High Speed Rail Around the World

High-speed rail systems are now well established in Asia and Europe while the USA is planning to build its first high-speed railway in the near future as a means to boost its economy. In Europe, the European Union has linked up its high-speed railway with the conventional railway systems of the European countries to become the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

In Asia, Mainland China is rapidly developing the National High-speed Railway Network, which will comprise eight east-west lines and eight north-south lines, covering most major Mainland cities, and target to increase the total network length to 30,000 km by 2020.

The world's first high-speed system operating at over 200km/h was Japan's Tokaido Shinkansen. Tokaido Shinkansen, which links up Tokyo and Osaka, officially opened to the public in October 1964, then operating at a speed of 210 km/h, and was built for the 1964 Olympic Games held in Tokyo.

The network of Shinkansen has expanded to connect cities across Japan and is well-known for its "bullet trains".

Nowadays, Shinkansen operates at a maximum speed of 300 km/h. The journey time between Tokyo and Osaka which was 4 hours in 1964, when Tokaido Shinkansen provided its inaugural service, has now been reduced to 2.5 hours.

Website of Shinkansen


The European Union linked up the high-speed railway and conventional railway systems of the European countries to develop the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), thereby enhancing the inter-countries transportation system.

The TEN-T high-speed railway network is expanding rapidly and many countries are planning to upgrade the existing conventional lines to high-speed railways. The total length of the TEN-T high-speed railway network, which is expected to be fully operational by 2020, will be 20,000 km. The speed of the high-speed rail line between the Netherlands and Belgium, for example, is over 300km/h.

Website of TEN-T

United Kingdom

The Eurostar commenced service in 1994, connecting Great Britain with the European mainland. The Channel Tunnel is a crucial part of the Eurostar route. Eurostar completes the journey from London to Paris in about two hours with the highest operating speed of 320km/h.

Website of Eurostar


France's high-speed rail service TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse), inaugurated in 1981, operates at the highest speed of 320km/h and is one of the fastest high-speed railway systems in the world. The journey time of TGV between Paris and Lyon, a distance of 409 km, is about two hours.

The TGV network, with its length exceeding 1,900km, has Paris as its hub and has expanded to connect cities within France and in adjacent countries.

Website of TGV


ICE (InterCity Express), is Germany’s high-speed rail service inaugurated in 1991. Its extensive rail network has not only connected the major cities in Germany, but also linked up Germany with neighbouring countries including France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria  across its borders.

The maximum speeds of the third generation ICE trains exceed 300 km per hour. ICE trains complete the journey from Berlin to Frankfurt in about four hours. Besides the amazing speed, comfortable and spacious compartments are the major reason why the ICE high speed rail service is so popular among travellers.

Website of ICE

The South Korean KTX (Korea Train Express) high-speed railway became operational in 2004. The highest speed of the KTX, which derives its technology directly from France's TGV, is over 300km/h. KTX takes about 2 hours from Seoul to Busan.

Website of KTX

The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR), which began operations in January 2007, runs approximately 345km from Taipei to Kaohsiung. The THSR completes the journey from Taipei to Kaohsiung in about 96 minutes at a maximum operating speed of 300km/h.

Website of THSR

At present, the high-speed railway in Mainland China is one of the most advanced high-speed railway systems in the world, in which its national high-speed rail network has already surpassed 25,000 km in length. The high-speed train operates at speeds of 300 to 350 km/h at surface level while its operating speed in urban tunnels is approximately 200km/h.

The Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway is China's first high-speed rail, operating at a speed of 350km/h. Connecting Beijing and Tianjin, it provided its inaugural service on 1 August 2008 for the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing. The journey time between Beijing and Tianjin, a distance of 120 km, takes only 29 minutes.

The development in Mainland China in High-speed Rail has been quite remarkable. The National High-speed Railway Network comprises eight horizontal lines and eight vertical lines, which covers most major Mainland cities, and target to increase the total network length to 30,000 km and to cover more than 80% of major cities by 2020.

For more details on Express Rail Link's connection to the Mainland, please請按這裡.

For more details on related information of Mainland China's high speed railways, please請按這裡.

The rolling stock for Mainland China's high-speed railway system is designated CRH (China Railway High-speed). There are several different versions of train design imported by the Ministry of Railways. The trains are manufactured locally through technology transfer.

CRH trainsets

CRH trainsets

National High-speed Rail Network

*Source of information: Transport and Housing Bureau

Other New Railway Projects in Hong Kong