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Camel train

China has built railways through towering mountains, above permafrosted soils and across choppy seas. But the completion of a railway around the edges of the Taklamakan Desert in western Xinjiang is further proof of its mastery of hostile terrain.

The final 825-kilometre stretch of the Taklamakan loop line opened on June 16 connecting the cities of Hotan and Ruoqiang on the southern fringes of the desert.

Two thirds of the new track runs through areas at risk of sand storms, says Chinese state media, requiring 50km of bridges that lift the line high above the dunes.


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