The first of the 4 trains starting from Lhasa railway station depart in the morning in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region July 1, 2007. (Xinhua Photo/Chogo)
Tibetan people have celebrated the first year of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, recalling the changes brought by the rail link that connects the landlocked region to the rest of the country.
"When the rails rattle, the money comes in" was how Losang Cering, 40, of Liuwu Village, near the Lhasa railway terminal, described the railway's benefits.
"Before, we depended on the land for a living, but my people are working in construction, running home-style hotels, and some are driving cabs. They can earn about 2,000 yuan a month now, an unimaginable sum before," he said.
A year after its inauguration, the railway has transported 1.5 million people into Tibet, nearly half of the total tourist arrivals. The regional tourism administration says Tibet will receive more than three million tourists this year.
"The railway is like a colorful hada (ceremonial silk scarf regarded as a token of respect) that brings us good fortune," Losang said.
"The railway has facilitated access for pilgrims and believers in and outside Tibet, and we are seeing a major increase rather than decline in the number of pilgrims," said Chilai Qoisang, deputy director of the regional Buddhism association.
Statistics from the regional government show 328,000 pilgrims visited the Potala Palace, Norbuglinkha and Johkang Monastery, the top three religious sites in Lhasa, last year up by 62,000 from the previous year.
The 1,956-km railway, runs from Xining, capital of the northwestern Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region.
(Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2007)