Progress On The Sichuan-Tibet Railway Picks Up Speed
The newest railway to Tibet is picking up steam as construction teams prepare to start building the nine new stations on the stretch from Lhasa to Nyingchi in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. While an exact date for commencement of the construction work has yet to be set, the Office of the Leading Group of Railway Construction and Operation in Lhasa has stated that the project bidding has already been awarded to the China Railway Construction Group and China Railway Construction Engineering Group.

According to the Lhasa Radio news, work is said to be starting within the month on the new stations, and the construction should be completed before the end of 2020. One of the easiest sections of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway to be constructed, the stretch from Lhasa to Nyingchi, which stretches for 435 kilometers through the southwest of Tibet, the laying of track is already well under way, beginning construction in June of 2015 and is expected to open for trains from Lhasa to Nyingchi only by 2021.

The construction of the main arch of Zangmu Railway Bridge in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region
The Sichuan-Tibet Railway was first proposed almost 100 years ago, as a means of getting to the plateau from mainland China. The ideas were never realized, though, and were revived once again in 1949. Again, construction never began, as the many hurdles construction engineers faced could not yet be overcome with the technology of the time. As time passed, the easier route from Xining to Lhasa was recommended and then built, making it the first railway line in Tibet and the highest railway in the world.

Construction on one of the many bridges that will make up the Sichuan-Tibet Railway
Trains to Tibet from Chengdu in Sichuan Province would make the trip to Lhasa much faster, reducing it from 36 hours to only around 15 hours. The tracks are being built in three sections, Lhasa to Nyingchi, Nyingchi to Ya’an, and Ya’an to Chengdu. The first stretch of tracks, from Chengdu to Ya’an, was started in 2014 and completed in 2018, and trains began running along this stretch in December 2018. Regular trains now run from Chengdu to Ya’an at speeds of up to 160km/h.

Route of the Sichuan Tibet Railway with Ya'an to Nyingchi Section shown as dotted line
The third section of the track, from Ya’an to Nyingchi, is the hardest construction project in the world, with the route of the railway passing through areas of Nyingchi that are fraught with earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, and karst formations that conceal underground streams and caves. The route winds up from the Sichuan Basin to the plateau, climbing from an altitude of just 600 meters to the lower plateau areas of around 3,000 to 4,500 meters. The feasibility studies for the section have already been submitted by the People’s Railway Daily, and the Party Secretary for Sichuan Province, Peng Qinghua, reported in a news conference that the last section would begin soon. Original reports stated the completed line from Chengdu to Lhasa would be ready to open in 2025.

An aerial view of the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway
Covering around 1,000 kilometers, almost 90 percent of the tracks would be constructed over bridges and through tunnels in the mountains of Nyingchi. Plans show that the final track would include 800 kilometers of tunnels and around 100km of bridges. The consensus for this amazingly complex construction route was approved by the government departments involved in Sichuan on June 26, according to the Department of Natural Resources in the province. Once in operation, this incredible feat of engineering will be the second line to Tibet, and make Sichuan Province one of the most important transport hubs in China, bringing China closer to its target of connecting overland railways with Nepal and India.
So far, there are many favorable train trips to Lhasa from China and we operate a special group train tour, China to Tibet Train Tours which gives unforgetable adventures to tourists on this vast Qinghai Tibet Plateau and can explore the real adventure on the roof of the world. You can contact at to know more about train tours to Lhasa. 
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