(TibetanReview.net, Mar07’21) – The Lhasa-Nyingchi (Tibetan: Nyingtri) section of China’s strategic Sichuan-Tibet Railway will begin operation before July this year with high-speed trains running at over 160 kph, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Mar 6. It will mark the opening of bullet train services in all Chinese mainland provincial-level regions, the report cited China’s railway operator as saying.
The 435-km railway will run Fuxing trains powered by both internal-combustion and electricity, the report cited Lu Dongfu, board chairman of China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. and a deputy to the National People’s Congress, as saying.
Construction started in 2014 and the track-laying work completed by the end of 2020, the report said.
The 1,800-km Sichuan-Tibet Railway is China’s biggest construction project, costing 319.8 billion yuan ($49.4 billion), compared to the 250 billion yuan spent on the gigantic Three Gorges Dam.
“The railway project has great significance to maintaining national unity, promoting ethnic unity and consolidating stability in border areas,” Chinese President Xi Jinping had said during the project’s ground breaking ceremony in Nov 2020.
“The Sichuan-Tibet Railway is a fundamental railway project directly linked to border defense,” China’s official globaltimes.cn Feb 23 quoted Zhao Jian, a professor with Beijing Jiaotong University, as saying.
Nyingchi is located less than 50km from the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
Within China, the Chengdu-Ya’an section of the railway is already in service. And with the opening within Tibet of the railway’s Lhasa-Nyingchi section due in June this year, only the most challenging section, the Ya’an-Nyingchi section, remains to be completed. Work on this section began in Nov 2020, and is set for completion only around 2030.