At 9:05 p.m. on July 1, with a long whistle from the electric-engine, the first train from Urumqi to Yili slowly left Urumqi South Railway Station, officially opening Xinjiang's first electric railway, the Jinghe-Yining-Khorgos Electric Railway. Since then, people can commute between the Yili River Valley and Urumqi by train in a single day, and the Yili River Valley has finally been opened to passages trains.
This train realized a long-held dream of the people of the Yili River Valley region to be able to travel by train. The Jinghe-Yining-Khorgos Electric Railway is the first electric railway in Xinjiang, and this train is the first passenger train on this line.
At 9:05 p.m. on July 1, the first train from Urumqi to Yili slowly left Urumqi South Railway Station.(photo:tianshannet)
Since boarding train No. 5815, passengers found it hard to conceal their excitement. Haisar, a businessman who travels back and forth between Urumqi and Yili doing business with foreign trade, told reporters that now he can take train to Yili, which has helped make his travel more convenient. "Arriving at my destination in a single day not only saves me time, but I can have a good rest on the train. Moreover, the price of tickets is reasonable. So I certainly will take the train to commute between the two places in the future," said Haisar. Other passengers also said that the opening to traffic between Urumqi and Yili also meets their needs in areas such as public service, business, travel and leisure, as well as the weekend activities.
Train No. 5815 or 5816 has a total of 19 carriages, including two for soft sleepers, 10 for hard sleepers and four for hard seats. Each carriage is adorned with the slogan "welcome to train No. 5815 or 5816" as well as with colored paper garlands. Reporters saw in the hard seat carriage No. 2 that the seats were filled with passengers and many others who bought standing room tickets were standing in the aisle. As the train left the station, everyone looked very excited.
Liu Haizhou, a passenger, took a regular bus from Yili to Urumqi in May of this year. After more than one month however, he can go home by train. He said, "In the past, people could only take the long distance bus to commute between Urumqi and Yili and the rugged sections such as in Guozigou often made passengers very tired. Moreover, the carriages are hot in summer and cold in winter. But now in the smooth running, air-conditioned train, in which passengers are cool in the summer and warm in the winter, allows them to enjoy their long distance journeys very much."
A 64-year-old man from the Xibe nationality lives in Urumqi all-year-round and had not returned to his hometown, Chabuchar Sibo Autonomous County in Yili, for nearly 30 years. "Because of poor health, I have not been able to visit my hometown. But now since the safe and comfortable train has been opened, I must take the first train to visit my hometown," he said. The opening of the passenger train not only facilitates travel for the people of Yili but also shortens the distance between people in southern Xinjiang. Nearly 70-year-old Ahmat Jiang has been living in Hetan Prefecture. He told reporters that he toured Yili four or five years ago, "At that time, the road was bad and we had to sit on the bumpy, long distance bus for a long time. But now it is safe and convenient." Taking the first train, Ahmat Jiang will visit relatives in Yili with his wife.
Late that night, passengers in the sleeper carriages had fallen asleep while many other passengers in the hard seat carriages were still excited and sleepless. A Uygur student from the Urumqi Modern Vocational Technology College, who was working on a cross-stitch embroidery, attracted the attention of many passengers. She said, "I would not be able to do it if I was taking the long distance bus!"
After running for 11 hours and 30 minutes and passing through Urumqi, Uzzi, Shihezi, Shawan County, Kuitun, Jinghe, southern Jinghe, Nilka, Buliekai and eastern Yining stations, the first train finally arrived at Yining station at 8:35 a.m. on July 2.
The chief conductor Zhao Wenbiao was very pleased about the arrival of the train. Watching passengers leaving the station with their luggage, he said, "Yili has finally been opened to passenger traffic after many years of expectation and I feel very lucky to have become one of the chief conductors."