First seg­ment of Da­tong-Xi’an rail to open July 1

New trans­porta­tion artery puts cul­tural venues within eas­ier reach

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By MA LIE in Xi’an and CHENG HONG in Taiyuan Con­tact the writer at malie@ chi­ and chenghong@chi­ cn

Tourists in Shaanxi and Shanxi prov­inces are set to en­joy a con­ve­nient new way to travel to 10 cities.

While the Da­tong- Xi’an high- speed rail­way link­ing Xi’an, cap­i­tal of Shaanxi prov­ince, and Da­tong, a north­ern city in Shanxi prov­ince, is cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion, 567 kilo­me­ters of track be­tween Xi’an and Taiyuan, cap­i­tal of Shanxi prov­ince, will be put into oper­a­tion on July 1, China Daily learned on Fri­day from the Xi’an Rail­way Bureau.

The sec­tion from Taiyuan to Da­tong is ex­pected to be opened next June.

The rail­way, con­struc­tion of which be­gan in De­cem­ber 2009, is a key part of China’s long- term rail­way net­work plan. With a to­tal length of 859 km from Xi’an to Da­tong, trav­el­ing times be­tween the two cities will be cut from 16 hours to four.

Chen Shaoqing, an of­fi­cial in the in­dus­try man­age­ment depart­ment of the Shanxi provin­cial tourism bureau, said the Da-Xi line will be a great

We be­lieve the newly opened rail line will be­come a driv­ing force to pro­mote the growth of tourism.” CHEN SHAOQING AN OF­FI­CIAL WITH THE SHANXI PROVIN­CIAL TOURISM BUREAU

way for people to visit the many at­trac­tions in Shanxi and Shaanxi prov­inces, in­clud­ing the Yun­gang grot­toes, Pingyao an­cient city and Qin ter­ra­cotta war­riors and horses, all listed as UNESCO World Her­itage sites.

Lo­cated 16 km south­west of Da­tong, the Yun­gang Grot­toes are the largest and most fa­mous an­cient Bud­dhist caves in China, with 252 caves and more than 51,000 Buddha stat­ues. Tak­ing 60 years to com­plete the ex­quis­ite stone carvings, the caves were con­structed dur­ing the North­ern Wei Dy­nasty (AD 386-534).

The Qin ter­ra­cotta war­riors and horses, cited as an “Eighth Won­der of the World” and listed by UNESCO in 1987, are lo­cated next to the Mau­soleum of Em­peror Qin Shi Huang, the first em­peror of the Qin Dy­nasty ( 221- 206 BC), and at­tract mil­lions of vis­i­tors ev­ery year.

The Pingyao an­cient city in Jinzhong, Shanxi prov­ince, has a his­tory of more than 2,700 years. It is the best pre­served county town to present the cul­ture of the Ming (13681644) and Qing (1644-1911) dy­nas­ties.

The route also in­cludes at­trac­tions like the 1,400-yearold Hang­ing Tem­ple em­bed­ded hor­i­zon­tally 60 me­ters off Mount Heng and the Wooden Pagoda in Yingx­ian, the old­est, tallest wooden struc­ture in China, dat­ing back to the 11th century. Jinci Tem­ple in Taiyuan, famed for the 43 sculp­tures in its Holy Mother Hall, is also a must to visit.

“We be­lieve the newly opened rail line will be­come a driv­ing force to pro­mote the growth of tourism in Shanxi and Shaanxi prov­inces,” Chen said.

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