Welcome aboard Xinjiang’s new high speed railway! Now I know this isn’t the first high-speed railway in China, but it’s the first high-speed train I’ve ever ridden so I’m quite excited about it. In mid-October 2014, the first half of what is known as the Lan-Xin Gao Tie was opened here in Xinjiang. Construction had begun in January of 2010 and eventually it’s going to link Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region to Lanzhou in Gansu. For now, it’s just running between Urumqi and Hami, which is where I’m headed today. This is a trip that used to take about 8 hours by bus. Today, I’m about to do it in three. Compared with the old trains, which by the way will still be running as an option for a while, these high speed trains are quite comfortable.
It’s divided into first class and second class cars with comfortable seating in both and a single dining car. When fully operational, the train will run from Urumqi Xinjiang, through Qinghai and end in Lanzhou for a total of an approximately 8 hour trip. There are 10 stops along the way which include great tourist spots like Turpan, which is now only 1 hour from Urumqi and Dunhuang, home of the great Mogao grottoes. You know, despite the serious technical challenges of building a high speed railway through the Xinjiang and Gansu deserts with all the wind and the dust, we’re still traveling at over 200km/h, which is so much faster than the old trains we’re used to. It’s been a long time in the making but this high-speed railway is a welcome addition for those wanting to explore even more of what Xinjiang has to offer..