Linking Lhasa to Xigaze cities in Tibet, the construction of a 254-km extension line of the Qinghai- Tibet Railway will start this year and is expected to be completed in 2010, a Tibetan official said Thursday.
The railway, the first feeder line for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, will cost 11 billion yuan (US$1.42 billion), said Dotub, a Tibetan legislator at a press conference held on the sidelines of the country's parliamentary session in Beijing.
The First Survey and Design Institute of China Railway (FSDI), based in Xi'an, capital of northwestern Shaanxi Province, has started the design work for the railway line linking the top two largest cities in Tibet, sources with the FSDI said.
Upon completion, the railway line, which will allow a designed speed at least 120 km per hour, will be able to carry seven million tons of cargo a year, and eventually ten million, according to the FSDI sources.
Located in the southwest of Tibet Autonomous Region and bordering Nepal, Bhutan and India, Xigaze is some 280 km to the southwest of Lhasa, the hometown of the 11th Panchen Lama, and an important base of agriculture and animal husbandry.
Tibet ended its history without railway in July 2006 with the overall operation of the 1,956-km Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
Liu Zhijun, China's railway minister, said on Jan. 12 this year that the railway had transported 1.18 million passengers and 1.16 million tons of cargo since then, bringing the region billions of yuan in tourism revenue.
(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2007)