New 2,712 km (1,685 mi) railway loop line around China’s Taklimakan desert was inaugurated today.
The completion of the new rail line will enable trains to skirt a full circle around the desert for the first time ever.
The opening of the railroad brings an end to the unavailability of train service in five counties and certain towns in southern Xinjiang and shortens the travel time for locals.
The loop, a key national railway project, encircles China’s largest desert, and links major cities including Aksu, Kashgar, Hotan and Korla along its route.
The rail line runs through the southern edge of the Taklimakan Desert, and sandstorms in this region pose a serious threat to the railway. Therefore, anti-desertification programs were implemented simultaneously with railroad construction.
According to China Railway, five viaducts with a total length of 49.7 km elevate the railroad to protect it against sandstorms.
Also, a total of 50 million square meters of grass grids have been laid and 13 million trees have been planted.
The green barrier of shrubs and trees not only guarantees the safe passage of the trains but also helps improve the local ecological system.