China plans second railway link with Tibet
BEIJING: China will build a second railway connecting Tibet with other parts of the country, expanding its connectivity with the Himalayan region and increasing its strategic options to rapidly move troops to the borders with India.
The railway will be built between Tibet Autonomous Region's capital city Lhasa and Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, in southwest China, according to the draft outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) on national economy and social development submitted to the national legislature for examination. It provided no further details.
The plan is to be implemented from this year after its approval. The new rail line is in addition to the Qinghai- Tibet Railway linking Tibet with inland regions of China.
The 1,956-km railway, which started operation in July 2006, is the world's highest and longest plateau railroad. It further expanded the deeper into the Tibet almost closer to the Indian border.
In addition to the railway expansion, China has also built five airports in the Himalayan region.
The rapid expansion of the road, rail and air services in Tibet, providing the facility to rapidly move the troops besides people made India to undertake infrastructure development in the border regions, specially in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of southern Tibet.
Media reports have said the new railway will be about 1,629-km long, and it will only take 15 hours for trains traveling between Lhasa and Chengdu, state-run Xinhua news agency said.
"We hope that the railway will be completed as early as possible. It will provide new momentum for our development, especially the tourism," said Wangdui, a national lawmaker and mayor of Tibet's Nyingchi City, where the new railway will go through.
In addition, the country will accelerate construction of railways in border areas and build cross-border corridors, the draft said.
More high-speed railways, including one linking Beijing and Hong Kong (Taipei), will be built, it said.
It is expected that the length of high-speed railways in operation will reach 30,000 km, linking over 80 percent of the country's major cities, the draft said.
China currently has over 16,000 km of high speed train network.