It happens many times that we hear of some new invention, a gadget, a vehicle, or simply an application that is quite innovative but never reaches its glory. It does not always mean that the invention was useless or stupid. Sometimes, it is only because it is too far ahead of its time. As we strive to create the fastest transportation network with Hyperloops, the best prototype of which has only made it to 200 mph, the Russian achieved speeds of 400 km/h (~248 mph) with their Wagon TA-05 trains.
The USSR was going through the most critical political instability of the 1980s. It brought along massive transport challenges to the population of 139 million people. This was when Maglev Trains popped in the Wagon TA-05 as a solution that was the first of its kind in the USSR. The magnetic levitation trains were only designed for a capacity of a few dozen people, and the company hoped to use them for both short and long distance journeys.
Tha little trains looked more like spaceships, but they had potential to reach speeds of 400 km/h. It should not be very hard to believe as the Soviet Russia was quite ahead in production as demonstrated by their kick-ass fighter jets and weaponry.
During the Soviet era, the outside world did not have much access to the products and the life inside the country for many reasons, so many of their developments went unnoticed in the world. A common person knows much more about Europe, the U.S, and even East Asia when compared to Russia. Very few dream to visit any of the former USSR states but the countries hold such amazing buildings that appear to be from another world.
The spaceship-like magnetic levitation train developed in the Soviet Russia looks like it boomed out of a Sci-Fi movie. Guess what, It was featured in one as well! Many gadgets, electronics, and vehicles from the Societ-era are unknown to the world for various reasons. One of the reasons is the technical standards of the Western world that are poles apart from the Russia. This kept the number of imports quite low at that time.
The high-speed trains were developed during a time when the USSR was going through quite a tragic end, splitting into pieces. The conditions forced the project to go down even before they completed the testing phase. Imagine how different things would have been if the project continued. There is no doubt that Russia would have become the first one to feature the high-speed trains.
Better luck next time!