CHINA: The 435 km Hongnao Railway in the Xinjiang region was formally opened to traffic on January 1.

Approved by the National Development & Reform Commission in 2014, the line is one of the longest in China to be developed using private investment.

Running from Naomaohu in the Hami district close to the Mongolian border to join the existing Lanzhou – Urumqi trunk line at Hongliuhe in the Turpan Basin, the line has been developed by the Hongnaosan Railway Co subsidiary of Xinjiang Guanghui Energy at a total cost of 10·8bn yuan.

The Hongnao Railway is intended to serve coal mines operated by Guanghui Energy, which owns 6·5 billion tonnes of coal reserves in the Naomaohu region. It has initially been designed to accommodate 5 000 tonne trains, and is expected to carry 39·5 million tonnes of coal per year. In the longer term, train sizes would be increased to 10 000 tonnes, boosting the annual capacity to around 150 million tonnes.

The following day saw the opening of the 215 km Zhunshuo Railway between Zhunge in Nei Mongol and Shuozhou in Shanxi province, 205 km of which is new construction. This single track coal line reportedly cost 12bn yuan to build and has been designed to handle up to 60 million tonnes per year. Construction has been backed by the Nei Mongol based Yitai Coal Co, which has invested in a number of dedicated coal lines over the past 15 years.