A new 512-mile railway line in China unites two countries in a deadly desert

The Chinese government has announced that it has completed the construction of a key national railway project that stretches from the city of Hotan in Hotan Prefecture to Ruoqiang County in the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bayingolin and stretches for 512 miles (825 km), press release reveals.

The Hotan-Ruoqiang Railway is the last part of the Taklimakan Desert Railway, which is the world’s first railroad to bypass the desert. Construction began on Hotan-Ruoqiang Railway in 2018 and is expected to to be fully operational by June 2022

The Taklimakan Desert is the largest desert in China, and the railway line includes the Golmud-Korla Railway, the Kashgar-Hotan Railway, and other southern railways in Xinjiang. According to Yang Baorong, chief designer of the Hotan-Ruoqiang railway, “this railway runs through the southern end of the Taklimakan Desert. Sandstorms pose a serious threat to railway construction and operation because the tracks can be blocked.”

New railway construction and the fight against desertification go hand in hand

Due to the problem of sandstorms, programs to combat desertification were launched simultaneously with the construction of the line. The construction project planted 13 million seedlings and installed approximately 50 million square meters of grass gratings next to the tracks. Viaducts have also been built to ensure the safe passage of places known for heavy sandstorms.

The new line was built to reduce travel time and accelerate the economic development of the regions it connects. Earlier this month, a report from Railway technology explained that China aims to invest approximately $ 154.88 billion in expanding the railway network in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) between 2021-2025. The investment will expand the region’s railways by approximately 13,670 miles (22,000 km).

As early as 2014, China announced a large-scale 8,077 miles (13,000 km) of US-China railway, which would cost $ 200 billion to build. The project will see a high-speed rail line stretch northeast of Beijing before leaving for 8,077 miles (13,000 km) through Siberia and then a journey of 124 miles (200 km) underwater, crossing the Bering Strait to Alaska. This project seems to be at a standstill, although it can it is still in the background as China seeks to significantly expand its railway network and stimulate its economy.

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