About the Qingzang railway
The Qingzang railway, Qinghai-CXizang railway, or Qinghai-CTibet railway, is a railway which connects Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, in the People's Republic of China.
This railway, set to be launched for trial operation on 1 July 2006, is the first to connect China proper with Tibet Autonomous Region, which due to its altitude and terrain is the last province-level entity in mainland China with no railways. Unmanned testing of the line and equipment has been made on May 1 2006. Direct trains are expected to run from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, establishing a straight connection between these major Chinese cities and Tibet.
The line includes the Tanggula Pass, which at 5,072 meters above sea level is the world's highest rail track.
The 1,338-meter Fenghuoshan tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world. It is 4,905 meters above sea level. The 3,345-meter Yangbajing No. 1 tunnel is the longest tunnel of the line. It is 4,264 meters above sea level and located 80 kilometres NW of the regional capital, Lhasa.
More than 960 km, or over 80% of the railway, is built at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters, and over half of it is laid on permafrost.
The 815 km section from Xining, Qinghai to Golmud, Qinghai opened to traffic in 1984. Construction of the remaining 1,080 km (670 mile) section from Golmud to Lhasa started on 29 June 2001. Though this section was finished in mid-October 2005, signalling work and track testing has required a further 6 to 12 months.
Rail-laying in Tibet was launched from both directions, towards Tanggula Mountain and Lhasa, from Anduo Railway Station on 22 June 2004. On 24 August 2005, track was laid at the railway's highest point, the Tanggula Pass, which is 5,072 metres above sea level.
Thirty railway stations are to be built, among them Tanggula Mountain railway station, which at 5,068 m will be the world's highest (C¨®ndor station, at 4,786 m, on the Rio Mulatos-Potos¨ª line, Bolivia, and La Galera at 4,781 m in Peru being the next highest).
Bombardier Transportation is to provide 361 high-altitude passenger carriages with special enriched-oxygen and UV-protection systems, to be delivered between December 2005 and May 2006. Of these, 53 will be luxury sleeper carriages for tourist service. When signalling and track testing is complete, trains travelling in the frozen earth areas are expected to attain maximum speeds of 100 kilometres per hour. On the non-frozen earth areas, speeds are expected to reach 120 kilometres per hour.
The construction of the railway is part of the China Western Development strategy, an attempt to develop the western provinces of China, which are much less developed than eastern China. When the line is opened in mid-2006, it will be possible to travel from Beijing to Lhasa in 50 hours, from Shanghai in 52 hours. The railway will later be extended to Zhangmu via Shigatse to the west, and Dali via Nyingchi to the east.