Qinghai-Tibet Railway Project to Start on June 29

The massive construction project of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is scheduled to begin on June 29, when inauguration ceremonies will be held simultaneously in Beijing, Lhasa and Golmud in Qinghai, sources with railway department said Sunday.

Ten successful bidders for the totally state-funded project from within China are moving their work forces, equipment and logistics to the highland work sites of the railway, officials with the Ministry of Railways said.

The State Council set up a leading group for the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in late February this year, followed by the Ministry of Railways' installation of its command headquarters for this project. Related government organizations have also been put in place in Qinghai Province and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The railway linking Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province, and Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet, will be 1,956 kilometers in length. The northern part from Xining to Golmud, a traffic hub in Qinghai, was completed in 1984.

Upon completion in six years, the railway will be the highest railroad in the world. Most importantly, it will end a history of the Tibet Autonomous Region not being accessible by train.

After the project is completed, the railway will be extended to Shigaze and Linzhi in Tibet, as well as Yunnan Province.

According to officials with the Ministry of Railways, over 1, 700 engineers, who were sent to the railway line for survey, handed in a feasibility report at the end of April. The government has approved shop drawings for several of the most difficult tunnel projects.

Experts pointed out that the project would encounter three major problems -- the geological impact, frozen soil, and the sheer cold and oxygen shortage caused by high altitude.

On the issue of possible environmental consequences of the plateau railway, various studies have been conducted and plans have been formulated to ensure the protection of ecological environment along the railway.

Glacier experts have conducted investigations in the areas, while railways built on frozen soil in Russia and Canada have also been studied. In addition, sources disclosed that magnetic materials and new technology would be used in the project.

Health protection methods for working at high-altitude areas have been worked out by the Ministry of Public Health to deal with the lack of oxygen and high ultraviolet radiation. Hospitals are being set up along the construction line, the Ministry of Railways said.

(People's Daily 06/18/2001)

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