Friday, March 8, 2013

China to finish Tibet rail line close to Indian border soon

Last Updated: Friday, March 08, 2013,
Beijing: China will finish its rail network in Tibet up to Xigaze city located close to Indian border by next year, allowing its military to move men and material with relative ease besides beefing up transportation in the strategically important Himalayan region.
The extension line of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to link provincial capital Lhasa to Xigaze,(Shigaste), second largest city in Tibet is expected to be completed by next year, Chairman of the Tibet regional government Losang Jamcan said.

"Hopefully, the Lhasa-Xigaze rail line will be completed at the end of this year or the beginning of 2014," Jamcan said in a group discussion of the government work report at the annual session of the China's parliament here on Friday.

He said the completion of the project would facilitate the development of an ecological tourism zone that covers Lhasa, Xigaze and Nyingchi cities.

Xigaze and Nyingchi are the Tibetan city located closest to Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. Xigaze City is the administrative centre of the Tibetan prefecture of the same name, a 182,000 square km area that borders India, Nepal and Bhutan.

It is also famous for Qomolangma (Mount Everest in the West), which rises up from within it.

China began the construction of the 253-km line from Tibet's capital Lhasa to Xigaze in September 2010.

China has extensively developed road rail and air infrastructure in Tibet connecting remote parts of the the Himalayan region to the mainland, which in turn helped the development of Tibet.

China so far built five airports in Tibet at Gonggar, Lhasa, Bamda, Xigaze and Ngari, which is located close to Himachal Pradesh.

Stretching through five counties as well as over the 90-km long Yarlung Zangbo (Brahmaputra) Grand Canyon, the line is expected to bring rail network for the first time to the south western parts of Tibet, which now rely solely on roads for transport, state-run Xinhuna news agency said.

This is the first extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway that opened in July 2006.

The Lhasa-Xigaze railway, with a budget of 13.3 billion yuan (about USD 2.1 billion) is capable of transporting 8.3 million tonnes of cargo every year.

It is also regarded as a noted major engineering achievement as its designed route detour around nature reserves and drinking water sources to better protect the fragile plateau environment, the report said.

Jamcan said Tibet will continue to boost infrastructure construction to bring out the potential for tourism while protect the ecological environment in the region.

Tibet received 11 million domestic and overseas visitors last year, bringing in a total tourism revenue of 13.2 billion yuan (USD 2.1 billion).

Xigaze, with a history of more than 600 years, is Tibet's second largest city and the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas.



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