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Development

Feasibility Study Stepped Up for Building Railway to Tibet

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 00/12/13; December 13, 2000.]

The People's Daily

Monday, December 11, 2000, updated at 16:34(GMT+8) China

At present, among China's 34 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, including Taiwan Province, Tibet is the only place without a railway. Constructing a railway leading to Tibet is not only the expectation of the 2.4 million Tibetan people, but also the desire of the people of all nationalities of the whole country.

Tibet, which covers a total area of 2.3 million sq. km, representing one-eighth of the country's land area, is the main region inhabited in compact community by China's Tibetan compatriots. Tibet is a remote region with inconvenient communications. Thus far, personnel and materials going in and out of Tibet mainly rely on highway and air transportation with low transport capacity, small transport volume, long time consumed and high cost, falling far short of meeting the needs of Tibet's economic development and social progress.

In particular, Tibet is located in the southwest border of the motherland, with a boundary line stretching over 4,000 km, for the unity of nationalities and the consolidation of national defense, it is necessary to build a railway in Tibet leading to the inland as quickly as possible.

As early as the 1950s, the Party Central Committee and the State Council gave a written instruction to the Ministry of Railways concerning the formula for planning the construction of a railway to Tibet, the survey of routes and the selection of lines. After many years of work, the Ministry of Railways had repeatedly studied the formulas of the four railway lines from Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan to Tibet. The latest discussion on the formulas and the feasibility study examination meeting was held in Beijing between September 18-20.

1. The Qinghai-Tibet line formula: This line starts from Nanshankou of Golmud City in Qinghai Province through a number of places, then via Deqing to Lhasa, the line is 1,080 km in length, with 564 km in Qinghai Province, and 516 km in Tibet Autonomous Region. It is estimated the railway will take 7 to 8 years to complete and will involve a total investment of 19.4 billion yuan based on the 1995 static evaluation.

2. The Gansu-Tibet line formula: This line stretches from Yongjing County near Lanzhou of Gansu Province via 4 provinces and autonomous regions, five autonomous prefectures, two prefectures and a dozen or so counties (cities), when it runs to Nagqu, it connects the above-mentioned Qinghai-Tibet line to Lhasa. The line is 2,126 km in length, it will involve a total investment of 63.84 billion yuan calculated in accordance with the 1995 static evaluation.

3. The Yunnan-Tibet line formula: Trains on this line pull out from the western end of Dali Station of Guangtong-Dali Railway in Yunnan Province through a number of places to the terminal of Lhasa. The whole line will take 10 year to complete and will involve a total investment of over 63.59 billion yuan calculated on the basis of the 1997 static evaluation.

4. The Sichuan-Tibet line formula: Trains on this line pull out from the Dujiangyan Station near Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province through a number of places then on to the above-mentioned Yunnan-Tibet line. It is 1,927 km in length, with 1,243 km within Tibet. Total investment is estimated at nearly 76.79 billion yuan calculated on the basis of the 1995 static evaluation.

The above-mentioned four formulas each do have their advantages, as phased long-range plans, they are all feasible. They are all very important in terms of road network planning and traffic layout. The Yunnan-Tibet line and the Qinghai-Tibet line, in particular, both have their respective construction significance and role, they can't replace each other. Both the No.1 and No.2 institutes of the Ministry of Railways agreed that it is quite difficult to build a railway leading to Tibet and so the matter should be taken with great care.

But judged from the actual conditions, including initial stage preparation, the degree of difficulties involved in the project, the amount of investment, the working period for the project and the State's present financial and material resources, the No.1 Institute is of the opinion that it is appropriate to take the Qinghai-Tibet line as the first choice at present. The 1,080-km-long Qinghai-Tibet line is currently the shortest among the four lines leading to Tibet. It will require less investment.

The No.2 Institute stressed that Construction of the Yunnan-Tibet Railway will fundamentally change the communications and transportation conditions of Tibet and western Yunnan and is of great political, economic and military significance to accelerating the regional economic development of Tibet and western Yunnan Province and to strengthening ethnic unity and national defense.

Finally, both No.1 and No.2 institutes indicated that in the selection from among the four formulas for the construction of a railway leading to Tibet, particularly from between the Qinghai-Tibet line and the Yunnan-Tibet line, which formula should be chosen in the end, they will completely obey the decision of the Party Central Committee and the State Council. They believe that the day is not far off when the final decision will come out. Probably it will come in the first spring of the 21st century.


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