Qinghai-Tibet Railway expected to be extended from Lhasa to Xigaze
BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhuanet) -- The eye-catching Qinghai-Tibet railway, which will begin its trial runs this July, is expected to be further extended from Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, to Xigaze City in the southwestern part of the region, according to Tibetan chairman Qingba Puncog.
The projected section between Lhasa and Xigaze is expected to be completed in the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2006-2010), Puncog said Saturday in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the annual session of the Tenth National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislative body.
The 1,142-kilometer-long Qinghai-Tibet railway, which runs across the frozen tundras of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau and links Golmud of Qinghai with Lhasa, is the first railway connecting Tibet with other parts of China.
"The world's highest railroad is expected to help further boost economic development in Tibet and bring more benefits to local people," Puncog said.
Upon completion, the line will link Tibet to China's extensive rail network, with the journey from Beijing to Lhasa - in pressurized aircraft-like carriages - taking 48 hours. Noting that protection of the ecological environment was an essential concern in the design of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, Puncog said the routes were selected so that they would keep away from the major habitats of wild animals.
As for the so-called "ecological disaster" that some foreign media reports have played up, Puncog stressed that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has never caused and will never cause any side effects on the ecological environment.