(TibetanReview.net, Jan04’19) – Tibet’s key role in China’s globally ambitious Belt and Road Initiative is set to come into play with the expected beginning of the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway in late 2019. Actually the construction has been underway at a hectic pace from both the ends since 2014. Only the most difficult section, the Kangding-Nyingchi (Tibetan: Dartsedo-Nyingtri) section within Tibet, remains to be started.
The Sichuan-Tibet Railway, which is expected to start construction in late 2019, is slated to be a major artery of transportation linking China with South Asian countries, such as Nepal and India, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 3.
The report cited the State-owned China Railway Corp as saying it aimed to complete a feasibility study of the railway (meaning, the Kangding-Nyingchi section of the railway) by the end of the second quarter of 2019 and seek the approval from the central government in the third quarter.
The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway into Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It will go through one of the world’s most geologically active areas, the report said.
Once completed, it can help with the possibility of a railway connecting China and Nepal, which could be a major route for China to reach South Asia, the report cited Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, as saying.
The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will start from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, travelling through Ya’an and enter Tibet Autonomous Region via Qamdo (Chamdo). It will then go through Nyingchi City before arriving at Lhasa, capital of Tibet.
The total construction length will be 1,700 kilometres and the cost 250 billion yuan ($36.88 billion), the report said.
The report noted that the 140-kilometre Chengdu-Ya’an section within China of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway officially started operations to 11 stations on Dec 28, 2018.