The Shanghai Maglev - fastest train in the world?

The Shanghai Maglev Train is the fastest train in the world in commercial operation. It runs between Shanghai's Lujiazui Financial district and Shanghai's Pudong airport.

The 30 km ride takes less than eight minutes and reaches speeds up to 433 km/h.

Shanghai Maglev Shanghai Maglev Shanghai Maglev

What does "Maglev" mean?

Maglev is short for "Magnetically Levitated". Basically, the train is propelled upwards by powerful magnets that provide the propulsion and lift. There are tracks to "guide" the train, but there are no wheels touching the track surface as the train lifts up and "floats" on this magnetic field.

The main advantage is that the train can achieve very high speeds because it is essentially "flying" at a low altitude, and unlike regular trains or cars, there is no surface contact to slow it down.

Riding the Maglev in Shanghai...

We rode the Maglev on our last day as we headed over to Pudong International Airport. We took a taxi from our hotel and arrived at the Maglev terminal in about 20 minutes.

When buying the tickets, make sure you show your airplane tickets, as this will give you a small discount. I think we paid about $5 or $6 for our one-way ticket. This is a huge amount for Chinese standards and when adding the cost of the taxi to get there, probably more expensive altogether if there are several in your group, but anyhow, it's for the experience!

Before proceeding to the "terminal", we passed through security where all bags are X-rayed, just like at the airport.

Trains run continuously, we did not have to wait long for ours. We boarded and soon after our train took off. In less than 8 minutes we were at Shanghai's Pudong Airport.

See Shanghai Map here.

It was a very smooth ride:

Watch more China videos...

Pre-book your Maglev Airport Transfers

If you would like to be met at the airport upon your arrival to Shanghai and arrange for your Maglev transfer into the city and then by private car to your hotel, or viceversa, from your hotel to Pudong International Airport, you can pre-book your one-way or round trip transfers before you leave home:

Beijing-Shanghai Rail Link

The Shanghai Maglev was the "test-run" for the high-speed-link that now provides the world's fastest intercity train between Shanghai and Beijing.

The line construction started on April 18, 2008 and was completed in mid-2011. This is the biggest infrastructure project taken on by the People's Republic ever.

Trains travel up to 350 km per hour, making the trip between Shanghai and Beijing in less than 5 hours, shaving six hours of the previous time!

As for the absolute fastest train in the world, I believe the honor belongs to Japan's Shinkansen Maglev, the MLX01 which has reached a speed of 374mph or 603 km/h in 2015 on a trial run.

Top 10 World's Fastest Trains in Operation

Source: China Daily, updated May 30, 2014

World's Fastest Trains
Rank Model Country Operating Speed Record Speed Launch Date
1 Shanghai Maglev China 268 mph 311 mph 2004
2 Harmony CRH380A China 236 mph 302 mph 2009
3 ICE 3 Germany 199 mph 229 mph 2000
3 Shinkansen Train E5 Japan 199 mph 223 mph 2011
3 TGV Train POS France 199 mph 357 mph 2008
6 AVE Series 103 Spain 193 mph 250 mph 2006
7 KTX Sancheon South Korea 190 mph 217 mph 2010
8 ETR 500 Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) and ETR 575 AGV Italy 186 mph 211 mph (Red Arrow), 224 mph (AGV) 2008 (Red Arrow), 2012 (AGV)
8 Eurostar Class 373 Britain, France, Belgium 186 mph 208 mph 1993
8 THSR 700T Taiwan 186 mph 196 mph 2007

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