The Qinghai-Tibet Road, built after the establishment of the People's Republic of China won the name of "the First Road toward Happy Life". Local people have now dubbed the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which is currently under construction, "the Second Road toward Happy Life". As one of the major projects of the tenth "Five Year Plan", construction has been going smoothly for four years. Serious problems like extreme cold weather, lack of oxygen, earth that's been frozen for years and a fragile ecology, have been overcome. The project is scheduled to be completed next July.
Work on the project began on June 29th, 2001. The railroad starts from Golmud in the north, stretches a distance of 1,142 kilometers to Lhasa in the south. 960 kilometers of the track are over 4,000 meters above sea level, the highest point being 5,072 meters. 550 kilometers of the line are laid in frozen earth. When completed, it will be the highest and longest highlands railroad in the world.
A total investment of about US$2 billion has been poured into the project. Construction workers have put an emphasis on both quality as well as environmental protection.
Chief project director Wu Weizhou said: "The whole project is going very well now. We've almost finished the main part of the project, and the underground section is basically finished. The railway will be paved up to Lhasa at the end of the year. We're sure that the railway will be ready by next July."
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a landmark project that is part of the government's drive to develop the country's western regions. It will benefit the development of Tibet's communications and tourism, and promote economic and cultural exchanges between Tibet and other parts of China.
Yang Haibin, vice chairman of People's Government of Tibet Autonomous Region, said: "The Qinghai-Tibet Railway will promote communication between Tibet and other parts of China. The human resources, goods, and abundant information brought about by such communication will lead to the development of both the economic and social conditions of Tibet."
A Lhasa resident said: "Well I'm not lacking anything else now. My only wish is that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Project can be finished as soon as possible."
When the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is completed, it will be possible to travel from Lhasa to Beijing in just 48 hours.
(CCTV August 5, 2005)