College Physics 2.9 – Zephyr Speed Record for Trains

On May 26, 1934, a streamlined, stainless steel diesel train called the Zephyr set the world’s nonstop long-distance speed record for trains. Its run from Denver to Chicago took 13 hours, 4 minutes, 58 seconds, and was witnessed by more than a million people along the route. The total distance traveled was 1633.8 km. What was its average speed in km/h and m/s?


The total time of travel is converted to seconds.

 \displaystyle \text{t}=\left(13\:\text{h}\:\times \frac{3600\:\text{s}}{1\:\text{hr}}\right)+\left(4\:\text{mins}\:\times \frac{60\:\text{s}}{1\:\min }\right)+58\:\sec

\displaystyle \text{t}=47\:098\:\text{seconds}

The total time of travel in hours

\displaystyle  \text{t}=\left(47\:098\:\text{seconds}\right)\left(\frac{1\:\text{h}}{3600\:\sec }\right)=13.0828\:\text{hours}

Therefore, the average speed in km/hr is

\displaystyle \text{speed in km/hr}=\frac{\text{distance traveled}}{\text{time}}=\frac{1633.8\:\text{km}}{13.0828\:\text{hr}}=124.88\:\text{km/hr}

And the average speed in m/s is

\displaystyle \text{speed in m/s}=\frac{1\:633\:800\:\text{m}}{47\:098\:\text{s}}=34.689\:\text{m/s}