What is a High Speed Railway?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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A high speed railway is a type of rail transport that operates at faster speeds than regular trains. Most high speed trains are passenger trains, but some of these trains also carry freight. There is no set speed that denotes a true high speed train, though most of these trains are faster than 90 miles per hour (144 kilometers per hour).

When trains were invented, these locomotives ruled the transportation world. Moving both people and objects from one part of the world to another became the sole domain of the railroad. In fact, trains were the preferable method of transportation throughout the globe until the automobile was invented.

The first high speed railway was the Italian ETR 200. This train was invented in 1939, and it could reach speeds of up to 102 miles per hour (165 kilometers per hour). The ETR ran from Milan to Florence, and it was quite popular until the beginning of World War II when all trains in Italy stopped running.

In 1957, Japan began to dominate the high speed railway category with the Romancecar 3000 SSE that ran on the Odakyu Electric Railway. This train was designed to fit inside of narrow spaces while running at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour). The Romancecar 3000 SE transported passengers from Tokyo to Osaka at amazing speeds.


Clearly, the first high speed trains were designed with passengers in mind. Today, throughout some parts of the world, high speed trains are still used as a main form of transportation. This is especially true in France where the high speed railway brings thousands of commuters from smaller towns to Paris every single day.

Train transportation is not as popular in North America as it once was, though some trains still connect towns to larger cities throughout North America. Trains have the ability to stop at various locations while completing a daily route. This is in large contrast to other forms of transportation that simply run from one point to another.

High speed railway trains are significantly safer than many other modes of transportation. Since trains are easy to control, train crashes are not common. In addition, trains do not run the risk of colliding with other vehicles, which cannot be said for most other types of transportation.


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