(ECNS) -- The Hotan-Ruoqiang Railway in northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region commenced operation on Thursday.
The railway, together with the existing Golmud-Korla railway and Southern Xinjiang railway, constitutes a 2,712-kilometer railway that loops around the Taklamakan Desert, which is the world's first desert railway loop line.
The 825-km railroad stretches eastward from Hotan City to Ruoqiang County along the southern edge of the Taklamakan, with 65% of its length inside the world's second-largest shifting-sand desert.
Around 50 million square meters of grass grids were placed, along with the plantation of 13 million seedlings to promote the anti-desertification program.
Viaducts were also constructed to enable safe passage where hazards associated with sandstorms are more likely.
With a designed operational speed of 120 kph, the rail enables travel time between Hotan and Ruoqiang to be about 11 hours and 26 minutes.
It will facilitate traveling and logistics of Xinjiang specialties, including cotton, walnuts, dates, and minerals.