The world record holder depends on the train type and specifications. Among conventional trains it is the French TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse). Its top speed is 574.8 km/h (357.18 mph), set on April 2007. Among non conventional trains it is the Japanese JR-Maglev at 581 km/h (361 mph).
The World’s Fastest Trains: Electric Multiple Units
Next to the French TGV is the SNCF TGV Atlantique Set No. 325 with speeds of up to 515.3 km/h. This was recorded on 18 May 1990. At third place is the same train. On 5 December 1989 it reached a top speed of 482.4 km/h. All three were set in France.
At number four is the SNCF TGV Sud-Est Set No. 88. Its top speed is 408.4 km/h. This speed was recorded on 12 December 1988 (France). At number five is the InterCityExperimental (ICE-V) which has a top speed of 406.9 km/h. This was set on 1 May 1988 in West Germany.
The World’s Fastest Trains: Hovertrains
At number one is the Aérotrain -80 Haute Vitesse (HV). It has a maximum speed of 430.4 km/h, set on 5 March 1974. The Aérotrain 02 is in second place. Its top speed is 422 km/h established on 22 January 1969. The Aérotrain 02 also holds the record for the third fastest at 345 km/h set on November 1967.
The Aérotrain 01 is at number four with speeds of up to 303 km/h. This was set on 23 December 1966. The Aérotrain 01 is also at number five. It was recorded traveling at 200 km/h sometime around February 1966. This took place in Gometz-la-Ville, France.
The World’s Fastest Trains: Maglev
The JR-Maglev MLX01 is at number one with speeds of up to 581 km/h. This was set on 2 December 2003 during a test drive in Japan. The JR-Maglev MLX01 also holds the record for second fastest. On 14 April 1999 it was recorded moving at 552 km/h. Both records were set in Japan.
The JR-Maglev MLX01 is also the third fastest. On 24 December 1997 it reached speeds of up to 550 km/h. On 12 December 1997 the JR-Maglev MLX01 was recorded traveling at 531 km/h, good for fourth place. The JR-Maglev ML-500R is at fifth place. Its top speed is 517 km/h established on 21 December 1979 in Japan.
The World’s Fastest Trains: by Average Speeds
The TGV is at the top with an average speed of 306.4 km/h set on 26 May 2001. The ETR 200 is at second place with 165 km/h set on 20 July 1939 in Italy. The Pioneer Zephyr is the fourth fastest at 124 km/h (established on 26 May 1934). At fifth is the LNWR No. 790 Hardwicke, reaching speeds of up to 112 km/h. This was back in 22-23 August 1895.
An unmanned rocket sled was set on rails on 30 April 2003. It reached a top speed of 10430 km/h. This would make it the fastest vehicle (not just trains) set on rails.
The records for the world’s fastest trains can be very extensive. Other train types like electric locomotives, diesel, jet and steam trains have their own speed records.