Countries With Largest High Speed Rail Network [Top 20 List]

Countries With Largest High Speed Rail Network
Photo Credit: pxfuel

In this article, we’ll explore the top Countries With Largest High Speed Rail Network. If you prefer to bypass our in-depth analysis of the bullet train and high-speed rail market, feel free to skip ahead.

High-speed rail, often referred to as bullet trains, represents a faster mode of rail transport compared to traditional trains. These trains operate on standard gauge tracks and offer the advantage of covering extensive distances with greater efficiency in terms of both time and cost. According to the International Union of Railways (UIC), a commercial speed of 250 km/h is the key criterion used to classify rail services as high-speed.

The development and expansion of rail networks and railroads play a pivotal role in connecting cities and regions, facilitating easier travel and fostering collaboration. This connectivity, in turn, fuels overall economic growth, stimulates investment, generates employment opportunities, and drives innovation. As technology continues to advance and the demand for swift, cost-effective transportation grows, we can anticipate increased investments in high-speed rail in the future.

Growth in the High-Speed Rail Market

Many of the world’s cities renowned for their excellent public transportation systems boast extensive railway networks. However, the COVID-19 pandemic created significant disruptions in the global rail market. Governments worldwide imposed lockdowns, restricted travel, and businesses operated at reduced capacity, resulting in reduced demand and waning consumer interest. Nevertheless, the post-pandemic era has witnessed a resurgence in the demand for faster and more efficient commuting, which bodes well for the high-speed rail market’s future growth.

Read Also: Best TV Soundbars of 2023

According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global high-speed and bullet train market was valued at $42.5 billion in 2021. The market is expected to exhibit a compound annual growth rate of 6.3% from 2022 to 2031, propelling it to reach approximately $77.6 billion by the end of the forecast period. High-speed trains are increasingly seen as a solution to ease traffic congestion while providing comfortable and rapid transportation between locations. The appeal lies in their ability to cover long distances swiftly and cost-effectively. The surging demand for safe, efficient transport, coupled with the growing reliance on public transit services, is anticipated to drive the high-speed rail market’s expansion. Key players in this market, such as Alstom SA (EPA:ALO), ABB Ltd. (NYSE:ABB), and Siemens AG (ETR:SIE), are poised to benefit from this heightened demand.

Notably, the demand for high-speed railways extends to a range of services, including passenger and freight operations, with passenger ridership in the railway industry witnessing significant growth in recent years. The quest for cost-effective and efficient rail solutions is driven by the promise of reduced commute times and enhanced travel experiences, a trend expected to persist in the forecast period.

In the United States, for instance, Amtrak and Texas Central Partners are seeking federal grants to develop high-speed rail service connecting Dallas and Houston. This ambitious project could reduce travel time between these major metropolitan areas to less than 90 minutes. Congress has allocated $66 billion for rail, with $22 billion earmarked for Amtrak, underlining the commitment to improving rail infrastructure in the country.

Additionally, railway infrastructure enhancements, especially in developing nations, coupled with the revival of high-speed rail projects, are poised to create numerous expansion opportunities for the market. For example, Malaysia is soliciting proposals from private firms to rejuvenate a multi-billion dollar high-speed railway project connecting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

However, challenges such as high capital requirements and global inflation may pose hurdles to the high-speed rail market’s growth. In the United Kingdom, the HS2 rail project, a massive infrastructure endeavor, has faced cost overruns, prompting delays in construction. The project aims to establish a high-speed railway network to rival those in other European countries, but inflationary pressures and rising project costs have necessitated adjustments in its timeline.

Read More: Google New Android Logo and 3D Robot

In conclusion, the high-speed rail market is poised for growth as demand for efficient, rapid transportation solutions continues to rise globally. While challenges persist, such as funding and inflation, governments and private enterprises are actively investing in high-speed rail networks to meet the demand for faster, more reliable commuting options.

High-Speed Rail Market Leaders

ABB Ltd. (NYSE:ABB) plays a pivotal role in the high-speed rail market. This Swedish-Swiss multinational technology group is a renowned manufacturer of traction systems, supplying its advanced traction technology to high-speed trains worldwide. ABB Ltd. has contributed various equipment to power high-speed trains, including gas-insulated switchgear technology, static var compensators, and traction transformers.

As reported by CNBC on July 11, Alstom SA (EPA:ALO) and Siemens AG (ETR:SIE) are gearing up for a passenger rail renaissance in the United States. The rail industry is expected to witness increased investment in passenger rolling stock across North America, encompassing metro, passenger coaches, light rail, high-speed rail, and locomotives. This surge in investment is a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), passed in 2021, which allocated $66 billion to enhance the country’s rail system. Marc Buncher, President and CEO of Siemens AG (ETR:SIE) Mobility North America, highlighted the significance of federal funding, stating that it has been a catalyst for growth in the passenger rail industry.

The report also sheds light on Alstom SA (EPA:ALO), which is currently working at its facility in Hornell, New York, to fulfill an order from Amtrak, the federally owned U.S. passenger train operator, aimed at upgrading its Acela train fleet. Scott Sherin, Chief Commercial Officer at Alstom SA US (EPA:ALO), underscored the transformation of the U.S. rolling stock supply chain, with the influx of foreign direct investment and the establishment of factories and capabilities.

On September 6, The Wall Street Journal reported on the fierce competition between Alstom SA (EPA:ALO) and Siemens AG (ETR:SIE) for a $12 billion high-speed train project connecting Las Vegas, reflecting the substantial opportunity that high-speed rail presents in the United States. Both companies are eager to capitalize on the infrastructure law and high-speed rail projects that could revolutionize rail investment and services in the U.S. Alstom SA (EPA:ALO) highlighted its experience in constructing the replacement for Amtrak’s first-generation Acela, a $2 billion initiative aimed at delivering the fastest passenger rail fleet in the country.

On July 25, Alstom SA (EPA:ALO) reported that during the first quarter of 2023/24 (from April 1 to June 30, 2023), the company booked orders worth EUR 3.9 billion, with sales reaching EUR 4.2 billion in the same period, marking a 4.3% increase from the previous year. The results align with Alstom SA’s projected growth trajectory, with Rolling Stock sales for the quarter totaling EUR 2.29 billion, reflecting a 5.5% rise compared to the first quarter of the previous fiscal year.

Now that we’ve covered recent developments and trends in the global high-speed rail network, let’s explore the top 20 countries with the most extensive high-speed rail networks. If you prefer to skip our in-depth analysis, feel free to proceed.

The Approach We Follow

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top countries with the most extensive high-speed rail networks. To gather this information, we turned to a comprehensive report released by the International Union of Railways (UIC) that focuses on global high-speed rail data. We utilized the most recent data available, which is from 2022, to rank these countries based on the length of their operational high-speed rail networks. It’s important to note that the lengths of these networks are measured in kilometers (km). So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the 20 countries with the largest high-speed rail networks, presented in ascending order.

Top Countries With Largest High Speed Rail Network

1. China

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 40,474 Kilometers

China takes the lead on our list of the top 20 countries with the most extensive high-speed rail networks, boasting an impressive 40,474 kilometers of high-speed rail. China’s high-speed rail network outpaces the rest by a considerable margin, accounting for a whopping two-thirds of the world’s total high-speed railway networks. This extensive network includes newly constructed rail lines that can accommodate high-speed trains cruising at speeds ranging from 250 to 350 km/h. It’s a testament to China’s commitment to high-speed rail transportation.

2. Spain

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 3,661 Kilometers

Spain introduced its high-speed railways back in 1992, with the inaugural line connecting the cities of Madrid, Córdoba, and Seville. Today, Spain boasts an impressive 3,661 kilometers of high-speed rail network, making it the largest in Europe and the second largest globally. This extensive network serves as a vital transportation link, facilitating swift connections between Spanish cities. The high-speed Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) trains, operating on this extensive network, reach speeds of up to 310 km/h, offering efficient and rapid travel options within Spain.

3. Japan

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 3,081 Kilometers

Japan is renowned for its iconic bullet trains, known as the Shinkansen. This remarkable high-speed railway network was initially constructed to connect distant regions of Japan with its bustling capital, Tokyo, all in the name of promoting economic growth and development. Among the pioneering routes, the Tokaido Shinkansen, which links three of Japan’s largest cities—Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, remains one of the world’s most heavily traveled high-speed rail lines. Japan’s high-speed rail network spans an impressive 3,081 kilometers, securing its place at number 3 on our list of the top 20 countries with the most extensive high-speed rail networks.

4. France

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 2,735 Kilometers

France inaugurated its first high-speed railway, the LGV Sud-Est, back in 1981, linking the suburbs of Paris with Lyon. Fast forward to 2022, and France stands as one of the leading countries with an extensive network of high-speed rail lines, spanning an impressive 2,735 kilometers. What’s more, France continues to invest in the future of rail travel, with plans for new lines in the works and ongoing construction on some existing routes. This commitment to high-speed rail underscores France’s dedication to modern and efficient transportation.

5. Germany

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 1,571 Kilometers

Germany, with its extensive high-speed rail network spanning 1,571 kilometers, secures a spot in the top 5 countries globally with impressive rail infrastructure. Within this network, Germany boasts not only upgraded lines but also several new ones where trains can zip along at speeds of around 300 km/h. Furthermore, Germany’s commitment to enhancing its rail system is evident as there are ongoing construction projects for additional high-speed rail lines. This investment in high-speed rail underscores Germany’s dedication to efficient and modern transportation solutions.

6. Finland

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 1,120 Kilometers

In the year 2022, Finland proudly boasts a high-speed rail network that stretches over 1,120 kilometers and is actively serving the public. This network is efficiently connected by Tilting Alstom Pendolino high-speed trains, which link the country’s capital city, Helsinki, with other major urban centers across Finland. These trains are designed to reach impressive speeds of up to 250 km/h, ensuring swift and efficient travel for passengers within the country.

7. Turkey

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 1,052 Kilometers

Turkey introduced its inaugural high-speed train service in 2009, marking the beginning of an impressive expansion of its high-speed rail network. As of 2022, Turkey can proudly lay claim to 1,052 kilometers of high-speed rail network in active commercial operation. This accomplishment firmly positions Turkey among the nations boasting extensive high-speed rail infrastructure. Furthermore, Turkey is actively pursuing plans for additional high-speed rail lines, with some currently under construction and others in the planning stages. This forward-looking approach underscores Turkey’s commitment to the ongoing growth and development of its high-speed rail network in the coming years.

8. Italy

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 921 Kilometers

Italy’s introduction to high-speed rail came back in 1977 with the inauguration of the Direttissima line. This pioneering route seamlessly connected Rome to Florence, offering travelers speeds of up to 250 km/h. Fast forward to today, and Italy’s high-speed rail network has evolved to encompass two main lines, where trains can now reach impressive speeds of 300 km/h. These high-speed rail connections efficiently link many of Italy’s major cities, making travel across the country faster and more convenient. In total, Italy boasts a high-speed rail network spanning 921 kilometers.

9. South Korea

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 873 Kilometers

South Korea introduced its commercial high-speed rail service in 2004, marking a significant milestone in modern transportation. As of 2022, South Korea boasts an extensive high-speed rail network spanning 873 kilometers, earning it the honorable ninth position in our compilation of the top 20 countries with the most extensive high-speed rail networks. The country is served by two high-speed rail operators, namely the Super Rapid Train and Korea Train eXpress.

One remarkable feature of South Korea’s high-speed rail system is its impressive speed capability. On the majority of its lines, high-speed trains can zip along at speeds exceeding 300 km/h. This commitment to efficiency and cutting-edge technology underscores South Korea’s dedication to providing a fast and convenient mode of travel for its citizens and visitors alike.

10. Sweden

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 860 Kilometers

Sweden’s public transportation system stands as a shining example of efficiency within Europe. In the year 2022, Sweden proudly boasts a high-speed rail network encompassing 860 kilometers of operational track. A notable feature of Sweden’s rail system is the ability of many trains, such as the SJ High Speed trains, to reach high speeds, ensuring swift travel for passengers.

What’s equally impressive is that there are hundreds of kilometers of track already prepared for operation in the country. This forward-thinking approach to rail infrastructure highlights Sweden’s commitment to providing an efficient and effective mode of transportation for its citizens and visitors.

11. USA

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 735 Kilometers

While the United States was among the pioneers in adopting high-speed trains, its high-speed rail network struggled to expand as expected. As of the latest data in 2022, the USA’s high-speed rail network spans 735 kilometers, positioning it at the 11th spot in our ranking of the top 20 countries with extensive high-speed rail networks.

In the USA, Amtrak’s Acela trains are a notable highlight, boasting impressive top speeds of 265 km/h. Additionally, various other rail services in the country offer high-speed travel options, albeit at slightly lower top speeds. While the USA’s high-speed rail journey has been somewhat slower compared to some other nations, these advancements underscore the ongoing efforts to enhance rail travel options across the country.

12. Saudi Arabia

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 449 Kilometers

Saudi Arabia proudly hosts the world’s first desert high-speed railway, measuring in at 449 kilometers in commercial operation. The Haramain Express, a true marvel, not only claims this title but also holds the distinction of being the kingdom’s first double-track electrified high-speed railway. This achievement marks a transformative experience in land travel within Saudi Arabia.

The journey to bring this remarkable project to life began in 2009, with Chinese companies playing a pivotal role in its construction. Finally, in 2018, the Haramain Express was unveiled to the public, opening up new horizons in rail travel and offering a remarkable transportation experience for the people of Saudi Arabia and visitors alike.

13. Austria

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 254 Kilometers

Austria secures the 13th spot on our list of 20 countries with a high-speed rail network covering 254 kilometers. However, Austria’s future in high-speed rail looks promising, with numerous projects currently in progress. These projects, expected to be completed over the next 10-15 years, could propel Austria to a much higher ranking.

One noteworthy project is the Brenner Base Tunnel, currently under construction, which will allow trains to reach speeds of up to 250 km/h. This infrastructure development underscores Austria’s commitment to enhancing its high-speed rail capabilities.

Looking beyond Austria, some key players in the global high-speed rail market are poised to benefit from the expansion of high-speed rail networks worldwide. These include companies like Alstom SA (EPA: ALO), ABB Ltd. (NYSE: ABB), and Siemens AG (ETR: SIE), which are well-positioned to contribute to the continued growth of high-speed rail around the globe.

14. Poland

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 224 Kilometers

In 2014, Poland introduced its high-speed rail service, marking a significant development in its transportation infrastructure. The launch included the presentation of twenty non-tilting Pendolino train sets, which were set to operate on four designated lines radiating out from Warsaw, the capital city.

Fast forward to 2022, and Poland’s high-speed rail network in active commercial operation spans a total of 224 kilometers. This investment in high-speed rail underscores Poland’s commitment to modernizing and enhancing its rail connectivity, offering travelers an efficient and rapid means of transportation within the country.

15. Belgium

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 209 Kilometers

Belgium secures the 15th spot on our list of the top 20 countries with a high-speed rail network covering a distance of 209 kilometers. Currently, Belgium boasts four high-speed train services in operation.

It’s worth noting that Belgium’s high-speed rail network primarily focuses on international connections, facilitating travel from Brussels to neighboring countries such as France, Germany, and The Netherlands. This strategic positioning as a hub for cross-border travel underscores Belgium’s role in enhancing regional connectivity and facilitating efficient transportation options for both its citizens and international travelers.

16. Morocco

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 186 Kilometers

In 2018, Morocco celebrated a significant milestone with the launch of its very first high-speed rail line. This groundbreaking achievement, the first of its kind on the entire African continent, goes by the name “Al Boraq,” a reference to the mystical creature in Islamic tradition that transported the prophets.

The high-speed rail line is divided into two sections, and the newly established route stretching from Tangier to Kenitra stands out with an impressive top speed of 320 kilometers per hour. This development has added 186 kilometers to Morocco’s high-speed rail network, showcasing the country’s commitment to modernizing its transportation infrastructure and providing swift, efficient, and innovative rail travel options for its people and visitors.

17. Switzerland

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 176 Kilometers

Switzerland secures the 17th spot on our list of the top 20 countries with an extensive high-speed rail network, spanning a total of 176 kilometers in commercial operation. Switzerland’s dedication to enhancing its rail infrastructure is evident through the addition of two new high-speed rail lines and the construction of three new base tunnels.

These developments underscore Switzerland’s commitment to providing efficient and modern transportation options, further improving connectivity within the country and across its borders. Switzerland continues to play an essential role in Europe’s well-connected rail network.

18. United Kingdom

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 113 Kilometers

The United Kingdom, also a European contender, makes its mark on our list of countries with extensive high-speed rail networks, boasting a network of 113 kilometers. What’s noteworthy is that the UK has ambitious plans to further expand and enhance its high-speed rail infrastructure.

Since 2019, the country has been actively engaged in the construction of High Speed 2 (HS2), a substantial and purpose-built high-speed rail line. This impressive project is set to connect London with major cities in the North and the Midlands, promising not only improved connectivity but also reduced travel times to Scotland. This commitment to modernizing its rail network highlights the UK’s dedication to efficient and convenient transportation for its citizens and visitors alike.

19. The Netherlands

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 90 Kilometers

In the Netherlands, the operational high-speed rail network spans a total of 90 kilometers, providing travelers with efficient transportation options. This advancement began in 2009 with the inauguration of the HSL-Zuid line, which effectively connects the Randstad region through Brussels to the broader European high-speed rail network.

In the global high-speed rail market, several key players stand out as influential contributors. Notable among them are companies like Alstom SA (EPA: ALO), ABB Ltd. (NYSE: ABB), and Siemens AG (ETR: SIE), who play vital roles in shaping and advancing high-speed rail technology and infrastructure worldwide.

20. Denmark

Length Of The High Speed Rail Network: 56 Kilometers

Kicking off our list of 20 countries with extensive high-speed rail networks is Denmark, with a total of 56 kilometers of high-speed rail network. Denmark achieved this milestone with the opening of the Copenhagen-Ringsted Line in 2019, marking its debut in the realm of high-speed rail.

What’s exciting is that Denmark has even more in store for the future, with numerous high-speed railway lines currently in the planning stages. This forward-thinking approach highlights Denmark’s commitment to providing fast and efficient rail transportation options, ensuring a well-connected and modernized transportation infrastructure for its citizens and visitors.