Challenging times on 'high-speed Silk Road'

Updated: 2013-07-12 07:38

By Cui Jia (China Daily)

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Journey times slashed

More than 95 percent of Xinjiang's freight traffic is carried on the old Lanzhou-Urumqi railway. Meanwhile, the high cost of air travel means the railway is also the primary mode of travel for 90 percent of passengers traveling in and around the autonomous region. However, the strain imposed on the local travel network means logistics costs are high, a factor that has limited the pace of the region's development, according to the Urumqi Railway Bureau, which is overseeing the construction and management of the new high-speed railway.

Challenging times on 'high-speed Silk Road'

Construction teams work at night to avoid the intense daytime heat that causes the water in the concrete mix to evaporate too rapidly.

With a designed speed of 250 km per hour, the Lanzhou-Urumqi high-speed railway will provide a faster and more convenient route between the provincial and regional capitals. When the railway is finished, the journey time between the cities will be cut by half - from around 20 hours to less than 10. The high-speed railway will carry all passenger traffic, while the old Lanzhou-Urumqi railway will be used for freight only.

The bureau said construction of a railway to connect Hami prefecture with the Inner Mongolia autonomous region may begin by the end of the year, forging another link between Xinjiang and China's inland regions. Meanwhile, a railway linking southern Xinjiang's Hotan and Xigaze in the Tibet autonomous region is also under consideration.