The United Kingdom (UK) is often considered a pioneering country in rail transport since it developed the world's first modern railway. A substantial number of developments to the railway industry have been made in the UK since that time, such as the expansion of the railway network. One of the most significant developments was the introduction of a high-speed rail system, in which trains travel at speeds greater than 124 mph. Opened in 2003, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) has the distinction of being the first high-speed rail line constructed in the UK.
The fastest train operating within the UK is the Eurostar e320, which began operations in 2015. In addition in the UK, the Eurostar e320 also operates in France and Belgium. The train's body was constructed by German manufacturer Siemens, while the interior was designed by Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina. Funding to construct the Eurostar e320 was provided by a group of eight banks, including the European Investment Bank (EIB). The Eurostar e320 was designed to carry more passengers than previous Eurostar trains. The fastest speed that the Eurostar e320 has reached is 219 mph, which is slightly higher than the maximum design speed of 200 mph.
The second-fastest train in the UK is the Eurostar, which traveled at approximately 209 mph in 2003. The maximum recorded speed of the Eurostar was significantly higher than its maximum design speed of 186 mph. The Eurostar connects London with other major European cities such as Brussels, Rotterdam, and Paris. In addition to London, the train also stops at two stations in Kent, Ashford International, and Ebbsfleet International. The Eurostar is popular among passengers because of the entertainment and Wi-Fi supplied by GoMedia. The company faced significant controversy when it attempted to make cyclists dismantle their bikes before riding the train, and management was eventually forced to rescind the policy after criticism from citizens and politicians, such as former British MP and former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
The Javelin is the third fastest train in the UK, reaching a maximum speed of 157 mph, which is 17 mph higher than its maximum design speed. Designed and built in Japan by Hitachi, the train was an essential piece of the infrastructure London needed for its successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. In fact, the train was initially named the Olympic Javelin Shuttle, but later shortened to Javelin. The Javelin began operating in December 2009 and served several cities such as London, Ebbsfleet, and Rainham.
The Importance of Trains in the UK
Trains have played a vital role in the economy of the Unite Kingdom since the introduction of the steam locomotive. Rail travel enabed farmers to transport perishable goods, such as dairy products, to more markets, therefore increasing incomes and subsequently raising the standard of living. Trains also made it cheaper to transport bulk goods over long distances. The railway industry created jobs for a large number of UK residents, providing an important source of income. Trains also made it easier for passengers to travel within the United Kingdom, as well as across Europe.
The Fastest Trains in the United Kingdom
|Rank||Name||Maximum Recorded Speed (mph/km/h)||Maximum Design Speed (mph/km/h)|
|1||Eurostar e320||219 (352)||199 (320)|
|2||Eurostar||209 (334.7)||186 (300)|
|3||Javelin||157 (252)||140 (225)|
|4||Super Express||none set||140 (225)|
|5||InterCity 225||162 (261)||140 (225)|
|6||Pendolino||162 (261)||140 (225)|
|7||InterCity 125||148 (238)||125 (200)|
|8||Adelante||125 (200)||125 (200)|
|9||Voyager||125 (200)||125 (200)|
|10||Super Voyager||125 (200)||125 (200)|
|11||Meridian/Pioneer||125 (200)||125 (200)|
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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