BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world's highest, is to complete track laying by the end of this year and go into trial operation on July 1, 2006, said Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun on Monday.
|Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world's highest, is to complete track laying by the end of this year and go into trial operation on July 1, 2006 (baidu photo)|
Construction of the 1,142-kilometer railway started in 2001 at the cost of 26.2 billion yuan (3.16 billion US dollars), Liu said while joining deputies of the National People's Congress from the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region for deliberation on Monday.
The railway from Golmud in the northwestern Qinghai Province toLhasa is a landmark project in China's blueprint to develop its western regions. "It is the most elevated rail route in the world," said Liu. "About 960 km of the railway are above 4,000 m high and its most elevated sections reach 5,072 m."
He said the railway also highlights ecosystem protection, with some 8 percent of the total construction cost -- at least 2 billion yuan (240 million US dollars) -- budgeted for ecological conservation, the biggest amount among all China's railway construction projects.
After it opens to traffic in 2007, the railway is expected to link Lhasa with Qinghai's provincial capital Xining and major cities of Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Traffic has been one of the major obstacles to the economic development of Tibet, which makes up about one eighth of China's territory and was the only provincial area without a single inch of operating rail route.