Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway leads residents in Tibet to happy life

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By Zhang Xiaodong, People’s Daily

Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway, the first electrified railway in southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region, has brought significant changes and benefits to people living along the railway route since it opened to traffic on June 25.

According to railway authorities, the railway linking Tibet’s Lhasa and Nyingchi cities had handled more than 400,000 passenger trips from the beginning of its operation to early October.

The Fuxing high-speed trains that operate on the railway line have been specially adapted for complex plateau conditions, though their interior looks just the same as regular Fuxing bullet trains, said an attendant on a Fuxing bullet train running from Nyingchi to Lhasa.

The carriages are equipped with diffuse-type and distributed-type dual-mode oxygen supply, and the trains can switch between internal combustion and electric engines as needed, the attendant said as train No. 8982 left the Nyingchi Railway Station for Lhasa. Surrounded by mountains, the red and white main building of the Nyingchi Railway Station was particularly eye-catching because of its ingenious design that integrates the traditional Tibetan style and modern architecture.

“Little Jampa, don’t you move about. Just stay in your seat quietly,” a female passenger named Luo Xiaofang said to her 6-year-old nephew Jampa Tashi on the train.

As the transport conditions are getting better and more means of transportation are available in Tibet, residents in the region have found it more convenient to travel. Luo, a resident in Zayu county of Nyingchi city also a student in Shanghai Normal University, told People’s Daily.

As Luo talked with People’s Daily reporter, Sonam Lhamo, Luo’s mother leaned back comfortably in her train seat designed according to ergonomic principles and looked at the changing landscapes outside the train. While enjoying the views of mountains, highland barley fields, and rivers through the window, she took pictures of the beautiful scenery outside the train with her mobile phone, just as many other passengers did.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway, which has become a beautiful scenic route, results from the painstaking efforts of numerous railway designers and construction personnel.

With a total length of 435.48 kilometers and a designed speed of 160 kilometers per hour, the railway passes through 47 tunnels and 121 bridges and crosses the Yarlung Zangbo River, China’s longest plateau river, 16 times. More than 90 percent of the sections of the railway are located at an elevation of over 3,000 meters.

“We used to go to Lhasa by coach. Even though road condition is much better now, it takes nearly six hours to go to Lhasa from Nang county by coach on a good day and much longer on rainy and snowy days,” said Lhasang Dondrup, a passenger who got on the train No. 8982 from Nyingchi to Lhasa at the railway station of Nang county, Nyingchi, with his wife and daughter. It was the first time the family had taken a train trip.

Sonam Lhamo, the daughter, was admitted to Tibet University in Lhasa this year. The couple took the train to accompany their daughter on her trip to her new school.

“Now, it only takes us about two hours to go to Lhasa by the high-speed train, no matter it blows or rains. The railway is so convenient, and it enables us to go to Lhasa or Nyingchi anytime we want,” Lhasang Dondrup said.

Besides residents, people who often take business trips to Tibet have also benefitted from the railway.

My company conducts business both in Nyingchi and Lhasa. The launch of the high-speed train is such great news for us. In the past, I often suffered severe altitude sickness when I flew directly from Chengdu, located at an altitude of 500 meters, to Lhasa at an elevation of more than 3,600 meters,” said a male passenger on the train. The man surnamed Liu lives in Chengdu, the capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province, and often takes business trips to Tibet.

“Now I can fly to Nyingchi first, and spend two days finishing my work there while adapting myself to a lower altitude of 3,000 meters. After that, I take the high-speed train to Lhasa when I’m better prepared for the high altitudes of the city,” Liu told People’s Daily.

Many passengers disembarked at Xierong railway station in Lhasa, an interchange station between the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway and the Lhasa-Shigatse Railway, when the high-speed train No. 8982 arrived at the end station of their journeys. At the same time, more passengers boarded the train at the station, which will take them to Shigatse city along the Lhasa-Shigatse Railway.

More railway tracks are to be laid in vast plateaus and towering mountains in the autonomous region.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway not only connects the existing Lhasa-Shigatse Railway and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, but is an essential part of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, which is expected to be completed by 2030 and will enable passengers to travel between Chengdu and Lhasa in 10 hours by high-speed trains.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway has benefited 1.31 million residents along the route, who account for 38.2 percent of the total population of Tibet.

It’s beyond doubt that the accelerated development of railways in the autonomous region will further improve the structure of the railway network in southwest China and the investment environment of the areas along railway routes.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway has brought benefits to people in Tibet and is bound to play a vital role in promoting economic prosperity and rural vitalization of the region, said veteran Czech commentator Karel Pavlíček, who called the railway an iron and steel lifeline.

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