In pics: desert express in Xinjiang

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-09 15:06:42|Editor: pengying
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Passengers play cards at Kashgar Railway Station in Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Nov. 23, 2017. The 485-km train route linking two major oasis towns Kashgar and Hotan, runs through some of the remotest areas in Xinjiang, and has transformed life in the desert since its launch in 2011. It is the first and only railway in Hotan, via the railway the underdeveloped prefecture is linked to the rest of the country's rail network, which boasts 22,000 km of high-speed railway lines. Poor transport infrastructure has caused China's west to lag behind eastern regions in terms of economic competitiveness. Building more railways has become a necessity for the country's western region to expand growth and social development along the Silk Road. There was only one train per day when the passenger service was launched in June, 2011. Another train was added in 2016 to better meet local demand. In each trip some 1,000 passengers can board the 19-carriage train to cross the desert. The seven-hour ride costs only 28 yuan (4.2 U.S. dollars), one of the cheapest passenger train services in the country. Traveling used to be vexing in Hotan, where sand and dust storms dominate weather about 200 days of the year. "My clothes were a mess when I used to travel on donkey back or by car," says Seydiehmet Kichik, from Hotan, "Now the train brings me to more job opportunities outside." Working as a cotton picker in Aksu Prefecture, about 600 km from his hometown, Seydiehmet can earn 12,000 yuan in a three-month harvest season, more than his entire income for the previous year. The railway has shortened the distance between local people and their ideal schools and jobs. 15 million trips were made during the past six years, according to local railway authorities. (Xinhua/Zhao Ge)

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KEY WORDS: Xinjiang