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I want to take a TGV for the experience of traveling very fast on the ground. The Lyria trains are advertised to travel at 524+ km/hr. The TGV I took only went 300 km/hr. Does anyone know which routes travel at full speed, preferably one that connects with Paris?

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There is some confusion, top commercial speed for TGV is 320 km/hr between Paris and Lorraine (on the way to Metz, Nancy, Strasbourg, Luxembourg, or Germany). Some conventional high-speed trains run or ran at 350 in Spain and China, 400-430 with Maglev technology, but not at 500 and more. Some parts of the French high-speed network were also designed to support 350 or 360 but to my knowledge no trains have ever been scheduled for commercial service at these speeds in France.

I don't know where the 524 figure comes from, but various TGV trains have held the world speed record for conventional trains at 408.4 (1988), 515.3 (1990), and finally 574.8 (2007). Those were achieved with slightly modified but mostly standard trainsets so the TGV is capable of higher speeds than 300 but you can't experience them anywhere at the moment.

In fact, the train is not the only thing that must be modified to reach record speeds, the overhead line are also adjusted so that each record attempt corresponds (not coincidentally) to the end of the construction of a new high-speed line in France as it is the only time when a new series of test runs can be organised without unduly disrupting operations.

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    I saw the 524km/hr (maybe it was 574) painted on the side of a TGV Lyria train. If that was the record, I think that explains the advertisement. – Owen Johnson Jul 28 '15 at 20:15
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    @OwenJohnson Did it look like this? Except TGV 001 (for the 1972 speed record), all the locomotives used in the various records were put back in regular operations and SNCF always put a sign on them. The POS rolling stock has been redecorated and sold to Lyria so you might have seen the actual “record train”. It's still being used today as are the ones from the 1981 and 1990 records. – Relaxed Jul 28 '15 at 20:41
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    A slightly different train is the Shanghai Maglev which runs normal operations at up to 431 km/h. – Greg Hewgill Jul 28 '15 at 20:42
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    "slightly modified but mostly standard trainsets" Well, fewer passenger carriages, extra aerodynamic fairings, membranes between the carriages, larger wheels. And the track was modified to increase the banking on curves and the overhead line voltage was increased from 25kV to 31kV and extra tension put in the cables. – David Richerby Jul 28 '15 at 21:24
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    @DavidRicherby A few other things were changed (not always the same for each record) but I don't see any contradiction with what I wrote and I don't think the details are particularly relevant. The changes to the overhead lines seem more consequential and are alluded to in the next paragraph. Note that a lot of these changes are important to squeeze every last bit of performance above 500 but not necessarily to go faster than 300, which is explicitly what this paragraph is about. – Relaxed Jul 28 '15 at 22:05
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As an addendum to Relaxed's excellent answer, there's only one place on the planet right now where the public can experience traveling at 500+ km/h on a train, and that's JR Central's Yamanashi maglev test track in Japan.

However, test runs open to the public are scheduled only irregularly, and are extremely popular. The last runs for 2,400 lucky winners were in November 2014, and there were over 300,000 applicants.

On the upside, the current test track is being extended into the new Chuo Shinkansen maglev service between Tokyo and Nagoya, which will operate with L0 trainsets at up to 505 km/h. (This train is also the current holder of the world speed record, 603 km/h.) While the full line is not scheduled to open until 2027, JR Central is looking into running partial service during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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From one of my professor, in a French transportation engineering school, the main reason for TGV in France "only" going at 320 km/h are security and comfort standards.

In fact, for security, the main reason is that TGV are attended to be able to stop within, if i'm not mistaken, like 3350 meters or so (order value). driving at more than 500km/h means so that this stop distance will increase a lot with current systems, thus not meeting standards.

Regarding comfort, most of the turns on TGV tracks are calculated to not provide too much discomfort for passengers (I think it's about felt acceleration), and going fast will increase this discomfort.

Finally, yes this is possible with a TGV to go at 500km/h, but the whole current systems (TGV and their track) need to be changed, and that cost too much actually (and I did not mention other aspects like wear and tear, electricity costs and so on).

  • That's interesting, but does not answer the question. You should add some text to explain that it is not possible to ride a TGV at 500+ Km/h, or detail under which special circumstances (test on closed course for instance) it would be possible. – gmauch Jul 29 '15 at 16:54
  • @gmauch The first sentence explains that the whole answer is about why TGVs don't travel above 320kph in passenger service. The fact that they don't travel above 320kph clearly implies that they do not travel at 500kph. – David Richerby Jul 29 '15 at 18:59
  • (+1) Usury veut dire “usure” au sens de prêter de l'argent à un taux d'intérêt anormalement élevé. – Relaxed Jul 30 '15 at 8:14
  • The "discomfort" would be more of a feature to certain passenger groups, others would be willing to tolerate it in exchange for getting someplace fast without airport hassle. – rackandboneman Jul 3 '17 at 20:41

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