KIDSGAZETTE

Chug, chug, chug: History's fastest trains

** FILE ** Maglev, the world's only commercial magnetic-levitation train, run to next station seen in this April 16, 200
** FILE ** Maglev, the world's only commercial magnetic-levitation train, run to next station seen in this April 16, 2004 file photo at a station in Shanghai, China. Shanghai plans to extend the world's only commercially operating high speed magnetic levitation line as part of preparations for hosting the 2010 World Expo, chief expo planner Wu Zhiqiang was quoted as saying in official Shanghai Daily of Tuesday Nov. 30, 2004. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko/file)
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Nearly all forms of transportation started slow, but few have picked up speed as quickly as the train.

Sure, the first car could travel only 10 miles per hour and, 135 years later, most cars max out at about 120 mph — 12 times faster. The first plane flew at about 30 mph, and planes nowadays travel at 575 mph, an almost 20-fold increase.

But those modes of travel can’t compete with trains, which started out traversing less than 10 miles in an hour and now regularly reach speeds of more than 350 mph — more than 30 times faster than the steam trains of the early 1800s.

So if you have a need for speed, hop aboard. These are the world’s fastest trains since 1804:

1850s

Despite fears of what traveling at superfast speeds would do to the human body, trains in the 1850s traveled at 50 mph or more and, somewhat surprisingly at the time, did not cause breathing problems or uncontrollable shaking for their passengers.

1967

A TurboTrain reached 170 mph while traveling between Trenton and New Brunswick, New Jersey. According to the High Speed Rail Alliance, the ’67 event still is the world speed record for gas turbine-powered rail vehicles.

2004

The fastest commuter train in the world began operation in the early 2000s and runs along a magnetic levitation line — a system that uses magnets to pull and push the train, getting rid of friction that would slow everything down — in Shanghai, China. The train travels 267 mph, Railway Technology reported.

2007

The world speed record for a commercial train on steel wheels was set at 357 mph by the French TGV, according to the High Speed Rail Alliance. The TGV, which stands for “train a grande vitesse” or high speed train in English, speeds to and from French cities.

Comments: molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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