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Qinghai-Tibet Railway Enters Hub County

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2004/10/10; October 10, 2004.]

Xinhua News Agency
[Xinhua is the official news agency of PRC]
October 10, 2004

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway made its way into Nagqu County, an important center in the northern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region, on Saturday. It is the area's first railway line.

With an average altitude of 4,500 meters, Nagqu is located between the Tanggula, Gangdise and Nyainqentanglha mountain ranges, all sacred areas regarded by locals as "insurmountable even by eagles."

The county contains 34 million hectares of grassland on which some 7.7 million head of livestock graze. Eighty percent of the area's 387,000 people make their living by raising livestock.

"It's been our long-cherished dream to have a railway in Nagqu County," said Duan Xiangzheng, a local official. He said the railway will help promote the animal husbandry industry and improve the people's living standards.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway will wind through Nagqu County, connecting 11 townships and 11 freight or passenger stations.

Local governments in the area have been working with experts to map out strategies for sustainable economic development and environmental protection along the railway.

Northern Tibet's abundant mineral resources are worth an estimated 6 trillion yuan (US$722 billion), about 60 percent of the total mineral value in Tibet.

"Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will improve the local people's earnings and help them learn new work techniques and modern technology," said Duan.

Since the Qinghai-Tibet Railway broke ground three years ago, over 40,000 Nagqu locals have participated in the project. It has brought them 23 million yuan (US$2.8 million) in additional income.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway entered Tibet at Amdo County last June and nearly half of the railway has now been completed, according to Shen Yubin, an engineer working on the project.

With an investment of 26.2 billion yuan (US$3.2 billion), China began building the line from Golmud City in Qinghai Province to Lhasa in 2001. It will serve as a bridge connecting Tibet -- long isolated by its rugged terrain and high altitude -- with the central plains.

The project is part of the central government's campaign to develop China's western region, strengthen its economy and help the local people to improve their living standards.

The 1,142-kilometer Qinghai-Tibet Railway is scheduled to be completed in 2007.

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