The first of three high-speed trains that will travel along the Shanghai-Lhasa rail line arrived in town yesterday.
The line will open sometime around the coming National Day Holiday at the start of October, and connect with the Qinghai-Tibet line, which opened in July, according to Shanghai Railway Administration. Shanghai will join Beijing, Chongqing, Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, Xining, capital of Qinghai Province and Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province as major cities with direct train service to Tibet.
The first of the 16-carriage trains, which were specially produced by Bombardier, pulled into the Shanghai Railway Station yesterday morning.
The trains are specially equipped for the high-altitude rail line, and feature some improvements over trains that went into use along the Tibet Plateau in July.
In order to protect the plateau's environment, sewage isn't dumped along the rail line as is normal practice in other parts of the country. Instead, it is stored in vacuum containers that are emptied in a station in Geremu, Qinghai Province.
Trains operating along the Shanghai-Lhasa line are equipped with enlarged excrement containers almost twice the size of the sewage containers on trains that went into use earlier this summer.
The improvement aims to help the trains deal with possible delays on the journey due to emergencies.
Carriages also house improved lighting systems.
The 4,300-kilometer journey from Shanghai to the Tibetan capital will take about 52 hours and cover some of the rail lines in north and west China before merging onto the Qinghai-Tibet line.
Since the Qinghai-Tibet line runs at altitudes between 2,828 and 5,072 meters, oxygen masks have been installed over every seat and bed on the trains.
Additional oxygen will automatically be pumped into carriages whenever the train's GPS system indicates it is running at an altitude above 3,000 meters to help passengers avoid high-altitude sickness.
The Shanghai Railway Administration said yesterday it is still too early to say when the trains will start running or how much tickets will cost. That information should be available by the middle of this month, they said. Travel agents in the city expect the trip to cost about the same as a journey between Beijing and Lhasa, about 1,000 yuan.
(Shanghai Daily September 6, 2006)