China's third drive to upgrade train speeds across the nation is currently in hand. Work on the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway represents one of the major projects in pursuit of this aim. Construction is progressing smoothly with completion anticipated by October 1, 2004.
The Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway runs more than 2,000 kilometers from Lanzhou City in Gansu Province in the east to Alataw Pass, the westernmost point of the Chinese section of the second Eurasian Link. It is a principal artery linking China's east and west and is the only railroad running between Xinjiang and the rest of China.
A dual-track section of the Lanzhou-Urumqi railroad is already operational and construction of the Korla-Kashi section of the Southern Xinjiang Railroad, also a major project, is in full swing. Works to the value of 2.4 billion yuan have been completed in the westward extension of the Southern Xinjiang railroad and the northern section of Wusu-Ala Pass railway.
Highways have now been extended to all counties and prefectures together with 99 percent of towns and villages.
A road-transportation network comprising seven national highways and 62 regional trunk highways links Urumqi at its hub with Gansu and Qinghai provinces in the east, the Tibet Autonomous Region in the south and the Central Asian countries in the west.
At the end of 2003, there were 59,900 kilometers of highway (up just 0.7 percent). However freight volumes were up 9.1 percent at 32.5 billion ton-kilometers with passenger transport up 5.0 percent at 19.5 billion person-kilometers.
Steamers and barges operate seasonal services on the Ili and Ertix rivers.
Xinjiang boasts the greatest number of airports and the longest air routes of all the provinces and autonomous regions of China.
Urumqi International Airport is one of China's six major airports with flights to West Asian and European countries.
Centered on Urumqi, domestic air routes radiate out to Lanzhou, Xi'an, Beijing and Shanghai. Closer to home, routes within Xinjiang itself serve Hami, Korla, Kuqa, Hetian, Kashi, Aksu, Yining, Karamay, Fuyun, and Altay.
Reconstruction and expansion is currently underway at Urumqi International Airport. At the end of 2003, its civil aviation routes totaled 116,000 kilometers (down 12.1 percent). Freight volumes were down 22 percent at 64 million ton-kilometers with passenger transport up 4.3 percent at 4.09 billion person-kilometers.