The trial run for the first high-speed railway in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region started on Tuesday, marking a countdown to formal operations by the end of the year. The train links Urumqi and Lanzhou City in northwestern Gansu Province.
The 1,776-km line crosses a vast expanse of the Gobi Desert and windy areas and will be Xinjiang's first high-speed railway when it begins operation by the end of 2014. With the new railway, travel time between Lanzhou and Urumqi will be cut from the current 21 hours to 8 hours or less.
Since the railway passes four major windy areas in China, a 462-km wind shield was built to prevent any damage caused by gales. The Lanxin Railway is currently the only railway connecting Xinjiang with other provincial regions. The new line takes a slightly different route, winding into neighboring Qinghai Province before re-entering Gansu and picking up the old route that heads northwest toward Xinjiang.