China's state news agency Xinhua reports that the Yuan 37bn ($US 6bn) line from Korla in southern Xinjiang to Golmud in Qinghai will take around five years to complete.

Commercial services began on November 16 on the first section of high-speed line in Xinjiang, which links the regional capital Urumqi with Hami. The remainder of the 1776km line to Lanzhou is due to open by the end of the year.

Construction also began in June on a conventional railway linking Hami with Ejina in Inner Mongolia.