To anyone who might still doubt the raw power of electric vehicles, consider this: A French bullet train—which draws its power from overhead lines—set a world speed record for conventional rail trains yesterday, hitting 357.2 miles an hour with two locomotives and three passenger cars. It used a 25,000-horsepower engine and specially modified wheels to accomplish the feat.
Let’s think about that for a moment. It’s 100 mph faster than the Bugatti Veyron, the fastest production car in the world. At 357.2 mph, you cover six miles each minute, a tenth of a mile each second. The effect on spectators was thunderous (check out the video above at the 3-minute mark as the train whooshes under an overpass at the moment the record falls, much to the delight of the French TV newscaster live on the scene). I can’t imagine what would have happened if, say, a cow had wandered onto the track; it probably would have just been vaporized. If anything had happened to the train itself, it would have been curtains for everyone—and one of the most terrible, protracted crashes in history.
By the way, it’s still not the fastest train on Earth. A Japanese maglev (magnetically levitated) train hit 361 mph in 2003. —Eric Adams