Trains & Technology

What is High-Speed Rail?

A train service that regularly operates at or above 155 mph on new tracks or 125 mph on existing tracks.

Common Characteristics:

  • Most High-Speed Rail trains are electrically driven, powered by overhead lines.
  • Continuously welded rail tracks allow trains to pass each other at speeds in excess of 125 mph.
  • High-Speed Rail trains can reach top speeds of up to 300 mph.
  • Trains can carry up to 1,600 passengers per train set.

High-Speed Rail is the preferred transportation mode in the Far East, Near East, Europe and now the Middle East. Plans are in place for lines that would connect Europe, China and the Middle East. Nations are taking the development of high-speed rail seriously, as it’s considered a crucial element in making their countries competitive in the global economy.

Current Projects of Note:

  • Qatar and Kuwait investing $10 billion each
  • United Arab Emirates investing $40 billion
  • China investing $180 billion over next 24 months

Where is high-speed rail planned or under construction? United States

  • Los Angeles-Sacramento


  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland


  • China
  • India
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkey

Africa / South America

  • Morocco
  • Argentina
  • Brazil


The Federal Highway Administration’s May 2000 Addendum to the 1997 Federal Highway Cost Allocation Study indicates that heavy intercity trucks only pay 80 percent of the costs imposed on Federal highways. Many local roads are funded by real estate and sales taxes rather than by the highway users. A more recent study indicates that user fees from transportation taxes and tolls cover only about 60 percent of highway costs, when all roads – federal, state and local – are taken into consideration.