Development of Modern Passenger Trains

Leadership in the development of modern passenger trains shifted away from the United States in the second half of the 20th century. In 1965 Japanese National Railways inaugurated high-speed rail service on its electrified Tokaido line, serving industrial centers on the east coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu. By 1968 , 60 trains made 160 trips each day over various distances on the 515-km (320-mi) route between Tokyo and Osaka, at speeds of 217 km/h (135 mph). Later extensions lengthened the route to 1,136 km (706 mi), from Tokyo to Hakata.

Train Station in Siberia

This train station in Siberia is part of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, which provides service between Moscow and the eastern port of Vladivostok.

The railroad is the primary land route connecting western and eastern Russia. Raw materials, freight, military equipment, food, and people regularly make the 9,200 km (5,500 mi) journey.

The Talgo (Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol) train was first developed in Spain in the 1940s and named after Spanish engineer Alejandro Goicoechea and financier Jose Luis Oriol. The train design includes lightweight cars with a low center of gravity and only two wheels, all features that greatly improved acceleration and maneuverability. The train shown here is a Talgo III, first introduced in the 1960s.

In Europe, both France and the United Kingdom developed their own high-speed services. In 1981, French National Railways began running the train a grande vitesse, or TGV, between Paris and Lyon and between Paris and Geneva, at average speeds of about 270 km/h (about 168 mph) on routes that were built expressly for this service.

British Rail, rather than build new routes for fast trains, began to develop the Advanced Passenger Train (APT) to operate over existing tracks. The APT was designed to use special tilting mechanisms that would permit trains to negotiate curves at speeds of up to 210 km/hr (about 130 mph) far faster than conventional passenger trains are permitted to travel. After numerous delays because of problems with the train's stabilization system, British Rail abandoned the ATP project. Using some elements of APT technology, the High Speed Train 225 was developed. HST 225 service between London and Scotland began in 1984, by which time British Rail was already looking for a more satisfactory replacement.

The French high-speed train Train a Grande Vitesse travels at about 320 km/h (200 mph) on specially built track.

The electrified ICE is Germany's fastest train, traveling at speeds of 250 km/h (155 mph). ICE routes link many of Germany's major cities and provide efficient and comfortable transportation.

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