China's newly-built railway to Tibet will be extended some 270 km from Lhasa to the region's second largest city of Xigaze next year, a local official said Wednesday.
The project is expected to take three years, said Yu Yungui, executive vice commissioner with the Administrative Office of Xigaze Prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region, at a news conference in the regional capital of Lhasa.
"The railway will offer great opportunities for the social and economic development of Xigaze," Yu said.
About 3,500 tourists have visited Xigaze every day since July 1 when the Qinghai-Tibet Railway opened, and all the hotels in the city have been fully occupied, he said.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway stretches 1,956 kilometers from Xining, capital of northwest China's Qinghai Province, to Lhasa. About 960 kilometers is located 4,000 meters above sea level and the highest point is 5,072 meters, at least 200 meters higher than the Peruvian railway in the Andes, formerly the world's highest track.
The railway linked Tibet with the rest of the country for the first time.
The city of Xigaze, located at an altitude of about 3,800 meters, is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, and the prefecture is also an important production base for agriculture and animal husbandry in Tibet.
The Xigaze prefecture borders India, Nepal and Bhutan in the south.
(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2006)