At 7:54 p.m. on Monday, a rumbling train full of tourists departed from Urumqi for the otherworldly scenic spot of Kanas in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The train, coded Y971, was the first "winter tour" train in Xinjiang this year. In recent years, winter entertainment facilities in the autonomous region have greatly improved, and local authorities are cashing in on the winter tourism business by launching the winter train tours.
This year, four such train routes have already been implemented, and the trains take tourists to northern and southern Xinjiang, including the counties of Wenquan, Kuqa and Burqin.
"Kanas is beautiful in summer, but it looks even more amazing in winter," said a tourist aboard train Y971. "It is my first time to take a train to tour Xinjiang in winter, and I have high hopes."
Hou Hanmin, with Xinjiang's tourism development commission, said the train tours will attract more visitors to experience activities such as hot springs and skiing.
Last year, there were almost 300 such trains in operation, five times that from 2016. About 400,000 tourists took trains to travel in Xinjiang during last winter season. So far, more than 1,440 trains have been in operation this year.