China Plans Extensions To World’s Highest Railway

China has revealed plans to make its rugged western frontier more accessible via its burgeoning rail network. The country will add several railway lines to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, 7 years after it went into operation and became the world’s highest railway line.


Spanning 1,956 kilometers between Xining and Lhasa, the line carried 10.76 million people and 56.06 million tonnes of cargo in 2012. Under the country’s 12th Five Year Plan, it will branch out in all directions, increasing passenger and cargo capacity to 14 million people and 90 tonnes of freight in 2015.


The first extension will be a 253-kilometer line linking Lhasa to Xigaze, a historical city in southwest Tibet, while a branch to Nyingchi is being considered. On the other end of the railway, 2 extensions will run from the city of Golmud to Dunhuang in Gansu Province and Korla in the Xinjiang autonomous region. The former joins existing railways that link Xinjiang with Qinghai and Gansu provinces, forming a circular railway network upon completion, while the latter reduces the journey between Lhasa and Urumqi by more than 1,000 kilometers.


Authorities are also proposing 2 more lines to link the region with Chengdu, in a bid to boost commerce and accessibility.


Designed and constructed with ecological considerations, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway features 33 special passageways for rare animals, including the critically-endangered Tibetan antelope. It also bypasses celestial burial grounds and lamaseries in deference to local customs and the protection of religious sites.


For more information, visit (in Mandarin only).


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