China will spend 120 billion yuan (US$17.6 billion) to build a second railway linking the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region with inland cities, according to information from a meeting of the Xinjiang committee of the Communist Party of China on Tuesday.
Construction is expected to begin next year, with investment from the central and local governments and other sources.
The new line will be parallel to the existing Lanxin Railway linking Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang. Only passenger trains will run on it.
When the new line is completed, the old Lanxin railway, running 1,892 kilometers, will be used by cargo trains only.
Xinjiang, a vast region in China's far west, boasts rich oil, coal and other resources and is the country's major cotton producer. Lanxin is currently the only railway linking Xinjiang and other parts of China.
Railway officials said the new rail line will break the bottleneck of transport for Xinjiang in its economic development, ease the pressure on the Euro-Asian continental bridge and facilitate exchanges between China and its west neighbors.
Another 100 billion yuan would be injected to improve Xinjiang's highway network between 2009 and 2013, according to information from the meeting.
(Xinhua News Agency November 25, 2008)