Work to start on rail link with Iran

Updated: 2016-01-15 08:00

By Cui Jia in Urumqi(China Daily)

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The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region plans to start preliminary work on a railway linking China with Iran via Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan within five years.

The railway is expected to run from Xinjiang's Kashgar to Afghanistan's Herat, then go through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and finally connect with the Iranian railway.

Conducting preliminary work on the railway has been listed in the draft of the region's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) that is likely to be passed by the regional people's congress on Saturday.

The central government positioned Xinjiang as the core region on the Silk Road Economic Belt, which was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 and aims to revive the trade route that once connected China with Europe via Central Asian countries.

Representatives of transport ministries and railway departments from the five countries signed a document on the railway in a meeting in December 2014, Xinhua News Agency reported.

To better construct transportation corridors on the southern part of the economic belt, Xinjiang also began preliminary work on the China-Pakistan railway and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, the draft said. Both railways will start at southern Xinjiang's Kashgar, which borders Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Kyrgyzstan and China have been discussing for many years the possibility of constructing a China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway.

Xinjiang will also launch more flights connecting Central Asia, Western Asia and Europe. With 17 airports, Xinjiang currently has more airports than any other province or region. By 2020, the number of airports in the region will reach 28.

Because of its strategic location, the region will build four more gas pipelines connecting eastern parts of China, one of which will transport Russian natural gas to China.

The coal-rich region will continue to support China's development by transmitting electricity generated by thermal plants to other parts of the country via high-voltage power lines. By 2020, 30 million kW of electricity will be transmitted out of Xinjiang.

(China Daily 01/15/2016 page5)