Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, known as the highest railway in the world, has entered a crucial period, a senior official with the Ministry of Railways said Tuesday.
Vice-Minister Sun Yongfu said a total of 5.6 billion yuan (674.7 million US dollars) had been arranged this year, the highest annual investment in this project which is to be completed within six years.
This year, 194 kilometers of railway track will be laid, about 83 kilometers more than that laid in 2002, he said.
Frozen earth projects across the Tanggula Mountain and in Tibet would also begin.
As frozen earth was very sensitive to air temperature changes, construction quality was a top priority this year, he said.
Sun asked relevant departments to take thorough measures to protect the permafrost earth and make sure the project went smoothly.
Given most of the year's construction work would be done at an elevation of more than 4,500 meters, cold and inadequate oxygen would pose challenges to the physical health of workers and the supply of logistics, he said.
Formally started on Jun. 29, 2001, the project aims to build the country's first railway linking Tibet and the rest of China.
With a total length of 1,100 kilometers, the railway will link Golmud, a traffic hub in Qinghai Province, with Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet, and later will be extended to Shigaze and Linzhi in Tibet, as well as Yunnan Province in southwest China.
(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2003)