The length of the existing Qinghai-Tibet railway is 1956 KM. Even the shortest train ride from Xining takes 24 hours to reach Lhasa. Although Lhasa has connected by trains many big cities, like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Chongqing and etc. They all take more than 40 hours. This pace cannot meet the high-speed development of China. So it is important to build a new railway of shorter distance and higher speed. With Sichuan – Tibet Railway can reduce the time down to 8 hours only.
Against this background, Chengdu, as the biggest city in southwest China as well as a traditional harbor city for commodities and people to enter Tibet, comes into people’s view. And now, people have three options to reach Lhasa from Chengdu: flight from Chengdu to Lhasa taking 2 hours; overland journey by National Highway of No 318 taking three days at least; Chengdu-Lhasa train via Qinghai-Tibet railway taking 44 hours, and it only departs every other day, difficult to buy train tickets. However, the flight is too expensive though short, overland is too long though beautiful, Qinghai-Tibet railway is too difficult though appears fine.
So, to build a direct railway from Chengdu to Lhasa (Sichuan—Tibet Railway) is very necessary and significant.
The proposed Sichuan-Tibet railway will span 1,629 km, 650 km of which will be in Sichuan province. It is said that trains will be designed to travel at a maximum speed of 200 km per hour and will take only eight hours to reach Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
The 1,600-kilometer-long line under construction is designed to start from Chengdu, pass through Ya’an and Kangding, then enter Tibet via Qamdo and end at Lhasa. The 140-kilometer Chengdu-Ya’an high-speed railway, which serves part of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, started operation in 2018 with a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
Compared with building Qinghai-Tibet railway, it is more challengeable to build Sichuan-Tibet Railway, because the landforms across Sichuan and Tibet are more complicated and dangerous than that in northern Tibet where mainly vast flat grasslands are located. The construction of Sichuan-Tibet railway will not only confront the similar problems of permafrost, altitude sickness, environment protection, animal immigration, but also problems of mudslides, underground rivers, earthquakes, terrestrial heat and etc, many more tunnels and bridges have to be used.
The railway’s construction will have to overcome frozen earth, landslides, rock slides, cold weather and a lack of oxygen due to high altitude in some places. The railway is also designed to open up China’s gateway to South Asia for bilateral economic and trade cooperation via land. Presently, Yadong (or Yatung) and Zhangmu connect Tibet with India and Nepal. The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will also open land passages from Central, East and South China to South Asia.
The Hengduan Mountains near the line have an abundance of natural resources, including water, vegetation, and minerals. The Yulong Copper Mine near the mountain in Tibet has a proven reserve of 6.5 million tons of copper, first among the country’s copper mines.No matter how difficult it is, based on China’s rich railway construction experience and stable GDP growth, the proposed Sichuan-Tibet railway will start building in near future. On the other hand, construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway will help propel economic and tourism development along the line too. Eighty-two counties and districts along the line in Sichuan, Yunnan, and Tibet boast snow-capped mountains, grasslands, and Tibetan and Buddhist cultures.
The proposed railway will span 1,629 km, 650 km of which will be in Sichuan. Trains will travel at a maximum speed of 200 km per hour and will take only eight hours to reach Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet autonomous region.
The rail line is expected to be finished in 2020 with an investment of nearly 54 billion yuan ($7.9 billion) in State funds.
Construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway is expected to propel economic and tourism development along the line.
The Hengduan Mountains near the line have an abundance of natural resources, including water, vegetation, and minerals.
The Yulong Copper Mine near the mountain in Tibet has a proven reserve of 6.5 million tons of copper, first among the country’s copper mines.
Eighty-two counties and districts along the line in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and Tibet boast snow-capped mountains, grasslands, and Tibetan and Buddhist cultures.
Previous reports said that 80 percent of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway will consist of tunnels and bridges, and the cumulative ascent of the line will exceed 16,000 meters, which is equivalent to double the height of Qomolangma, the world’s highest mountain also known as Mount Everest.