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Home >> Tibet Travel Guide >> The Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway On October 15, 2005, the entire the Qinghai-Tibet Railway line was basically completed, ending Tibet¡¯s isolation from the national rail network. The 1,956-km railway link begins in Xining, capital of Qinghai Province and goes to Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. This includes the first-phase project--the 814 km-long stretch from Xining to Golmud that began operations in 1984 and the second-phase project--the 1,142-km stretch between Golmud and Lhasa running south along Nachitai, Wudaolaing, Tutu River and then crossing Tanggula Mountain into the Tibet Autonomous Region, and then passing through Amdo, Nagqu, Damxung and Yangbajain to Lhasa City (including 1,110 km of line newly constructed and an original stretch of 32 km that was rebuilt). There are all together 681 bridges and 1,988 culverts whose length accounts for eight percent of the total length; 34 stations are established along the railway and the designed speed of the trains reaches 140 km/hour.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the plateau railway with the highest altitude and the longest line in the world. Crossing Tanggula Mountain, the highest point on the line is 5,072 meters above sea level. The railway covers 960-km at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters and over 550 km within the "frozen earth" [permafrost] area, along with difficult marshland and wetland areas. The protection of the fragile ecosystem, the lack of oxygen at high-altitude and the perennial frozen ground were three of the serious challenges met in the construction of the line and the need to develop unique, advanced technology made it a most onerous project. However, through many years of research and examination, Chinese scientists made sufficient demonstrations and preparations to break through all the operational technical ¡°hard nuts¡± providing a reliable scientific and technical guarantee for the construction of the line. At present, according to survey by the construction supervision department, the acceptance rate of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is 100 percent, the superior rate reaches over 91.8 percent, and all the construction is in accordance with the design requirements and the quality of the project is also up to superior standard.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway Trial operation of the railway on July 1, 2006 turned out to be a great success. The railway will go into formal operation on July 1, 2007. China¡¯s railway department has approved four services: Beijing-Lhasa, Chengdu (Chongqing)-Lhasa, Xining (Lanzhou)-Lhasa and Shanghai (Guangzhou)-Lhasa. Of the four, only the Shanghai (Guangzhou)-Lhasa train operates every two days, and all the others operate on the daily basis. By August 14, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway transported a total of 200,000 passengers in 45 days. And people visiting Tibet will increase by 400,000 over that in 2005. The railway is also a boon for goods transport business. The monthly handling capacity is expected to reach 150,000 tons. Thus far, goods shipped into Tibet are mainly food grains, articles for daily use, coal, cement and buildinig materials; and goods transported out of Tibet include mainly native produce.

The State plans also to build Gansu-Tibet, Yunnan-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet Railways.

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