Timeline of high-speed rail
This is a timeline of high-speed rail, focusing on speed evolution of the transport. Since the birth of the railway age in the 1830s, when 50kph was considered ‘fast’, rail speeds have increased dramatically. Therefore this timeline has for axis events related to services breaking speed record across time. For the early development of railways, plase visit timeline of rail transport.
|Time period||Development summary|
|19th century||Railways originate in Europe during the Industrial Revolution, with earliest events taking blace in the United Kingdom. Since the very beginning, the speed of passengers trains is an essential argument to compete, not necessarily with other transport modes but among the different companies. The speed on rails also constitute an evidence of technological development of the most advanced countries at that time.|
|1930s||Trains designed for commercial operation between cities average 133 km/h.|
|1950s||Japanese railway engineers begin their own extensive research and development on high speed rail, aiming to improve rail transportation for the densely populated and rapidly growing Tokyo–Osaka corridor. In France, tests conducted by the French National Railway show that speeds over 300 km/h could be achieved with powerful electric locomotives.|
|1964 <||The Japanese Shinkansen becomes the first high speed system in the world, marking a new era of modern transport. Japan is the first country in the world to build a dedicated line for new high speed trains.|
|1970s–1990s||High–speed rail sees a great adoption in Europe, with France leading with its TGV. Magnetic levitation (Maglev) technology is first tested in the 1970s.|
|2000s<||High–speed rail is adopted late in China, yet the country quickly raises as the worldwide top with the largest network. In Europe, Spain, which also saw a late introduction, has notwithstanding topped the continent with the current largest network worldwide second only to China.|
|Year||Event type||Details||Present day country/location|
|1803||Model||British inventor and mining engineer Richard Trevithick develops the first high-pressure steam engine as well as the first full scale working railway steam locomotive, the ‘Puffing Devil,’ which is widely recognised as the first demonstration of transportation powered by steam. It successfully carries six passengers to the next nearby village travelling at a speed of 8 km/h.||United Kingdom|
|1812||Model||English manufacturer Matthew Murray builds the first commercially viable steam locomotive.||United Kingdom|
|1829||Speed||English engineer George Stephenson develops his “Rocket” locomotive, which reaches 50 km/h, representing a true high speed consideration for railways at the time.||United Kingdom|
|1845||Line||The British Great Western Railway introduces the fastest rail service in the world with its London to Exeter expresses, which averages 70kph.||United Kingdom|
|1854||Speed||Railways reach 130 km/h.|
|1891||Engineer Károly Zipernowsky proposes a high-speed line Vienna–Budapest, bound for electric railcars at 250km/h.||Austria, Hungary|
|1899||Test||Early experiments in high-speed rail are conducted in Germany. Railway between Marienfelde and Zossen, in length of 72 km, is electrified by Prussian state railway and ten electrical and engineering firms. After four years of experimenting rails would manage to achieve a speed of 210.2 km/h though this train would not enter the regular service.||Germany|
|1903 (October)||Model||The Siemens & Halske-equipped railcar obtains speed of 206.7 km/h on 23th October, and on 27 October the AEG-equipped railcar achieves 210.2 km/h.||Germany|
|1933||Introduction||The first high speed trains appear in Europe and the United States when streamliner trains start being used to transport goods and people at speeds of around 130 km/h.||Europe, United States|
|1933||Model||Diesel-powered “Fliegender Hamburger” enters regular service between Berlin and Hamburg with a top speed of 160 km/h.||Germany|
|1934||Model||The Denver Zephyr averages 134 km/h and peaks at 185 km/h.||United States|
|1938||Model||The steam traction, LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard high speed runs on Britain’s East Coast Main Line at a speed of 203km/h.||United Kingdom|
|1938||Line||The Italian ETR200 electric train serves the Bologna-Rome-Naples route at 200 km/h.||Italy|
|1957||Model||Engineers at the private Odakyu Electric Railway in Greater Tokyo Area launch the Odakyu 3000 series SE electric multiple unit EMU. This unit sets a world record for narrow gauge trains at 145 km/h.||Japan|
|1964 (October 1)||Line||Japan opens the world's first high-speed rail line, between Tokyo and Osaka, in time for the 1964 Olympics. The Shinkansen (新幹線, new trunk line) is the first high speed system in the world. The new service operates at speeds up to 210 km/h and average over 110 km/h.||Japan|
|1964||Program||The United States start exploring the notion of high-speed rail transportation.||United States|
|1965 (June)||Introduction||In Europe, high-speed rail begins during the International Transport Fair in Munich, when German Federal Railways operate fast trains with 200 km/h between Munich and Augsburg.||Germany|
|1965||Model||French engineer Jean Bertin invents the Aérotrain, a hovercraft monorail train, and builds the first prototype.||France|
|1965||Policy||The United States Congress passes the high speed rail bill. The act would contribute to the establishment of the nation's fastest rail service, the Metroliner, from Washington, DC to New York city.||United States|
|1966||Program||La Société nationale des chemins de fer français sets up a research department dedicated to the creation of a high-speed “turbotrain” based on the model of the Shinkansen.||France|
|1968||Line||The first modern high-speed rail between Tokyo and Osaka, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, starts operating.||Japan|
|1976||Line||The first high speed rail service is introduced in Great Britain, with diesel-powered High Speed Trains or HSTs running at up to 200km/h.||United Kingdom|
|1978||Line||Italy is credited with Europe's first high-speed line, the Direttissima, opening between Rome and Florence. The service opens with a top speed of 250 km/h.||Italy|
|1981 (September 27)||Line||The National French Railway Company starts the operation of the first high speed line TGV (French: Train à Grande Vitesse, "high-speed train"), between Paris and Lyon, at 260km/h. Since then, France would become the European leader of the high speed rail movement.||France|
|1981||Speed||The TGV reaches the record speed of 380 km/hour.||France|
|1988||Test||West Germany’s Intercity Experimental train reaches 406.9 km/h, a record that would become the predecessor of all Intercity-Express trains on the Deutsche Bahn.||Germany|
|1988||Introduction||The Shatabdi Express, the fastest train in India, travelling at 140 km/h, is introduced.||India|
|1989||Model||The TGV "Atlantique" becomes the first train to operate regularly at 300 km/h.||France|
|c.1989||The United States Congress begins to show interest in Maglev technology as a possible solution for high-speed rail in the country, requesting the Federal Railroad Administration to assess its feasibility.||United States|
|1990||The Community of European Railways proposes an interconnected high–speed rail network.||Europe|
|1990||Speed||The French TGV breaks speed record for an electric train reaching 515 km/h.||France|
|1991 (June 2)||Line||High-speed rail in Germany is established with the introduction of the Intercity-Express train at 320 km/h.||Germany|
|1992||Line||The AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) iniciates with the Madrid–Seville service opened on dedicated track. In spite of its late introduction, the Spanish high speed railway system would become the second in the world only to China.||Spain|
|1993||Speed||The Japanese Jōetsu Shinkansen reaches 425.0 km/h.||Japan|
|1994||Line||Eurostar high–speed rail service starts operating, linking directly London to Continental Europe via the Channel Tunnel.||Europe|
|1997||Line||High-speed rail in Belgium is introduced with the opening of the HSL 1 to France, cutting the Eurostar London–Brussels journey time.||Belgium|
|2002||The Shanghai Pudong maglev airport link is successfully completed.||China|
|2003||Line||The first section the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (re-branded "High Speed 1" in 2006) opens. It is the first purpose-built high-speed rail line in the United Kingdom.||United Kingdom|
|2003||Maglev||Japan Railway’s magnetic levitation maglev line reaches 581km/h.||Japan|
|2004 (April)||Maglev||The Shanghai maglev train starts operations.||China|
|2004||Line||Korea Train Express (KTX) high–speed rail system is launched in South Korea.||South Korea|
|2007||Speed||France’s LGV Est travelling at speeds of 574.8 km/h wins the prize for the fastest high-speed train in the world.||France|
|2007 (january 5)||Line||Taiwan High Speed Rail begins operation with first line between Taipei and Kaohshiung, at speeds up to 300 km/h.||Taiwan|
|2008||Line||High-speed rail in China is introduced with the first line opened between Beijing and Tianjin.||China|
|2009||Line||High-speed rail in Turkey is introduced with the first line between Ankara and Eskişehir.||Turkey|
|2009 (December 13)||Line||High-speed rail is introduced in the Netherlands with first service by Thalys operating on the HSL-Zuid.||Netherlands|
|2009||Organization||High Speed Two Ltd is established; with aims was at developing proposals for a high speed railway link between London and the West Midlands.||United Kingdom|
|2009 (February 17)||Policy||The President of the United States Barack Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, enabling funds (US$ 8 billion ans US$ 1 billion yearly for at least five years) for the Federal Railroad Administration to assign to intercity and high–speed rail projects.||United States|
|2010||Statistics||High speed trains worldwide carry 250 billion passenger km per annum.|
|2013||The Tōhoku Shinkansen reaches 320 km/h.||Japan|
|2014||Maglev||Construction of the first intercity maglev line begins, netween Tokyo and Nagoya. It is anticipated to open in 2027.||Japan|
|2015 (April)||Speed record||Japan Railway’s magnetic levitation maglev line breaks world speed record with 600km/h test run.||Japan|
|2015||Statistics||High speed lines worldwide extend over almost 30,000 kilometres.|
|2016||Statistics||China has 22,000 kilometres of high-speed rail as of end December 2016, accounting for two-thirds of the world's total.||China|
|2017||Maglev||The Shanghai Maglev Maglev wins the prize as the fastest high-speed train in the world, with a top operational speed of 430km/h and average speed of 251 km/h.||China|
|2027||Maglev||The Linear Chūō Shinkansen is expected to travel at 505 km/h.||Japan|
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How the timeline was built
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