The World’s Fastest Train: Taking the Maglev to Shanghai Airport


Being summer school holidays, all the trains between Shanghai and Xi’an were booked out well in advance and we weren’t even able to get a standing ticket. So it was back on a plane for the two of us, flights quickly eating into our budget. Warning – check if there are holidays in China before you go!

John was rather excited about flying, because it meant we had to go to the airport…and Shanghai has a Maglev train [a train travelling by electro-magnetic levitation] that goes to the Pudong International Airport. And it just so happens to be the fastest permanently-operating train in the world, with a top speed of 431 km/hour.

John gets far, far more excited about trains than I do. Just saying. Still, I’ll admit the idea of taking a really really fast train was kind of appealing.

Maglev-4 Maglev-3

We had to take the metro to the same station we’d previously visited to file a police report, and change there for the maglev train. You can take the train just for the sake of taking the world’s fastest train, but if you actually have a flight leaving the same day you get a 10 RMB discount on the one-way ticket. Unfortunately you don’t get to keep the ticket. There was no way to pocket this potential souvenir as we had to stick it in a machine to get out.


The train was pretty comfy, and it was fast. It doesn’t feel fast when you’re in the train, but when you see everything flying past you outside you realise that it’s a lot faster than it feels. And then soon the journey’s over and you’re at the airport – and you know it’s coming, because you’ve been excitedly watching the monitor to check on the speed and it’s rapidly decreasing. It probably goes without saying that it’s more fun watching the numbers go up than down.


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