BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The train journey between capital cities of ethnic Tibet and Xinjiang regions would be greatly cut short by a new railway line, a high-ranking official said Sunday.
During China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period, authorities would build a railway line between Golmud in northwestern Qinghai Province and Korla in Xinjiang, said Luo Yulin, vice governor of Qinghai, while attending the annual parliamentary session in Beijing.
Golmud is a major city on the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which connects Tibet regional capital of Lhasa with Qinghai provincial capital of Xining.
The new Golmud-Korla project will be the first direct rail link between Xinjiang the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
As there is already a railway line between Korla and Xinjiang's regional capital of Urumqi, the new line will offer a shorter rail link between Lhasa and Urumqi.
"The new line will cut the train journey between the two capital cities by more than 1,000 km," Luo said.
Currently, railway travelers from Urumqi to Lhasa have to take trains to Lanzhou in Gansu Province first before they reach Xining on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Lhasa at last. The total mileage stands at about 4,000 km.
"The new railway line will play a significant role in boosting the economic development in the country's western regions and promoting exchanges among different ethnic groups," he said.
Construction on the Golmud-Korla railway would start this year and it would be put into use within the 2011-2015 period, he added.
Actually, local authorities are building Golmud and Xining into a railway transport network in the country's vast western regions.
In the coming five years, two other railway lines would be built between Golmud and Dunhuang in Gansu Province, and between Golmud and Chengdu in Sichuan Province, Luo said.
Local authorities are also considering the construction of two more railways linking Xining with Chengdu, and Xining with Kunming in Yunnan Province, he added.