China already possesses the largest and longest high-speed rail network in the world. Its total length is 6,200 miles, making it longer than that of all of Europe’s put together. Demand seems to be no issue, these high-speed trains transporting almost 2 million people a day (a third of total number of rail passengers). This system (gaoti in Chinese) has focused on laying tracks in the densely populated eastern side of China, a line from Beijing to Shenzhen linking 28 cities in multiple provinces. Since 2009, tracks have been being laid to connect as far as Xinjiang (an area that we recall is attracting industry).
Interestingly, plans include building the tracks through the Tibetan plateau, which will require it to run in less populated areas, as well as necessitate large scale construction of the train line at high altitudes due to the terrain (which will mean these bullet trains will travel higher than any other in the world). Despite these avoidable and less than ideal factors, it is reported that the government has chosen this route as a political move to promote harmony with the ethnic groups in the area, as well as to reach out to Tibetans (although the region the train will run through is not near Tibet, it is considered historically Tibetan territory).
These rail track extensions are particularly welcomed by the Qinghai province as an excuse for heavy spending for “business parks and apartment blocks around lavish new railway stations). The new tracks will also provide easier transport for tourists coming to see the yellow fields of rape blossoms located near Menyuan, which will have a new station with this plan. Xinjiang hopes to benefit most from the new line, as passengers will be able to travel through the bullet trains, rather than the old rail line which can be dedicated to freight to transport coal at greater quantities.