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The project to quicken train speed on the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway, one of the major projects in China’s third drive to upgrade train speed, is expected to be completed by October 1, 2000. The Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway, which extends more 2,000 kilometers from Lanzhou City in Gansu Province in the east to the Alataw Pass, the westernmost point on the Chinese section of the second Eurasian Bridge, is an artery linking China’s west and east and the only railroad leading from Xinjiang to the rest of China. The dual-track route of the Lanzhou-Urumqi Railroad has been open to traffic. Construction of the Korla-Kashi section of the Southern Xinjiang Railroad, also a major project, is in full swing. An investment of 2.4 billion yuan has been completed in the westward extension project of the Southern Xinjiang Railroad. On December 29, 1998, tracks were laid to Xiggar. A total of 826.9 kilometers of tracks were laid, 101 kilometers more than that in the annual plan. On December 1, 1998, the Korla-Aksu section was put into trial operation. In 1998, the Urumqi Railway Bureau transported 29.142 million tons of freight, increasing 3.9 percent over that in the previous year.
Highways now reach 99 percent towns and villages in all counties and prefectures. A road-transportation network comprising seven national highways and 62 regional main highways links Urumqi with Gansu and QingHai provinces in the east, the Tibet Autonomous Region in the south, and Central Asian counties in the west. In 1998, the length of major highways open to traffic reached 32,701 kilometers.
Seasonal steamers and barges can sail on the Ili and Ertix rivers.
Xinjiang leads China’s other provinces and autonomous regions in the number of airports and the length of civil aviation routes. The Urumqi International Airport, one of China’s six major airports, has flights to West Asian and European countries. Air routes lead from Urumqi to Lanzhou, Xi’an, Beijing, Shanghai as well as Xinjiang’s Hami, Korla, Kuqa, Hetan, Kashi, Aksu, Yining, Karamay, Fuyun, and Altay. The Urumqi International Airport now is under expansion. In 1998, the Xinjiang Airline Company shipped a freight volume of 298.7734 million tons/kilometers, a passenger volume of 1,340,600 people/times, and a mail volume of 26,862.4 tons.