Several years ago, if the Tibetans in Tanggula mountainous area got sick, they would spend 300-400 yuan (approximately US$40-50) to go to Tanggula Township from the mountains by hiring a motor vehicle, and then spend over 1,000 yuan (approximately US$120) to Golmud Hospital from the township. That is to say, before they could see the doctor, they would have spent at least 1,300 yuan (approximately US$160) on the way, what’s worse, the illness would be delayed for days, and even life would be periled.
Tanggula Township is 420 km in the south of Golmud in Qinghai Province, the roads are mostly bumpy mountain roads and the local climate is atrocious. Since several decades ago, the Tibetans in Tanggula Township have had extreme difficulty in seeing doctors. They would ride horses at the beginning, and hire motor vehicle later, but neither way is safe and rapid, the illness was often delayed.
As the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is open to traffic, Tibetans in Tanggula Township can go to the hospital in time, and the traffic cost is reduced by over 1,000 yuan (approximately US$120). Since the train ticket from Tanggula Township to Golmud only costs 63 yuan (approximately US$8). And the safety is much more guaranteed, for there are often traffic accidents with buses traveling in the Tanggula area where the weather is atrocious.
It is Mr. Xin Xiangdong, the former head of Tanggula Township who told us this story. He also said, before the Qinghai-Tibet Railway opened to traffic, a bag of flour would sell 80 yuan (approximate US$10) in Tanggula Township, but now it is only half of that price, 40 yuan (approximately US$5). Besides, the vegetables and fruits are also cheaper than before.
Mr. Xin is very gratified, Qinghai-Tibet Railway will bring benefits to the Tibetans in all aspects of life. It is a line of happiness and safety. Mr. Xin Xiangdong had held the position of head of Tanggula Township, Golmud, Qinghai province from 2002 to 2004.
(China Daily August 7, 2006)