(TibetanReview.net, Mar 18, 2009) — The launch of the Tangula Luxury Trains, the first luxury train service between China’s capital Beijing and Tibet’s capital Lhasa has again been postponed from Apr 2009 to the spring of 2010, reported the AP news service Mar 16. It was stated, however, that some trips would be available later this year, ahead of the train’s official launch. The company has said the decision was taken in light of the current business climate and all the financial indicators in the near term. The more forthright reason remains, however, that foreigners have been banned from Tibet since Mar’09 and the number of Chinese tourists has seen considerable decline due to anticipated Tibetan protests ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries.
“It’s not a good time to visit Tibet now, and I think you know the reason,” the report quoted Xiao Su, sales manager for the Lhasa-based Tibet-China Travel Agency was quoted as saying.
The service’s delay has resulted in a loss to the company of about $2 million in advance bookings. The fares are $3,300-$5,000 per person, depending on the route.
Tangula, the first foreign-invested passenger train service in the PRC, earlier postponed the launch of the train service from Sep 2008 to Apr’09. The company had been planning to offer a weekly route from Beijing to Lhasa and about twice a month from Beijing to the scenic mountain town of Lijiang, in Yunnan.