China Daily (Canada) - - XINJIANG -

The newhigh-speed rail in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion is ex­pected to form a piv­otal part of a long-term, cross­con­ti­nent link to Euro­pean coun­tries to boost trade ties.

High-speed rail con­nect­ing north­ern Europe vi­aRus­sia and south­ern Europe vi­aKyr­gyzs­tan and Turkey, sim­i­lar to the an­cient SilkRoad, is be­ing planned, with Xin­jiang serv­ing as the link to in­land China, Beijing Jiao­tong Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Wang Meng­shu said.

“China’s high-speed rail tech­nol­ogy in terms of con­struc­tion and pro­duc­tion are ma­ture. The key chal­lenge lies in ne­go­ti­a­tions with our neigh­bors. So far, that has been­mov­ing along­well,” Wang said.

The new Lanzhou-Xin­jiang high-speed rail­way is de­signed to run both pas­sen­ger and cargo trains, which can be hugely sig­nif­i­cant for freight , Wang said.

Once the newhigh­speed rail­way trains roll out as planned, the old Lanzhou-Xin­jiang rail­way will be re­served for trans­port­ing cargo.

Trans­porta­tion ca­pac­ity will reach 150 mil­lion metric tons a year in the ini­tial pe­riod and sub­se­quently sur­pass 400 mil­lion tons with the heavy-duty trains, saidMaLiangyuan, an of­fi­cial of the trans­porta­tion depart­ment un­der the Xin­jiangDevel­op­ment and Re­for­mCom­mit­tee.

But con­tainer trans­porta­tion fa­cil­i­ties on the old Lanzhou-Xin­jiang rail­way have not been able to meet for­eign trade de­mand with Europe via Xin­jiang’s ports, Wang said.

“Cargo trans­porta­tion must be ac­cel­er­ated. The next step is to boost the link.”

With the high-speed net­work planned for Xin­jiang, its re­gional cap­i­tal, Urumqi, will also be­come the hub of an area cov­er­ing ci­ties that can be reached in an hour. Sim­i­lar hubs likeKara­may and Kuerle can be formed in the re­gion’s north and south, where sur­round­ing ci­ties can also be ac­cessed eas­ily, Wang said.

The­move will cer­tainly boost de­vel­op­ment, es­pe­cially tourism, in such a large re­gion, Wang said.

The cur­rent speed of the newhigh-speed rail­way is 200 kilo­me­ters per hour, be­low­its de­signed 250 km/h top speed. That means that trans­port ca­pac­ity for both pas­sen­ger and cargo has a lot of space to grow, Wang said.

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