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Tibet's Second Railway Line Opens
   2014-08-15 22:53:51    Xinhua      Web Editor: Guo

A passenger train from Lhasa to Xigaze is on standby at Lhasa railway station in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Aug. 15, 2014. [Photo: Xinhua]

A second railway line in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, an extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world's highest, was officially put into use on Friday.

The 251-km railway line links the regional capital Lhasa and Xigaze, the second-largest city in the region. It reduces the travel time from the current four hours by highway to around two hours.

The new railway brings the total length of operating railways in Tibet to 802 km. Construction of the railway started in 2010 with an investment of 13.28 billion yuan (2.16 billion U.S. dollars).

Tickets for the new line went on sale Friday. The first passenger train is scheduled to leave Lhasa for Xigaze at 9 a.m. Saturday.

"The railway will make transportation of our goods more convenient and reduce the transport costs a lot, compared with highways," said Jampa Daintar, general manager of a Tibetan foodstuff company in Xigaze, which produces traditional barley liquor and other food products.

Due to complicated geological conditions, numerous bridges and tunnels and hefty investment in environmental protection, the cost of the railway exceeded 50,000 yuan per meter on average, making it the most expensive in China's history.

Zhang Lizhong, deputy head of the Lhasa-Xigaze railway construction headquarters, said the rail route design has attempted to bypass a state-level black-necked crane nature reserve in the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River and a water source protection area in Qushui County.

To lessen the impact on the migration of wild animals, viaducts were built on major sections of the route, said Zhang.

The Lhasa-Xigaze railway represents a new stage in Chinese rail construction, said Xu Hongchun, the railway's chief designer.

It demonstrates that China has mastered mature technologies for high plateau railway construction, he said.

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