A high-speed rail line connecting Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, with the region’s Hami prefecture will begin running on November 16, Sina reports, citing the China Railway Corporation. The 710-kilometer line is part of the 1,770-kilometer Lanzhou-Xinjiang high-speed railway that will travel through Gansu province, Qinghai province and Xinjiang.
The trains will initially run at speed of about 200 kilometers per hour, reducing travel time between Urumqi and Hami from five hours to three hours.
A concept photo of the Urumqi High-Speed Railway Station.
The rest of the Lanzhou-Xinjiang railway will be ready to go into operation by the end of 2014, IBTimes reports.
However, the government has even bigger plans for Xinjiang and the country’s growing web of train lines. When the Xinjiang portion of the railway is completed, it will be able to connect to the country’s already existing train routes, even reaching the country’s biggest cities at unprecedented speeds. According to FarWest China, a Xinjiang-focused blog, traveling at speeds averaging 350 kilometers an hour, or roughly 220 mph, the new high-speed railway will allow travel from Urumqi to Beijing in just 12 hours and from Urumqi to Shanghai in fewer than 20, drastically cutting down travel time for journeys that can currently take 40 to 45 hours.
The Lanzhou-Xinjiang portion of the line required around 143 billion yuan in investments. When it becomes fully operational, it will take the crown as the world’s longest high-speed rail track.
“The high-speed railway will further improve travel conditions for all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. It will also facilitate the economic and social development in the autonomous region,” the CRC said in a statement.
In other HSR news, the Shanghai Railway Bureau announced this weekend that a new high-speed rail link between Shanghai and Changsha will be set to go into operation by the end of 2014. The section is part of the Shanghai-Kunming High-Speed Railway, which is expected to start running in 2017.
China is home to the world’s longest high-speed railway network—by the end of 2012, its tracks stretched over a distance of 10,000km. China aims have completed 25,000km of HSR track by the end of 2020.