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Last Qinghai-Tibet Track Being Laid

According to a Shanghai Morning Post report last Thursday, track laying for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the longest and highest railroad in the world, is due to be finished on October 18.

"These are all the materials needed for the remaining one kilometer of track," a China Railway Erju Co Ltd official told the paper, referring to a boxcar loaded with rails and sleepers. "It will take two days to hoist and install rails and crossties. More time will be spent on the last section, which is different from others, as a lot of sidings have to be finished by hand instead of machine."

The kilometer to the Tibetan-style Lhasa Railway Station in Tibet Autonomous Region is the last of the 1,142-kilometer-long railroad to be laid.

The Tibet Railway Corporation said a ceremony would be held to celebrate the completion of the entire line, with Ministry of Railways officials traveling its length from Nanshankou Railway Station in Qinghai Province, across the Tanggula Mountain Pass to Lhasa.

A trial train is presently performing experimental towing operations between Golmud and Lhasa, and plans for train crew relief, train staffing and safety control have almost been completed. Due to unfavorable natural conditions, such as sand winds and extreme cold with little oxygen, the train is armed with equipment to supply oxygen and protect it from cold and sand. 

The first batch of goods and materials will be transported to Lhasa on the line after its completion. Trial operations for the entire line are scheduled for July 1 next year, and it is due to be officially open to traffic a year later.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway records:

1.     The highest railway in the world.


2.     The highest frozen-earth plateau tunnel -- Fenghuo Mountain Tunnel, 1,338 meters long, at Fenghuoshan Mountain, 5,010 meters above sea level.


3.     The longest frozen-earth plateau tunnel in the world -- Kunlun Mountain Tunnel, at an altitude of 4,648 meters at its entrance and lowest temperature at minus 30 Celsius degrees. The oxygen content of the air is half that in plain areas.


4.     The highest-altitude railway station in the world -- Tanggula Railway Station, covering an area of 77,000 square meters, is located at Tanggula Mountain. 


5.     The longest railway bridge on the line -- Qingshuihe Bridge, is 11.7 kilometers long and traverses Hoh Xil Nature Reserve at an average altitude of 4,600 meters.


6.     The highest railway bridge -- Sanchahe Bridge, 690.19 meters long, is located over a canyon with an average altitude of 3,800 meters. The floor of the bridge is 54.1 meters from the bottom of the canyon.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway timeline:

1984: The railroad between Xining and Golmud was built and opened to traffic.


December 2000: The official project proposal of Qinghai-Tibet Railway was passed to the State Council.


February 8, 2001: The Qinghai-Tibet Railway project was approved and initiated.


June 29, 2001: Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway started at Golmud, Qinghai Province.


October 18, 2005: Track laying for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway due to be completed.


July 1, 2006: The entire line due to start trial operations.


July 1, 2007: The entire line due to be officially open to traffic.

(China.org.cn by Zhang Yunxing, October 10, 2005)

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