China will spend 120 billion yuan (US$17.6 billion) to build a second railway traversing the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to information from a meeting of the Xinjiang committee of the Communist Party of China on Tuesday.
Construction is expected to begin next year, with investment from the central and local governments and other sources.
The passenger line will go through Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang. It will facilitate the transport of agricultural products and minerals, mainly coal, out of Xinjiang, by relieving congestion on the existing line.
When the line is completed, the existing 1,892-km line from Lanzhou (Gansu's capital) to Xinjiang will be used for cargo only.
The land resources department of Xinjiang announced last week a huge coalfield with a reserve of 23 billion tonnes was discovered in the region.
The field, about 800 meters underground, covers more than 300 sq km in Shanshan County in the Turpan Basin.
Xinjiang has 40.5 percent of China's coal reserves. With an annual production of 50 million tonnes, it is the country's second-largest coal producer after the northern province of Shanxi.
(Xinhua News Agency November 25, 2008)