New railways to further link Xinjiang to Central Asia
Jan. 28 – Construction will hopefully start this year on two railways linking China’s westernmost Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region with the central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, Xinjiang government sources said.
The railway, expected to be completed within the year, will link Korgas on the China-Kazakhstan border with China’s inland railways. From the border, the US$861 million railway will extend west, joining the Sary-Ozek railway of Kazakhstan to become the second cross-border rail link between the two countries.
According to Xinhua, the new link will ease the burden of Alataw Pass, the largest land port in Northwest China which handed 5 million tons of train-laden exports last year, up 60 percent from 2006.
Preparatory work has also begun on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway, which will start from Kashgar in Xinjiang and extend through Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan.
Upon its completion in 2010, the railway should a faster link between western China and central Asia. Currently the only railroad linking Xinjiang with central Asia is a 460-km line between Urumqi and Kazakhstan through Alataw Pass.
China and its central Asian neighbors have been carrying out feasibility studies to improve their railway network amid growing trade in recent years.
For more information about China and Central Asia, check out China Briefing’s China’s Borders series which examines the growing strategic and economic relationships between China and its neighbors.