Note this is not the first connection of its kind. Indeed, it has been going on since early in the last century. The reason why the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong was built in that slightly odd position at the tip of Kowloon was because it was near the rail station. And passengers who had traveled from Europe by rail were a main source of customers.
Last year, the government spent RMB330 billion ($48 billion) on railway investment, and has plans to nearly double that figure in 2009 by spending RMB600 billion ($88billion). Of that total, $17.6 billion will be spent on railway development in Xinjiang alone and will complement recent projects, funded by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, aimed at improving transport networks in the region.
The development of a rail link has at least the potential to shift the axis of China’s external trade away from Eastern ports. The current unrest in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, may affect plans for it to become a logistics hub to handle increased trade flows and a key stop on the Chongqing to Rotterdam rail route.