China’s $4.8bn high-altitude railway to Tibet “to finish before July”


Photo taken on Dec. 28, 2020 shows the construction site of track-laying

at a bridge of Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway

in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.


China will complete its seven-year project to build a high-altitude railway to the Tibet Autonomous Region before 1 July 2021, according to a statement released by China State Railway Group. Lu Dongfu, chairman of China State Railway Group, said the 435km link between Lhasa and Nyingchi in eastern Tibet would run Fuxing trainsets, powered by a mix of electricity and diesel. The line will be medium-speed, running at 160km/h, according to Tibet Railway Construction, the subsidiary of China State Railway Group that is building it. Fuxing trains operate at a speed range of 160 kp/h to 350 kp/h. The Xinhua news agency reported in December that track-laying work on the line had been completed at a cost of $4.8bn. The line has a total of 47 tunnels and 120 bridges. Construction started in 2014 on the railway connecting Lhasa, the regional capital, and Nyingchi in eastern Tibet. It is the first electrified railroad in Tibet and is slated to begin operations in June 2021.

So far, a total of 31.2 billion yuan (about 4.8 billion U.S. dollars) has been invested in the project, according to official data. With more than 90 percent of the railway built in areas more than 3,000 meters above sea level, the high altitude and complex geological conditions have posed great challenges to the project. Zhu Jintang, deputy general manager of Tibet Railway Construction Co., Ltd., said the constructors have stepped up scientific research to tackle key problems in tunnel construction such as high ground stress and extreme temperatures.

Zhu Jintang, deputy general manager of Tibet Railway Construction, said at the time that his company had obtained more than 30 patents on the line, which has to deal with the problems of extreme temperatures. He added that these would help with the larger project to build the Sichuan-Tibet Railway. At present, work is under way on the Ya’an–Nyingchi central section of this line. Lu, who is a deputy to the National People's Congress, was speaking on the sidelines of the “Two Sessions” meeting taking place in Beijing. He added that China aimed to extend the total length of high-speed operation to around 50,000km by 2025, compared with 37,900km at present. This will cover 98% of cities with over 500,000 residents.

Photo taken on Dec. 27, 2020 shows the construction site of track-laying at a tunnel of Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The track-laying work was completed on Thursday for a railway linking the cities of Lhasa and Nyingchi in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Chogo)


Placing the final Track panel in the presence of visiting Party Dignitaries

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