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Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Extend Further
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Tibet plans to start building a branch line for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway this year, which will link the region's capital Lhasa with Xigaze, a major Tibetan city some 280 kilometers to its southwest.

Jin Shixun, director of the regional development and reform commission said Sunday that the new line will be the first feeder line for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

Jin told a session of the regional legislative body that the government is racing against time in its preparations so that the construction work could be kicked off as soon as possible.

If everything goes well, the authorities hope that the feasibility study could be completed by the end of January, and the preliminary design by the end of May, while the actual construction could be started within the year.

According to the current plan, the railway is expected to operational by 2010.

Tibet ended its history without railway in July 2006 with the operation of the 1,956-km Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The railway has prompted a huge surge in the number of tourists to Tibet, bringing the region billions of yuan in tourism revenue.

Liu Zhijun, China's railway minister, said on Friday that the railway had transported 1.18 million passengers and 1.16 million tons of cargo since then.

(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2007)

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