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Train Records: The Fastest, Longest & Heaviest

This page presents railroad records including fastest, longest, and heaviest trains in the U.S. and worldwide.

More railroad records:  Early Railroads,  Locomotives,  Bridges & Tunnels,  Routes & Track,  Train Wrecks

Note: This page was written by Christopher Muller and is copyright © 2013 RailServe.com. Content may not be reproduced in whole or in part on any website, message board, or other medium. Please contact us with any questions, suggestions, or corrections.

FASTEST TRAINS & SPEED RECORDS

What is the world's record train speed?

The fastest train speed ever recorded was 361 mph (581 km/h), set on December 2, 2003 by Central Japan Railway's MLX01 superconducting maglev at the Yamanashi Maglev Test Line.

What is the world's fastest train speed recorded on conventional wheels?

A TGV POS trainset achieved a record speed of 357mph (574.8 km/hr) on the LGV Est route on April 3, 2007. The train consisted of two modified power cars and three modified passenger cars. The train's combined horsepower was 26,300, more than double a standard TGV trainset. The test occurred on an 87 mile stretch between Prény and Champagne-Ardenne, a section with gentle curves and descending grades. Wheel diameter was increased 19%, catenary voltage raised 25%, catenary tension increased 60%, and superelevation (banking) increased.

What is the fastest train speed recorded in North America?

In 1966, the New York Central Railroad mounted surplus General Electric J47-19 jet engines (from a B36 bomber) on the roof of a modified Budd commuter car. The test train, named the M-497 Black Beetle, reached a U.S. record speed of 184 mph (296 km/h) on conventional track (with jointed rail) between between Butler, Indiana and Stryker, Ohio. The test provided the NYC with information about high speed stresses on conventional railroad track and railcars. Jet power was considered commercially unpractical and the car was returned to commuter service on Metro-North Railroad in New York.

What is the fastest speed recorded in North America by a production-built train?

The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) TurboTrain was an experimental gas turbine train operated first by the New Haven Railroad, then Penn Central and Amtrak. The TurboTrain was used in revenue service between New York's Grand Central and Boston's Back Bay from 1968 to 1972 at speeds up to 100mph (161 km/h), then ran elsewhere on Amtrak until 1974 and officially removed from service in 1976. Prior to entering revenue service, a three-car TurboTrain (two power cars and single intermediate car) set a speed record of 170.8mph (275 km/h) between New Brunswick and Trenton, New Jersey on December 20, 1967.

What is the fastest speed recorded in North America by a full trainset of a production-built train?

The North American speed record for a full production-built trainset was set by Amtrak's Acela Express. In late 1999, prior to entering revenue service in 2000, full trainsets were tested at a maximum speed of 168mph (270 km/h) near Kingston, Rhode Island. In late September 2012, in preparation for raising maximum speeds to 160mph (257 km/h), Amtrak conducted a series of tests on four sections of the Northeast Corridor: Perryville to Wilmington, Trenton to New Brunswick, Westerly to Cranston, and Attleboro to Readville. Again the test train was a full 6-car Aclea trainset (including two power cars) plus a geometry car. Officially these 2012 tests attained a maximum speed of 165mph, but unofficial reports indicate some test runs eclipsed the prior 168mph record.

What is the maximum speed of the world's fastest scheduled train?

Since 2008, China's fastest high speed rail routes have operated at a maximum speed of 217 mph (350 km/h). The Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway was to open in June 2011 with a maximum speed of 236 mph (380 km/h). However, following the ousting of China's Railway Minister in February 2011, train speeds nationwide were capped at 217 mph (350 km/h) for safety and cost reasons. Speeds were further limited to 186 mph (300 km/h) as of August 2011, following the deadly collision of two high speed trains at Wenzhou, China.

What is the maximum speed of the fastest scheduled train in North America?

The maximum speech attained on a regularly scheduled train in North America is 150 mph (241 km/h) on Amtrak's Acela Express. This speed is attained only on two sections in Rhode Island and Massachusetts where electrification was added in 2000. The maximum speed elsewhere on the Northeast Corridor is 135 mph (217 km/h) due to aging catenary infrastructure. The Acela Express attained a maximum speed of 168 mph (270 km/h) near Kingston, Rhode Island, during a 1999 test prior to revenue service, An effort is underway to upgrade catenary and raise the maximum speed to 160 mph (257 km/h) along 24 miles between Trenton and New Brunswick, New Jersey.

LONGEST & HEAVIEST TRAINS

What is the longest and heaviest train ever operated in the world?

The world's longest and heaviest train operated on June 21, 2001, between Newman and Port Headland in Western Australia. The train operated 170 miles (274 km) with 682 loaded iron ore cars. The train weighed 99,734  tons and measured 4.57 miles (7.35 km) in length. The train was run as a test of distributed power, with a combined eight GE AC6000 locomotives in five locations from front to rear of the train. BHP typically runs ore trains of about half this length, the longest regularly operated trains in the world.

What is the longest and heaviest train ever operated in North America?

The longest and heaviest train in North America occurred on November 15, 1967. The Norfolk & Western Railroad ran a 500 car coal train plus caboose, weighing 48,170 tons and stretching 4.06 miles (6.53 km), a distance of 159 miles (256 km) from Iaeger, West Virginia to Portsmouth, Ohio. The train was powered by six 3600 horsepower diesels, three in the front and three in the middle. The train served as a test of possible train lengths and weights, as well as the reliability of radio control to distributed locomotives. The test was generally successful except for intermittent losses of radio signal and a broken coupler that occurred when restarting after a crew change at Williamson, West Virginia.

LONGEST TRAIN ROUTES

What is the longest scheduled passenger train in the world?

The world's longest regularly scheduled trains are found on the Trans-Siberian Railway between Moscow and the Russian Far East. Through-service from Moscow to Pyongyang, North Korea, represents the maximum distance (6,322 miles or 10,175 kilometers) journeyed without changing trains.

What is the longest scheduled passenger train in North America?

The longest regularly scheduled train in North America is Via Rail Canada's Canadian between Montreal and Vancouver, a distance of 2,775 miles (4,466 kilometers). The longest train in the USA is Amtrak's Texas Eagle between Chicago and Los Angeles via San Antonio, a distance of 2,728 miles (4,390 kilometers).


 


 

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