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Courbevoie High Speed Trains Main Page
Welcome to the main page of the ever growing super high speed and high speed trains section. Creation of high speed rail systems and trains for them has been a huge success story of high tech development!

Categories: Train Families * Super High Speed * High Speed * Tilting High Speed * High Speed Lines * (these will all be linked in the future)

Under this section of you can find several dozen of the most successful trains types, train families sorted by manufacturfers and look at the infrastructure and the advanced technology needed. You may also be interest in the News Section on the High Speed Trains. There is a theme page devoted to Super High Speed Trains as well as a number of other pages around different high speed themes. The super high speed class here means that the train is capable of production running speeds of 280 km/h (174 mph) and over. We will also soon create another page for many interesting "normal" high speed trains of speeds 220 km/h - 280 km/h (137 mph - 174 mph). There will be as well be a new page dedicated to the super high speed future as well as the "semi" high speed page (200-220 km/h / 124-137 mph).

FS Bombardier built Fressiarossa 1000 at Innotrans 2014, Berlin, Germany

SNCF TGV-Hybrid unit 614 at Paris Gare de Lyon, France

Velaro-D DB class 407 unit taking shape at Siemens high tech facilities in Germany

Amtrak Acela number 2010 at Princeton junction, New Jersey, U.S.A.

SNCF TGV-Réseau unit 511 at Paris Charles de Gaulle, France

Hikari Rail Star

Stadler Rail EC250 "BeNe" high speed train for SBB of Switzerland

Created for by John McKey. Pictures by Ilkka and Sanna Siissalo, Gerry Putz, Nick Slocombe, Pekka Siiskonen and John McKey.

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A drawing of the Velaro-D DB class 407 in use arriving at station

High Speed Train Families
Train families like AGV, ICE, Pendolino, TGV, Velaro, Shinkansen, Zefiro, etc. form a formidable fleet of super high speed and high speed fleet of several thousand train units. Before taking a look at each of them please read a short description on each of these.    

   Most Common High Speed Train Families... 

High Speed Service Providers
Take a quick look at the companies running super high speed and high speed traffic. Outside traditional national companies there are already a handful of companies which practicing competition, although the new companies most often are also owned by these same giants. To add confusion, some services are named after trains...

  Look at the High Speed Services... 

SBB Pendolino ETR610 in "Swisalpino" colors, Basel, Switzerland

SBB Pendolino ETR610 in "Swisalpino" colors, Basel, Switzerland

Interesting Subcategories of High Speed Trains

Tilting High Speed Trains
Tilting high speed train fill in a niche market on the high speed train on the conventional track, where high speed would otherwise not be possible, typically due to lots of curves on the way. Yet often on these lines the market needs time to develop volumes before costly true high speed line building can be justified. To bridge the gap many tilting trains have filled the gap and become quite popular in Europe.

   Tilting High Speed Train Types...

Super High Speed Trains
Another interesting category of the high speed trains are the super high speed class, overs 280 km/h / 174 mph running trains. Only limited number of these exist, many of these in China, Germany or France.

   Super High Speed Train Types...

ICN / Rabde500 at Wassen on Gotthard Route

High Speed Lines
Most high speed trains need special high speed lines to operate effectively. Initially these were just smaller stretches on the heavily trafficked lines, but in the recent decades these have started forming huge international networks for high speed and super high speed train operation.

  High Speed Lines and Networks...

ETR500 headed by class 404 loco, Rome, Italy

High speed service providers TOP 15
There is also a quite large number of high speed service providers among train operators. We will reference the top 15 of these in the upcoming theme page.

  TOP 15 High Speed Service Operators...


Uncommon Solutions for High Speed
Some ingenious disruptive innovations have also been adapted to high speed train creation. One of the creative solutions for the high speed segment are ÖBB's fleet of Railjet virtual EMUs. These semi permanently coupled units consist of specially adapted Taurus locomotive with trailers and the driving trailer following it. The unit can be driven 230 km/h (143 mph) both ways. Dozens are in use for Austria and the neighboring countries.

  ÖBB and CD Railjet Virtual EMUs...

Southeastern "Javelin" class 395 unit 018 at St Pacras in London
Even More High Speed Trains...

Class 395 "Javelin" is one of the high speed trains running from St Pancras on the British high speed one (towards Channel Tunnel). The trains wisely the capacity between the Eurostar high speed trains and some freight towards continental Europe. Many other models worlwide also exist between the super high speed class and not so fast trains for smaller distances.

Long List of "Normal" High Speed Trains...

Maglev mockup at Munich airport, Germany
High Speed off Rails...
A small but occasionally growing class of super high speed trains is formed by the Maglev vehicles of Germany, Japan and China. Of these China has taken most convincingf steps towards very high speed traffic with Maglev in Singapore. Other routes are in works.

Maglev Systems Page...
SJ X55 unit 3755/6 in Umeå, Sweden

Semi High Speed Trains

By definition, high speed on this site, means at least 220 km/h speeds for everyday travel. There are numerous trains that are almost there, but not quite. This section will be devoted to those.Typically these trains can run somewhere between 200 and 220 km/h.

  Semi Highspeed Trains...

TGV-LaPoste, France

High Speed Freight
High speed freight has remained just around the corner for a number of decades. Obviously this is missing just the operator that would be bold enough to take the challenge. Numerous high speed lines between the major European cities exist today and more capacity is being built. However, it might be still cheaper to use airplanes and trucks instead of trains today because of quite high access charges. Pick for example Eurostar that reports line access fees account for about 40% of its total operating costs!

  More on Highspeed Freight...

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  Most Common Super High Speed Train Families
A drawing of the Velaro-D DB class 407 in use arriving at station

Velaros and ICEs
Velaro family of Siemens AG Mobility is one of the best sellers for today's super high speed trains. Half of the population of the Central European nations can travel in these trains today. New Velaro EMUs have now been taken into use around the world too, even in China and Russia. Earlier version of this design was called ICE3, espeacially in Germany, but this model was totally reworked and the current production model is known in Germany as class 407 and as Eurostar e320 / British class 374.

In the picture is the class 407 of the Deutsche Bahn. Intended initially for internationla traffic it now looks like the Germany traffic is growing so that capacity will be needed there. Later use in internationla traffic is possible though.

The ICE / Velaro is found in every form from super high speed units to tilting and even diesel units! they are used from hot climates of Spain to extreme coldness in Russian Siberia.

  More on Velaro and ICE Super High Speed Trains Page...

TGV, Train à Grande Vitesse
Early adapters always have advantage. French TGV trains were one of these in Europe. In fact, the French TGV was for long synonymous for the super high speed travels on the rail. TGV also was the first train to use almost 300 km/h (186 Mph) speed in normal everyday traffic in a large scale. Even today large fleet of over 500 TGV trains keeps the France moving. Newest trains have significantly evolved from the beginnings in the early 1980s, extending the TGV life span considerably. TGV units have also been built for export markets.

  More on TGV Super High Speed Trains Page...

FS Bombardier built Fressiarossa 1000 at Innotrans 2014, Berlin, Germany

Zefiro - Bombardier Super High Speed
Bombardier has also been developing solutions to super high speed markets for years. While engineering side is "easier", marketing can be quite demanding for any company, including this huge international train builder. However, Bombardier has progressed step by step and has many trustworty trains is this category including the Italian Zefiro on the left, Zefiro for China and Regina X55 for Sweden. The latter runs within "normal" high speed category.

  More on Bombardier Zefiro...

SBB Pendolino ETR610 in "Swisalpino" colors, Basel, Switzerland Pendolino
Pendolino tilting high speed trains are widespread in Europe because the type was one of the first high speed train families marketed for normal rail. The tilting meant that in the early stages of adopting the high speed mode there was no need for building a separate high speed track. This easy start approach has been immensely popular in Europe. You can also now find Pendolinos in China.

  More on Pendolino High Speed Trains Page...
Stadler Rail EC250 "BeNe" high speed train for SBB of Switzerland

Stadler Rail EC250
Late starter, but a formidable train builder Stadler Rail is in a process of designing and building a batch of 29 "BeNe" EC 250 high speed EMUs for Swiss operator SBB. These trains come in two variants: 19 will have double 1st and 2nd class with restaurant coaches. 10 other units are going to be 2nd class only and no restaurant if provided in these. An option of 92 further trains exists of unspecified configuration of the EC 250. EC250 will also be the first truly low floored high speed train, quite an achievement oce it is completed! Access to these will be exceptionally easy, you just walk in and walk out of the train. No steps need to be taken!

First route for EC250 running will be Gotthard Route. Trains will run at their maximum speeds of 249 km/h / 155 mph through the new Gotthard base tunnel between Switzerland and Italy. Accumulating EC250 units will start pushing slower (200 km/h / 125 mph) ICN sets to other routes from there in 2017.

ICx of Deutsche Bahn, Germany

IC4 (was ICx) of Siemens Mobility
The early high speed train designs like ICE1 or the TGV-PSE were state of the art 30 years ago. But since the fast development in the area has led to significant improvements and now there is also a road map for the TGV-PSE, ICE1 and ICE2 for retirement.

As usual the well working super high speed / high end system has also meant the need for increased capacity and a creation of a new sub high speed class. Super high speed class can not create added value where higher speed usage is limited. This might be because of track speeds, stations located near each other, congested raill lines or similar other reason. Often the slightly slower trains with much lower price tags are almost as good solution. Because of this you see many operators taking this approach in addition to true super high speed trains. The first IC4 trains will be built by Siemens for this capacity need and the later units for the replacement of the ICE1 and ICE2 units. While not quite as fast as the ICE1/2, the operator DB has found out that most of the time the very top speed is not used even today. And for the higher speeds the Deutsche Bahn can still offer their super high speed Velaros / ICE3's.

SJ X55 unit 3755/6 in Umeå, Sweden

X55 Regina Family of Bombardier
Regina is the most common EMU type in Sweden, but only there. However, near cousins can also be found in neighboring Nordic countries and it is likely the product lines will converge in the future.

Regina train sets have been used to refine Bombardier super high speed components for Zefiros in real environment running. Out of Regina product range tilting X54 EMU also can achieve speed of up to 200 km/h (125 mph) and X55 seen left can run up to 250 km/h (155 mph) once the track speeds in Sweden will allow this.

Southeastern "Javelin" class 395 unit 018 at St Pacras in London

Hitachi High Speed Trains
Hitachi is best known for its Japanese high speed trains. Yet it has established a strong presense in United Kingdom too with class 395 "Javelin" EMUs, built with much of the traditions of both Japan and U.K. For the future there will be many more high speed trains from Hitachi in Europe too. Next to be used will be British class 800 EMUs. Outwardly design of these look very much class 395.

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  Tilting High Speed and Semi High Speed Trains

Västtrafik X52-2 number 9040 at Jönköping, Sweden

SJ X55 unit 3347/8 in Gävle, Sweden

SBB Rabde on Gotthard route,  Switzerland

What once was rare, has now become very common feature of the semi high speed and high speed trains: tilting to increase comfortable speed on the traditional railroad lines. Runnin faster on the lines with curves is often not dangerous, but before the tilting train sets were introduced travelling on this kind of services was uncomfortable to passengers.

Tilting trains are often introduced on lines, where the money can not be raised in the short term for any larger building project and there obviously is demand for a faster than normal travelling. Example of this approach can be found on tracks Northwest of London, UK. The positive results often, as in this case too, are that the numbers of people travelling will steadily raise. With the increasing numbers a true high speed line with super high speed EMUs can be judged sooner or later.

Of course the raising number of passengers is not always the case like on some lines in Sweden, Finland and Norway. There the tilting trains are to be for a foreseeable future to speed the traffic.

The approach above will go around the bottleneck found in California: trying to build a super high speed system all at once has been a formidable 5 year obstacle (so far) with scarce money and nonexistent customer pool. If they just would take one step at the time, slowly building the customer base that takes decades to form anyway, no matter what type of line is in use... you have to consider that the Germans took a whole 200 years to perfect their system! One step at the time. Today, Germany is one of the leading industrial nations with Velaro super high speed trains crossing the country on high speed networks.

   On left above a Swedish Västtrafik Bombardier manufactured Regina family class X52-2 is providing for the regional service of Jönköping, Sweden. This unit tilts to run curvous track faster than a normal train would. Highest speeds allowed to Reginas are within 180-200 km/h (111 - 125 mph) range, but they are capable of even higher speeds. Picture by Ilkka Siissalo.

   Fast and popular, Regina X55 EMUs of SJ are found on many "North of Stockholm" routes. Here the track conditions are mostly excellent with a new higher speed line so train's acceleration capabilities can be untilized. In the picture the Gävle platform is all crowded withpassengers unboarding and boarding the train set #3x48.

  On left the SBB ICN unit is taking a serious tilt to make the travelling more comfortable for those aboard it. ICNs provide much of the semi high speed traffic inside Switzerland and in near future throught the Gotthard new base tunnel to Italy as well. Picture by Nick Slocombe.

DB ICE-T is tilting on the curve

Deutsche Bahn ICE-T
The Deutsche Bahn (German railways) owns a sizable fleet of tilting ICE3 looking trains. 71 ICE-T EMUs handle a great portion of the higher speed traffic on the nondedicated high speed lines. Germany is relatively populated and the rail lines follow the shapes of the landscape, so market for this kind of trains exist even with all the super high speed line building.

DB ICE-T in Numbers
-> Numbers: 1996 ->, 71 class 411 trains (7 modules) and 11 class 415 trains (5 modules), built by Siemens+Bombardier+Alstom together
-> Top speed: 230 km/h (140 mph), 400/3000 kW (5365/4025 hp), 200/150 kN (44'960/33720 lbf)
-> Seated Passengers:
-- Class 411, batch 1: 1st class 53, 2nd class 304, restaurant 24
-- Class 411, batch 2: 1st class 55, 2nd class 314, restaurant 20
-- Class 415: 1st class 41, 2nd class 209, restaurant -
-> Operators: Deutsche Bahn (Germany, Switzerland) and ÖBB (Austria)

Flytoget Bm71, Oslo, Norway

NSB Bm73b at Göteborg, Sweden

NSB Bm73 / Bm73b

Norwegian NSB earlier acquired trains tailored for its needs. Latest of this generation are cool looking Bm71/Bm73/Bm73b EMUs which are used extensively on routes spanning from Oslo just about any direction.

  Class Bm71 shuttles higher speed between center of Stockholm and Gardemoen airport 50 kilometers north of it. Train sets were extended from 3 modules to 4 by Bombardier a few years ago and now more units of some other kind of train will be needed for Flytoget with terminal 2 being readied for use. It is doubtful if trains can accelerate enough on this short route to run high speed. On the left picture of Bm71 in its current configuration by Gerry Putz.

   Class Bm73 is a long distance variant of the trains, painted silver and blue. "Regional" silver-red Bm73b units run mostly Southeast of Oslo to international destinations in Sweden. Gothenburg is the most important of these.


SBB Pendolino ETR610 in "Swisalpino" colors, Basel, Switzerland

Pendolino 400 and 600 Series EMUs
Pendolino tilting high speed trains are widespread in Europe because the type was one of the first tilting high speed train families marketed for normal rail. Tilting meant that in the early stages of adopting the high speed mode there was no need for building a separate high speed track. This easy start approach has been immensely popular in Europe. You can also now find Pendolinos in China. Two main generations in traffic exist today: the 400 series at use in China, Czech Republic (CD), Finland (Karelian Trains and VR-Yhtymä), Italy where the trains are manufactured (FS), Spain (Renfe) and United Kingdom (Virgin Trains). Virgin Trains fleet is by far the largest. 600 series pictured on the left is the newest offering, with speed up to 250 km/h (155 mph). 600 series trains can be found in Italy (FS), Poland (PKP), Spain (Renfe) and Switzerland (SBB). Surprisingly Spanish and Polish Pendolinos can't tilt!

  More on Pendolino High Speed Trains Page...

SJ X2000 in the center of Stockholm, Sweden

X2000 / SJ2000 ASEA Built EMUs
ASEA (Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget) was a major train building company until 1988 when it merged with BBC Brown Boveri. After this railroad rolling stock building in Sweden ceased in just 10 years. Some smaller train component manufacturing still remains in Västerås, now under name of Bombardier.

ASEA pride were the X2000 tilting "highspeed" trainsets. These were delivered in 1980s and 1990s and today are a common sight all around Southern part of Sweden, where traffic volumes are highest. Owner and operator SJ is now in a process of refurbishing X2000 units with new technology and better passenger comfort so before 2020 the whole fleet should be renewed. Because many Swedish rail routes have numerous curves, active tilting mechanism has enabled these trains to run at higher speeds than competition. X2000 is also known by its locomotive calffification X2 and SJ2000 which is an SJ marketing name for the train type.

Interestingly, X2000 was also almost sold to neighboring Finland (not so well working Pendolinos were bought instead) and U.S.A. for Amtrak (not initially so well working Acelas were bought). Who knows, maybe with these two orders, Swedish legendary rolling stock building industry might still survive.

DSB ICE-TD number 03 in Copenhagen, Denmark

Bombardier and Siemens ICE-TD DMUs
Not all trials lead to success. One story of these is the tilting diesel version of the German ICE train. 20 of these were originally built for nonelectrified section of intercity traffic. Order was placed in 1996, but it was until 2003 before these were taken into use, due to "technical problems" with using two separate builders for each train unit. As problems were not temporary, units were soon stored.

Second chance came with Hamburg, Germany - Copenhagen, Denmark traffic where many ICE-TDs have been in use since 2007. One of the trains is even painted to Danish DSB colors, others just wear DSB logos at ends. For the future use will lessen as units would need midlife refurbishment.

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  High Speed Service Providers
SNCF TGV-2N2 unit 813 at Nice Ville, France

SNCF of France
By far the largest and most powerful high speed operator in Europe is the French Railways SNCF. It operates super high speed trains itself through TGV brand, but also owns most of operators Thalys and Eurostar. For Swiss traffic SNCF and SBB of Switzerland have also set up a marketing cooperation TGV-Lyria. SNCF also owns a low cost operator Ouigo (English "We Go" in French spelling). Market research is quite aggressive with new products and campaigns appearing often and being studied carefully by SNCF. Currently SNCF and its subsidiaries operate around 600 TGV trains, fleet that keeps getting more modern and more economical to operate every month. Route network covers several thousand kilometers in France (TGVs also run classic routes when high speed lines are not available) and in all neigboring countries.

Where many competitors have bought into latest technology of super high speed trains only to regret it, SNCF has been wise to invest in the latest and ever evolving line of TGVs, clocking so far billions of route kilometers and one billion passengers carried, in complete safety.

DB ICE3 class 406 stopping in Liege, Belgium

Deutsche Bahn of Germany
Deutsche Bahn branded its high speed services as ICE, Inter City Express, in the 1990s. This has remained so to these days and numerous trains like the one on the left have these famous three letters painted on them. The ICE concept has been a real success story, both at home in Germany and in the neighboring countries, some of which are daily served by the DB. ICE name and look is also used by the DB cooperation companies like NS in Netherlands and Belgian railways, which own some of the ICE3M class 406 trains. DB's high speed operations rely much on the ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 and Velaro trains, the newest addition being the class 407 Velaro of Siemens and ICE4 trains. These both add capacity to high speed and 407 also international capacity.

Eurostar Capitals units 3214 and 3215 at St Pacras in London

Eurostar International Ltd.
Eurostar runs trains with its name between London, U.K. and destinations on the Continental Europe, Paris, Lille, Brussels and ski holiday towns on the Alps. The company currently uses special U.K. and Channel Tunnel regulations adapted TGVs, valled TMST-Eurostar Capitals. It has also just taken into use e320 Velaro-UK units (British class 374) which are much more modern and comfortable than the previous generation of vehicles. These also can run 20 km/h faster than the first generation of trains and reach many new destinations with their 4 current systems. Most likely plans target for Amsterdam and German larger cities in the West.

The Eurostar terminal in London is a St Pancras magnificent building in the Northern side of London. In Paris the surroundings are offered by equally impressive and historic Paris Gare du Nord, the Northern Station.

NTV .italo ETR-575 number 07, Italy

Italy's first private high speed train operator was formed in 2006. Since it has made a massive work braking the Trenitalia monopoly for rail transit inside the country. Trenitalia made all in its might to resist this change. Of course this is against the EU rules, so Trenitalia gave in ultimately and NTV got started. In process, SNCF of France bought into NTV for 15% of shares.

Most of the NTV fleet is run by Alstom AGV super high speed trainsets. For maximum speed of 360 km/h 25 11 section AGV:s run the core of Italian high speed lines. These will in 2018 be accompanied by 8 truly futuristic looking Pendolinos for 250 km/h, each train 7 modules long. Pendolinos needed some additional work done, since the 600 series does not seem to conform well with the current 2014 European crash norms.

Thalys PKA number 4535 and PBKA number 4344 at Paris Gare du Nord, France



FS Bombardier built Fressiarossa 1000 at Innotrans 2014, Berlin, Germany

Trenitalia Frecciarossa


Renfe AVE-102 / Talgo 350, Spain


Renfe AVE and AVANT

Karelian Trains Allegro Pendolino number 02, Helsinki Main, Finland
Karelian trains of RzD and VR-Yhtymä
Velaro-RUS at St Petersburg Moscowskaya station, Russia

RzD of Russia
High Speed railways are often among other factors a prestige project for any developed country, even more so in the country that is trying hard to develop and evolve to more modern society like Russia today.

The state operator RzD has several types of high speed trains in its use. We will create an article on these plus add some background to enlighten the campaign that has been going on for decades ever since the Soviet period. Most visible high speed train types are the Velaro-Rus "Sapsans" (class Ers1) and "Allegro" Pendolinos, co-owned with the VR of Finland. Russia also has numerous semihigspeed trains.

Railjet in Austria

Railjet of Austria
In the late 1990s ÖBB, the Austrian Railways, saw huge markets opening to its immediate neighborhood. It decided to invest into new rolling stock and create as effective fleet as possible. This meant in many cases using as few types of rolling stock as possible.

ÖBB ordered large quantities of true multiuse Taurus (ES64U2) locomotives and for the use in passenger rail matching coach sets with driving trailers. Coupled semi permanently with the Taurus locomotive they together form virtual EMUs with top speed of 230 km/h! What an ingenious invention of Siemens and ÖBB!

Although the market did not become reality and the sets have had slow start, the passenger numbers are slowly growing and Railjets are used today in high speed traffic to neighboring countries, not just within their home turf Austria.

Southeastern "Javelin" class 395 unit 018 at St Pacras in London

Southeastern of U.K.
The Southeastern runs class 395 EMUs east of London along the HS1 (British High Speed 1) line and the nearby towns.

Here the unit is seen during the trial traffic at St Pancras station in London, U.K. Picture by John McKey.

Virgin Trains
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  You might also be interested in these subjects
SNCF TGV-Reséau unit 4523 closeup at Nissan, France
Super high speed TGV trains page has all the relevant information on these highly popular trains!
RzD Velaro-Rus' high tech nose under construction, Germany
See Velaro & ICE 1,2,3 Page for these Siemens Mobility vehicles!


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© Railroad Reference 2004 - 2016   -   Recreated 10.9.2011, Updated 7.1.2016 John McKey