World’s first desert-circling railway brings vitality to Xinjiang

BEIJING, July 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A news report by on Xinjiang:


Amid an endless desert, a train runs along an elevated section of track as sand flies below. What a magnificent sight.

This scene is in China’s Xinjiang. Recently, an 825 km rail line from Hotan to Ruoqiang has entered operation. The new line links up with the Golmud-Korla and Southern Xinjiang rail lines, forming the world’s first desert rail loop line encircling the Taklamakan, the world’s second-largest shifting-sand desert.

Sitting in a speeding train, passengers can enjoy views of the vast dunes through the windows. The Niya Ruins, the ancient city of Andil, and various other cultural sites all stand along the route, offering unique vistas.

During the past three years building the Hotan-Ruoqiang rail line, construction workers crossed 460 km of uninhabited areas where there is no water, electricity or cellphone signal, braving quicksand, sandstorms, extreme heat and freezing temperatures. It is their painstaking efforts that have created this extraordinary engineering feat.

However, the railway line has much more significance.

Due to their natural conditions, many places along the route were not previously connected to the railway network, with locals having to cross the Tianshan Mountains if they wanted to go out of Xinjiang. High quality specialties such as cotton and dates, although produced in large quantities, were unable to reach the market due to poor transportation links. With a harsh ecological environment and weak economic foundation, four of the five counties where stations are located along the Hotan-Ruoqiang Railway used to be in severe poverty.

During the construction of the railway, priority was given to purchasing locally produced goods for workers, and impoverished residents were recruited to help boost their incomes. After the railway entered operation, two passenger trains have been arranged a day for the convenience of local people of all ethnic groups. Meanwhile, eight freight trains run daily transporting local specialties such as cotton, walnuts, red dates and minerals out of Xinjiang.

The railway, so to speak, has brought life to the desert.

Railways and highways are highlights of the wondrous Xinjiang. For example, the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway linking vast land and kaleidoscopic landscapes has enabled crude oil, cotton and other resources from Xinjiang to be delivered to other parts of the country. The Duku Highway, dubbed “China’s most beautiful road,” offering a wide range of scenery along its route, has accelerated the development of such resources as coal and timber. The opening and operation of ChinaEurope freight trains has also expanded Xinjiang’s foreign trade market.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, enormous human and material resources were invested to build overland routes connecting Xinjiang and the rest of the country. The more stunning and magnificent these roads and railways are, the more it means that they have broken through the bottlenecks hampering the survival and development prospects of local people.

The rail loop encircling the Taklamakan Desert has drawn what netizens call the “strongest closed loop on earth.” While transporting delicious fruits and rich resources in Southern Xinjiang, it also contributes to a picture of people of all ethnic groups living with satisfaction and dignity. With the railway, even more changes are in sight.

China Mosaic
World’s first desert-circling railway brings vitality to Xinjiang