Luxury passenger train service from Beijing to the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region will be launched on September 1, the operator said on Sunday.
The interior of the train will be decorated according to the standards of a five-star hotel, making it the most luxurious train in the world, said Zhu Mingrui, general manager of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Corporation (QTRC).
"Such a train can only seat 96 passengers. The fare would be about 20 times the normal price and also much more than an airline ticket," he said.
Online ticket sales have begun for domestic and overseas tourists, who will enjoy the unique scenery of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, he said.
Earlier reports said that the project, approved by the Ministry of Railways in November, will be operated by a joint venture between Rail Partners, a subsidiary of the Shanghai-based investment company of TZG Partners, and the QTRC. It has attracted an investment of US$52.9 million from Hong Kong's Wing On Travel (Holdings) Limited.
There will be three trains, which will head from Beijing to Tibet's capital, Lhasa, every eight days. The luxury journey will take five days.
Each train will have 12 passenger cars, two dining cars and a sight-seeing car. Each passenger car will have four ten-square-meter suites featuring a double bed, a living room and bathing facilities.
"All sewage and garbage on the trains will be collected and properly disposed of; thus, they will not damage the environment of the plateau," Ben Tsen, managing director of TZG Partners, has said.
The 1,956-km Qinghai-Tibet line, running from Xi'ning, capital of northwest Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, started operation in July 2006, ending Tibet's history without railways.
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2008)