7 fastest trains in Southeast Asia: progressing toward the world's speedster

7 fastest trains in Southeast Asia: progressing toward the world's speedster

Despite the fact that flying to nearby inland cities appears to be the quickest option, the total travel time it takes to reach the airport and complete baggage handling at the airport destination is indeed akin to that of taking a train. 

After Japan's inaugural Shinkansen bullet train, more countries are now embracing high-speed rail as a mode of transportation. Not only does it offer remarkable time and cost efficiency, but it is also providing a greener alternative and promising economic growth in areas situated between stations.

Southeast Asian countries, surely, have been enticed by the irresistible pledge, propelling them into intriguing progress in their pursuit of faster and broader train systems.

For those seeking an attempt at riding rapid trains to traverse within Southeast Asia, these seven lists of the fastest trains in the region, as of November 2023, may pique your interest.

1. WHOOSH: 350km/h (Indonesia)

WHOOSH takes the podium as the first high-speed train in Southeast Asia. It covers a distance of 142.3 km, connecting the bustling capital city of Jakarta with Bandung, the third largest city in Indonesia, with a fare of approximately $19.1 for a roughly 50-minute complete journey. This China's Fuxing CR400AF, the train type used by WHOOSH, operates at a higher velocity than Japan’s 320 km/h Shinkansen bullet trains.

2. Laos China Railway: 160 km/h (Laos)

This semi-high-speed train is indeed a source of pride and a revolution for Laos' transport. It signifies the first expansion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and high-speed rail system into Southeast Asia, which is planned to end in Singapore.

An estimated 1,000 km of rail line connects the capital of Vientiane with Kunming, the capital city of the Chinese province of Yunnan. A complete 10.5-hour trip with first-class tickets costing roughly $110 and second-class tickets priced at $68.

3. KLIA Ekspres: 160 km/h (Malaysia)

KLIA Ekspres is one of the popular choices among travelers to commute from Kuala Lumpur Sentral, the city center, to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). The track spans 57 km and offers a complete journey at a cost of roughly $11.79 for around 28 minutes to KLIA T1 and 31 minutes to KLIA T2. In a remarkable feat of Germany’s Siemens engineering, the train has been manufactured with a maximum speed of 200 km/h; however, it is capped at a maximum of 160 km/h operating speed.

4. Suvarnabhumi Airport Link: 160 km/h (Thailand)

Bangkok Airport Link serves as a vital commuter rail line, seamlessly connecting Suvarnabhumi Airport to Phaya Thai (BTS) station in downtown Bangkok via Makassan Station (MRT Petchaburi). The State Railway of Thailand owns and the Asia Era One Company, Ltd. operates the train system. This 26-minute trip on the 28.6-kilometer track using Germany’s Siemens electric multiple units will set you back about $1.26.

5. Electric Train Service (ETS): 140 km/h (Malaysia)

Running over the electrified and double-tracked section of the West Coast Line between Gemas and Padang Besar on the Malaysia-Thai border, this inter-city rail service is the fastest meter-gauge train service.

As of January 2022, it links 36 stations over more than 755 km, with fares ranging from $1.93 to $21.86 through three tiers of classes: Platinum, Gold, and Silver.

6. North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR): 120 km/h (The Philippines)

The NSCR is a 147-route-km suburban railway network that joins the northern regional development areas of Clark and New Clark City, via downtown Manila, to Calamba City in Laguna province in the capital’s southern region. Services on the rails will comprise commuter train, semi-fast service, and airport express: the fastest with an operating speed of 160 km/h. The whole project is expected to complete by 2028.

7. State Railway of Thailand ASR Class: 120 km/h (Thailand)

ASR Class train go by the moniker “Sprinter” among Thai people. These Great Britain’s manufactured diesel multiple units serve as a vital connection, linking Bangkok to multiple cities across Thailand. Take the record-breaking time it takes to go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, a region in northern Thailand, as an example. It completes a staggering 1 hour and 55 minutes faster than any other train available.

In an attempt to join the world's speedsters, a number of Southeast Asian nations are currently constructing and proposing a growing array of high-speed and semi-high-speed trains.


Source: multiple official and reliable sources.

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