Next year will be of vital importance for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway project as some key and dangerous parts of the project get underway, Minister of Railways Fu Zhihuan said in Beijing on Friday.
Fu said the Ministry of Railways plans to invest 5.6 billion yuan (about US$676 million) in 2003 to add 190 kilometers of track and make breakthroughs in a permafrost soil project, along with progress in the construction of earthwork, bridges and tunnels in the whole line.
Vice Minister of Railways Sun Yongfu, also deputy head of the leadership group of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway project, said that the key part of the project next year is the section from Kunlun Mountains to Tanggula Mountains.
There will be more challenges next year, as the team will spend most of its time on the altiplano areas 4,500-5,000 meters above sea level where oxygen is quite scarce, said Sun.
The hardest part of the project will be at its highest point at 5,072 meters at Tanggula Mountains, said Sun, adding that about 130 kilometers from the railway are areas where humans are scarce and where the geology is in extremely bad condition.
Sun said the railway workers will double their efforts to remove the obstacles hindering the railway construction in this section, especially permafrost soil. More scientific designs and tests will be launched next year to resolve the problem and some new experiments will be done in the south of Tanggula Mountains next year.
"We have the confidence and ability to solve the soil issue," said Sun.
A total of 5.32 billion yuan was put in to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway project this year, 0.32 billion yuan more than the budget, according to resources from the Ministry of Railways.
So far 121 kilometers of track has been laid for the new main line, and will be carried forward to the entrance to Kunlun Mountains Tunnel by the end of this year.
A series of key and difficult projects to the railway have seen great progress this year, such as the Kunlun Mountain Tunnel and Fenghuo Mountain Tunnel, and most were completed ahead of schedule.
(Xinhua News Agency December 21, 2002)