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Posted by on Apr 3, 2007 in Science & Technology | 13 comments

French Train Breaks Rail Speed Record At 354.1 MPH

A new French train has broken rail speed records — going so fast (354.1 mph) that you’d think it was a car on a California freeway:

A high-speed French train with a souped-up engine and wheels broke the world speed record Tuesday for conventional rail trains, surpassing 354.1 mph.

The black and chrome train with three double-decker cars, named the V150, bettered the previous record of 320.2 mph but fell just short of the ultimate record set by Japan’s magnetically levitated train, which sped to 361 mph in 2003.

The TGV, short for “train a grande vitesse,� as France’s bullet trains are called, was equipped with larger wheels than the usual TGV to cover more ground with each rotation and a stronger, 25,000-horsepower engine, said Alain Cuccaroni, in charge of the technical aspects of testing.

Reuters reports:

The previous speed record for a train running on rails was 515.3 kph, set in France in 1990.

Apart from France’s Train a Grande Vitesse (TGV) and Japan’s Shinkansen, high-speed trains are also made by Germany’s Siemens and Canada’s Bombardier.

The V150 was made up of two normal cars that will run on the eastern TGV track, three double-decker carriages and three sets of motorised wheels. The train can develop over 25,000 horsepower, twice that of a conventional TGV…

Stories about train travel in Europe and Asia are always bittersweet news for Americans, where rail travel often remains on life-support and has been allowed to virtually wither on the vine.