Xinjiang's first high-speed rail starts operation

Photo taken on Nov. 16, 2014 shows the CRH train D8602 at Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi, capital of northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The first high-speed rail in northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region became operational on Nov. 16, slashing travel time between the regional capital of Urumqi and the eastern city of Hami by half to three hours. The 530-km rail, with a designed speed of over 200 km per hour, is part of the 1,776-km Lanxin high-speed railway linking Urumqi with Lanzhou, capital of northwestern province of Gansu, which will be put into service by the end of this year. Photos: Xinhua

The first high-speed rail in northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region became operational on Sunday, slashing travel time between the regional capital of Urumqi and the eastern city of Hami by half to three hours.

The 530-km rail line, with a designed speed of over 200 km per hour, is part of the 1,776-km Lanxin high-speed railway linking Urumqi with Lanzhou, capital of the northwestern province of Gansu, which will be put into service by the end of this year.

The railway crosses a vast expanse of the Gobi Desert and windy areas. It will be connected further with China′s booming high-speed rail network to play a key role in the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative raised by China to boost cooperation with central and western Asian nations.

The Xinjiang railway bureau said a high-speed railway connecting Lanzhou and Beijing is now under construction and expected to be completed by 2017, which will reduce travel time between Urumqi and Beijing from the current 41 hours to 16 hours.

Xinjiang sits in the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt, and a high-speed railway is bound to promote its role as a traffic hub.

The management committee of Horgos Port at the China-Kazakhstan border predicted that the high-speed rail would expand flows of people, goods and capital both in and out and help to improve the port′s international standing.

As the only railway connecting Xinjiang with other provincial regions, the original Lanxin track has a designed transport capacity of only about 75 million tonnes per year, which is far below the increasing demands of freight and passengers.

The new line, however, will unleash the region′s transportation capacity by handling most passenger travel and enabling the old line to focus on freight transport. The regional development and reform commission estimated that 150 million tonnes of freight will be shipped via the original Lanxin Railway each year.

The investment promotion center in Kashgar, China′s newest special economic zone, said the expanded volume of freight transport will be a huge boost for Xinjiang′s import and export trade to improve the region′s investment environment and attract more foreign and domestic investors.

According to Shenhua Group′s energy branch in Xinjiang, eastward shipping of the region′s abundant coal is expected to become cheaper and more efficient, which will strengthen Xinjiang′s position as a key land passage to national energy security.

Additionally, cities along the newly built railway in Xinjiang possess rich tourism resources. With the high-speed rail, the travel time between Urumqi and Hami, a city known for its fruit and landscapes, is shortened.

"It will take just 40 minutes for tourists who land in Urumqi to go to Turpan by high-speed train, and we are looking at a 30-percent increase to the current three million tourist arrivals per year," said Chen Shuguo, director of the tourism bureau in Turpan.

He Weigang, vice principal of the Communist Party school of Urumqi, said a convenient and efficient means of transportation has become a decisive prerequisite for Xinjiang as a bridgehead for the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

"The high-speed rail, by connecting Xinjiang with the rest of China and Eurasian countries, will play an important role in regional development and economic integration in the larger picture," he said.

Photo taken on Nov. 16, 2014 shows the CRH train running to Urumqi from Hami, northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The first high-speed rail in northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region became operational on Nov. 16, slashing travel time between the regional capital of Urumqi and the eastern city of Hami by half to three hours. The 530-km rail, with a designed speed of over 200 km per hour, is part of the 1,776-km Lanxin high-speed railway linking Urumqi with Lanzhou, capital of northwestern province of Gansu, which will be put into service by the end of this year.

The CRH train D8602 pulls out of Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi, capital of northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Nov. 16, 2014. The first high-speed rail in northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region became operational on Nov. 16, slashing travel time between the regional capital of Urumqi and the eastern city of Hami by half to three hours. The 530-km rail, with a designed speed of over 200 km per hour, is part of the 1,776-km Lanxin high-speed railway linking Urumqi with Lanzhou, capital of northwestern province of Gansu, which will be put into service by the end of this year.

Passengers get on the CRH train D8602 at Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi, capital of northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Nov. 16, 2014. The first high-speed rail in northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region became operational on Nov. 16, slashing travel time between the regional capital of Urumqi and the eastern city of Hami by half to three hours. The 530-km rail, with a designed speed of over 200 km per hour, is part of the 1,776-km Lanxin high-speed railway linking Urumqi with Lanzhou, capital of northwestern province of Gansu, which will be put into service by the end of this year.

Train conductor Dai Dan examines tickets on a CRH train in Urumqi, capital of northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Nov. 16, 2014. The first high-speed rail in northwest China′s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region became operational on Nov. 16, slashing travel time between the regional capital of Urumqi and the eastern city of Hami by half to three hours. The 530-km rail, with a designed speed of over 200 km per hour, is part of the 1,776-km Lanxin high-speed railway linking Urumqi with Lanzhou, capital of northwestern province of Gansu, which will be put into service by the end of this year.


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