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New south Xinjiang railway makes foray into China’s largest desert

A new railway passing through the southern region of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has made a foray into the country’s largest desert as transport construction picked up pace after effective containment of COVID-19 cases locally.

Workers on Monday started laying tracks on a section of the Hotan-Ruoqiang Railway in Qiemo County of the Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, a county located in the southern rim of the Taklimakan Desert.

Sand-proof tarpaulins are being used to shield major parts of construction vehicles from sandstorms, according to Zhang Gang, a project manager with China Railway 14th Bureau Group Co., Ltd., who oversees the construction.

The railway spans more than 825 km, with a designed speed of 120 km per hour. After completion, it will form a part of the third major transportation line connecting the east and west of Xinjiang.

The completion of the railway will usher in a new era for five counties situated along the line that never had any rail connectivity. “It’s a historic moment for us as the railway is expected to accelerate the growth of the local economy,” said Xu Kai, a top official of Qiemo County.

The railway project has boosted local employment as well. Over 4,100 jobs have been created for locals along the line so far, according to Tian Jianjun, general manager with the Xinjiang Hotan-Ruoqiang Railway Co., Ltd.

Xinjiang has been heavily investing in railway development in a bid to create a more extensive transport network. The Golmud-Korla railway, which connects with the Hotan-Ruoqiang Railway at Ruoqiang station, has completed laying of tracks and is expected to start operation within the year.

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