(TibetanReview.net, Mar11’22) – Construction of the geologically and technologically highly challenging but politically and geo-strategically imperative middle section of a high-profile railway connecting Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan Province, and Lhasa, capital of occupied Tibet, is ongoing, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency Mar 9, citing Lu Chunfang, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who was attending the ongoing annual session of China’s political advisory body in Beijing.
“The Sichuan-Tibet Railway is a strategic project with many challenges, including a complicated geological structure, which will make construction extremely difficult, and a sensitive environment in the region,” Lu has said.
Lu, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee, is also the general director of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the first railway in Tibet, the report said.
Referring to the difficulties and challenges ahead as the construction progresses, Lu has said that upon completion, the railway will cross eight mountains, with more than 93% of the line consisting of bridges and tunnels.
The railway line’s six tunnels will (each) stretch more than 30 kilometers, with the longest being 42 km, he has said, adding that the tunnels will not only be long, but also buried deep underground, and were therefore subject to higher risk of collapse.
Building the bridges will also be problematic. “The bridge that will pass over the Nujiang River will be 610 meters tall, which is nearly the same height of Shanghai Tower, China’s tallest building (632 m tall),” Lu has added.
He has also said the line passes 75 environmentally sensitive points, including natural reserves and water conservation areas, all posing challenges to construction.
Two of the three-part, 1,838-km Sichuan-Tibet Railway projects are already running. The Chengdu-Ya’an section in Sichuan opened in 2018, and the Lhasa-Nyingchi line began operating last year.
The third and most challenging section, linking Sichuan and Tibet between Ya’an and Nyingchi (Tibetan: Nyingtri), began in 2020.
Apparently because of unresolved difficulties that still lie ahead, the date of the railway’s planned completion has yet to be revealed.