The definition of high-speed rail varies across the world, with the US Federal Railroad Administration defining it as a train that exceeds speeds of 110 mph, while other countries set the standard much higher. Take a look at some of the world's most popular high-speed trains.
The world's first high-speed rail premiered when Japan's Shinkansen opened to the public in 1964. The Shinkansen has grown to become the world's busiest high-speed rail line, carrying 151 million passengers between 2007 and 2008.
France's high-speed rail, the TGV, debuted in 1981 with service between Paris and Lyon. Since then, the French national rail operator, SNCF, have expanded their electric train's network across France and to neighboring countries. The TGV currently holds the record for the fastest train on conventional rails, which it accomplished in 2007, reaching 356 mph.
China's Shanghai Maglev
China is home to the world's largest high-speed rail network, recently topping 2,050 miles. The Shanghai Maglev is China's fastest train measured by peak operational speed, reaching 268 mph in its short 18.7 mile trip. Maglev trains use magnetic levitation for the lift and propulsion of mass transit, as opposed to the wheels on traditional railroads.
Opening in 1994, the Eurostar's main service connects passengers between London, Paris and Brussels. The train travels underneath the English Channel, through the longest undersea tunnel in the world.
Germany's Intercity-Express is a high-speed rail system that connects most of Germany, as well as neighboring countries. Manufactured by Siemens, the ICE 3 has been in operation since 2000. Lighter and more powerful than its predecessors, the ICE 3 is licensed for speeds of 205 mph, though runs slower in Germany where the high-speed lines are only capable of handling up to 187 mph travel.
Spain's high-speed rail has four main lines connecting Madrid to Seville, Barcelona and Valladolid, and Cordoba to Málaga. An intense expansion of the railway is planned over the span of the next decade with the goal of joining the majority of Spain to the high-speed train network, which would make it the largest European high-speed rail.
Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR)
The THSR, opening in 2007, is based on Japan's Shinkansen. The system was a massive construction effort, with over 2,000 engineers from more than 20 countries aiding 20,000 workers in completing the enterprise.
South Korea's KTX
Open for almost six years, South Korea's high-speed rail is derived from the French TGV. The Korea Train Express is operated by Korail, whose latest train, the KTX-II, is the world's fourth high-speed train to reach speeds beyond the 350 kmh mark (about 217 mph).