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World's Fastest Trains

World's Fastest Trains

Pedro Antonio Salaverría Calahorra / Alamy

After a long-haul flight to Shanghai, it’s a relief to bypass snarled traffic by catching the Shanghai Maglev Train, whose top speed of 268 mph makes it faster than any race car.

High-speed rail has improved the travel experience in a growing number of countries—and one entrepreneur wants to take a hyper leap forward. Silicon Valley inventor and businessman Elon Musk made headlines in August 2013 when he announced his interest in developing a 700 mph Hyperloop train that could zoom between L.A. and San Francisco in 35 minutes.

Just about anyone else would have been written off as crazy. But given the bold initiatives that Musk has undertaken in the past (PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX), at least a few pundits are predicting that his solar-powered train is possible.

In the meantime, national railroad companies and at least one private operator have sped ahead with the development of faster conventional electric trains. China, Spain, Italy, and Germany are rapidly increasing their high-speed rail networks. Turkey is linking Ankara, Konya, and Istanbul, while Saudi Arabia will unveil the Haramain High Speed Rail line between Mecca and Medina in 2014.

In America, however, the Acela Express is the only high-speed service in operation. Projects in the works include California High-Speed Rail, XpressWest between L.A. and Las Vegas, and a high-speed line between Chicago and St. Louis. But they won’t be boarding passengers any time soon.

If you’re traveling abroad, no need to wait: find out where to catch a ride on one of the world’s coolest high-speed trains.

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