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New Railways to Link Xinjiang with Central Asia

Construction will hopefully start this year on two railways linking China's westernmost Xinjiang with the central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, sources with the regional government of Xinjiang said.

The 6.2-billion-yuan (US$861 million) railway linking Korgas on the China-Kazakhstan border with China's inland railways, expected to be completed within this year, will extend westward to join the Sary-Ozek railway of Kazakhstan to become the second crossborder rail link between the two countries.

The new link will ease the burden of Alataw Pass, the largest land port in northwest China which handed five million tons of train-laden exports last year, up 60 percent from 2006, said sources attending an annual meeting on regional trade Saturday in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Meanwhile, preparatory work has begun on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway, which starts from Kashi (Kaxgar) in Xinjiang and extends through Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan.

Upon its completion in 2010, experts say the railway will provide a faster link between western China and central Asia and improve the southern passageway of the new Euroasia continental bridge.

Currently the only rail linking Xinjiang with central Asia is a 460-km line between Urumqi and Alataw Pass where it connects to Kazakhstan railways.

China and its central Asian neighbors have been carrying out feasibility studies to improve their railway network amid growing trade in recent years.

(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2008)

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