GROWTH ON TRACK
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.