Ever since the 1895 short film "Train Pulling into a Station" terrified viewers into thinking a vehicle was about to hurtle right at them - trains are still surprising us today. Check out these startling examples of high technology that may well take over the future.
The bullet train
Everyone knows that the Shinkansen, or Japan’s bullet train, is one of the most hi-tech trains in the world. It’s fast, reaching speeds of 275mph on test runs, and it’s a wonderfully smooth ride. Best of all, how many hi-tech trains can boast an onboard spa for their passengers?
The shinkansen that runs between Fukushima and Shinjo has 2.4mX50cm footbaths to relax in during the two hour journey. After bathing, zone out in the adjoining tatami mat filled carriage to ensure that this is one super-relaxing commute. On test runs the Shinkansen has reached 275 mph and over the course of it’s lifetime has carried six billion people; almost the world’s entire population.
The levitating train
Those wanting to leave Shanghai should eschew the bus and instead take the Shanghai Transrapid Maglev Train. Reaching speeds of up to 431km/h (commercial speed) this train magnetically levitates from Shanghai's towering downtown out to Pudong International, one of the world's busiest airports.
You won't have long to take pictures: the train takes only seven minutes to speed the 30 kilometres from Longyang Road to the airport, and can reach 350 km/ph in just two minutes.
The Glacier Express
The name's a bit of a misnomer, as this is a pretty slow train. But you wouldn't want it to go any faster, because then you'd miss out on some of the most beautiful scenery you'll ever see.
The Glacier Express climbs 168 miles between St Moritz and Zermatt and requires two high-gauge rail tracks to climb the Swiss Alps it traverses; hence why so hi-tech. This train practically has crampons and an ice-pick to get it up the steep mountains, where customers are treated to the views of the craggy peaks of the Alps that are accented against the deep blue sky.
The Harmony Express
China is huge and has been crying out for a hi-tech, hi-speed train service for years.
Welcome to the stage the CHR2 Harmony Express. Opened in 2013, and with the maximum speed now set at 300 kmph, the Harmony Express is the world's fastest long distance train service.
Just two years ago it could take more than 11 hours to travel between Guangzhou to Wuhan by train: now the Express zips along that same route in just three hours.
The Rocky Mountaineer
The Rocky Mountaineer runs along the ice-blue lakes of Western Canada and tumbling pine covered mountainsides of the Rockies before pulling into Whistler, Canada. The lines has extended to include four routes-Vancouver to Banff and Calgary; Whistler to Jasper; Vancouver to Seattle and Vancouver to Jasper.
Ok, so it's not hi-tech Maglev modern, but with glass domed ceilings to take in the best views, and an outside viewing platform at the back of the train, the Rocky Mountaineer certainly has more gadgets that you're average commuter.
The tilting train
An oldie but goodie, the Virgin Pendolino became the first train to cut travelling time between London and Glasgow to under 3 hours 55 minutes. Thanks to its tilt this train is able to maintain speed around curves in the track - the centrifugal force is minimised when the train leans into bends - making it enormously efficient along Britain’s meandering railway lines.
The Virgin Class 390 Pendolino can reach top speeds of 140mph. This doesn't sound all that speedy, but because of it's super efficient tilt mechanism, the Virgin 390 class can navigate Britain's rails smoothly and without a single hitch.