|Qinghai-Tibet Railway – A Symbol of the Future|
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's highest plateau railway, has stood safety and environmental tests while boosting regional economic growth.
The 1956-kilometer (1222.5 miles)railway link begins in Xining, capital city of Qinghai Province of China and goes to Lhasa, capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Work started on June 29, 2001. Up to March 25, 2006, investment in the project stood at 28.5 billion yuan (about US$3.6 billion) – 1.2 billion yuan (US$150 million) of which was spent on environmental protection projects.
The highest point on the line is 5,072 meters(16641 inches) above sea level. The railway covers 960-kilometers at an altitude of more than 4000 meters (13124 inches) and over 550 kilometers(343.75 miles) within the "frozen earth" area.
From 2006 to 2010, the rail link has transported more than 41 million passengers and 180 million tonnes of cargo.
According to the statistics of Tibet's tourism bureau, Tibet received 6.8 million tourists in 2010, 3.8 times the 2005 figure. 42 percent of the tourists traveled by train.
By the end of 2015, Tibet expects to host 15 million tourists annually and post an annual tourism revenue of 18 billion yuan (2.8 billion U.S. dollars), he said.
To effectively protect the ecological environment was an extremely important part of the railway's construction and is the focus of attention from both home and abroad. The Chinese authorities attached significant importance to this issue.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway passes through three national nature reserves including Hoh Xil, a major habitat for the critically-endangered Tibetan antelope.
Perched at an average altitude of 4,500 meters, Hoh Xil reserve contains the largest area of uninhabited land in China and is dubbed the country's "last haven for wild animals. The population of the antelopes in the Hoh Xil region had increased from around 50,000 in 2006 to more than 60,000.