Countries With the Most High Speed Rail

A high speed train with Shanghai in the background.
A high speed train with Shanghai in the background.

High-speed rail (HSR) is a form of railway transportation which runs at a higher speed. They use an integrated system of dedicated tracks and rolling stock to attain the high speed. The first high-speed train began its operation in 1964 in Japan, and they were called bullet trains. They run on standard gauge rail with continuously welded rails.

Top 5 Nations with the most High Speed Rail

1. China - 25,000 km

HSR (High-speed rail) is China’s network of passenger-dedicated railway. It was extended to 29 more provincial-level administrative divisions in 2017 which gives it a total length of 25,000 km. This accounts for approximately two-thirds of the global high-speed railway for commercial services. It is the longest HSR network in the world, and in 2017 it completed nearly 2 billion trips. China Railway Corporation owns a majority of the high-speed trains under their brand name CRH (China Railway High-speed).

2. Spain - 3,100 km

The high-speed rail in Spain which is managed by Renfe is known as AVE (‘’Alta Velocidad Espanola’’ which means ‘’high speed’’). The AVE rail network had attained a length of 3,100 km by August 2017, making it the longest in Europe and the second longest in the world. AVE trains use a high-speed rail network which is owned by Administrador de infraestructuras Ferroviarias (ADIF) where other mid-speed (Altaria) and high-speed trains operate. AVE runs on standard gauge rail which allows direct connection to other nations via a link to the French network in Perthus tunnel.

3. Germany - 3,038 km

The construction of the high-speed rail network in Germany began after that of LVG (‘’Lignes a grande vitesse’’ which means high-speed rail lines) in France. Numerous legal battles delayed the construction of the high-speed rail such that the ICE (intercity express) trains were launched a decade after the establishment of the French network. The first regularly scheduled train service began on June 2, 1991, from Hamburg to Altona. The ICE rail was integrated with other trains and pre-existing lines due to the German settlement structure. The railway reached as far as Switzerland and Belgium soon after they started operation. They introduced the third generation ICE trains with a maximum service speed of 205 mph and a top speed of 226 mph in 2000. The high-speed rail is about 3,038 km long.

4. Japan - 2,765 km

The ‘’Shinkansen’’ (which is known as the ‘’bullet train’’) is a Japanese High-speed rail network which is operated by about 5 J-R group companies (Japan railways group) including Tokaido Shinkansen. Tokaido Shinkansen's rail consists of a total of 2,765 km.

5. France - 2,647 km

The French intercity high-speed rail known as TGV (train a grande vitesse) is managed by the French national society of railways. Gec-Alsthom developed it in the 1970s, and a gas turbine powered their first trains. In 2011 they operated the fastest service train in the world. Currently, the TGV rail network is 2,647 km long, and it extends to other nations directly (Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, and Italy) via their derivative network which links France to Belgium.

High Speed Railways Crossing International Borders

Even though China has over two-thirds of the World’s High-speed rail, its network does not cross into the neighboring nations. The HSR crosses international boundaries only in Europe. Belgium is served by four operators TGV, ICE, Eurostar and Thalys trains all from neighboring countries. ICE trains reach Switzerland and Belgium while TGV rail has extended to Italy, Luxembourg, Germany, and Switzerland. Eurostar connects London to Brussels.

Countries With the Most High Speed Rail

RankCountryOperational High Speed Rail (Km)
7United Kingdom1,377
9South Korea1,048

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