China will construct two railways linking the western Xinjiang region with the central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, sources with the regional government of Xinjiang said.
The 6.2 billion yuan ($861 million) railway, linking Korgas on the China-Kazakhstan border with China's inland railways, would be completed this year. It will further extend westward to join the Sary-Ozek railway of Kazakhstan, making it the second cross-border rail link between the two countries.
The new link will ease the burden of Alataw Pass, the largest land port in northwest China, which handled five million tonnes of train-laden exports last year, up by 60 per cent from 2006, sources attending the annual meeting on regional trade in Urumqi said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, preparatory work has begun on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway. The railway starts from Kashi (Kaxgar) in Xinjiang and extends through Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan.
After its completion in 2010, experts said the railway would provide a faster link between western China and central Asia and improve the southern passageway of the new Euro-Asia continental bridge.
Currently, the only railway linking Xinjiang with central Asia is a 460 km line between Urumqi and Alataw Pass, where it connects to Kazakhstan railways.
China and its central Asian neighbours have been carrying out feasibility studies to improve their railway network amid growing trade in recent years.