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China to Build 100-km Section of Qinghai-Tibet Railway in 2001

[Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency). April 5, 2001.]

Xian, 5 April.

A 100-kilometre section of the Qinghai-Tibet railway will be built this year, a government official of northwest China's Qinghai Province disclosed here Thursday [5 April].

Su Sen, vice-governor of Qinghai, said that according to state plans, construction of the 1,118-km railway, from Qinghai's Golmud to Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, will start in the second half of this year.

A 100-km section from Golmud to Wangkun is expected to be finished within the year, the official said. The Qinghai-Tibet railway is the first railway linking Tibet to the rest of the country.

China decided to build the railway leading to Tibet starting from Qinghai based on careful research and tests. Su Sen said that Qinghai has established a special group to be in charge of the railway construction.

He said that construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, the elevation of which is the highest in the world, will also be one of the most arduous projects in the history of mankind. However, " We have developed sophisticated technologies to build the project," Su stressed. The official told Xinhua that a railway section connecting Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, and Golmud, which was built 10 years ago, had suffered "illnesses" compounded by frozen earth on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. "Chinese railway experts have successfully cured the 'illnesses' in three years' efforts," he added.

It is learned that more than 960 km, or over four-fifths of the railway will be built at an altitude of over 4,000 meters. And more than half of it will be laid on earth that has been frozen for a long period of time. Su said that construction of the railway is expected to bring more opportunities to develop Qinghai's coal resources and local industries, and is to accelerate the tourism industry of Tibet.

Currently, highways and air routes are the major transportation links between Tibet and the rest of China. Experts believe that the railway will promote economic development along the rail route and push the development of service and building industries in project areas. Su predicted that the railway will extend to Tibet's border within two years.

A 564-km section of the railway will be inside Qinghai and the other 554km will lie in Tibet. In some parts of the railway, designers have set aside areas for building special passages for wild animals. China plans to complete the project in six years.

[Source: Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 0937 gmt 5 Apr 01.]

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