(TibetanReview.net, Jun18’19) – China is to open Tibet for mainland Chinese ever wider with work for the final section of the ongoing Sichuan-Tibet Railway project set to start soon. The railway will serve as a major transportation artery linking China with Tibet as well as South Asia. An announcement that the work will start soon was made by Peng Qinghua, Sichuan Province Party chief, during a press conference at the State Council Information Office, reported China’s official Global Times Jun 16.
The Chengdu-Ya’an section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, located within China, has started operations. And the Lhasa-Nyingchi (Tibetan: Nyingtri) section, located in Tibet, is already under construction.
The final section, the 1,000-kilometer Ya’an-Nyingchi section, will connect Tibet with China and is also the most difficult part. “Bridges and tunnels will cover over 90 percent of the line, that is to say, nearly 800 kilometres of tunnels and 100 kilometres of bridges,” the report quoted Peng as saying.
“It is far more difficult to build the Sichuan-Tibet Railway than the Qinghai-Tibet Railway since geological conditions are complex along the Sichuan-Tibet line, with severe geological conditions and disasters such as permafrost, alpine hypoxia, landslides, earthquake zones, and geothermal and rock bursts,” the report quoted Zhao Jian, an expert on railway economics at the Beijing Jiaotong University, as sayng.
The line starts from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, passed through Ya’an, enters Tibet Autonomous Region via Qamdo (Chamdo) City, then Nyingchi City, and ends at Tibet’s capital Lhasa.
The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second line linking Tibet Autonomous Region with China after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. “Sichuan was the starting point of the southern silk road in history. Now it is the pivot of the Belt and Road Initiative economy belt, linking land and sea,” Peng was quoted as saying.
What is more, “the Sichuan-Tibet railway will make it possible to build a railway connecting China, Nepal, India and other countries, which will boost the regional economy with convenient transportation,” the report quoted Zhao as saying.