New Tibetan rail line a boost for region

Updated: 2014-08-16 08:29

By Daqiong in Lhasa and Zhao Lei in Beijing(China Daily)

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New Tibetan rail line a boost for region

A train takes a test run on the new line from Lhasa to Xigaze in the Tibet autonomous region on Friday. [Photo/Xinhua]

A modern railway linking the two largest cities in the Tibet autonomous region started operation on Saturday, and many Tibetans said the line will greatly improve their quality of life.

With an investment of 13.2 billion yuan ($2.1 billion), the 251-kilometer high-elevation railway, the second railroad in Tibet, will cut travel time between Lhasa, the regional capital, and Xigaze, the second-largest city in the region, from five hours (by bus) to about two hours.

Tickets for the new line became sought-after since going on sale on Thursday night. All seats on Saturday's service had been booked before 3 pm on Friday.

The first passenger train was expected to leave Lhasa for Xigaze at 9 am on Saturday.

A ticket for the trip from Lhasa to Xigaze costs 40.5 yuan, while the best seats are 175.5 yuan.

The line, which began construction in January 2011, has 14 stations and a maximum train speed of 120 km per hour. It will be capable of transporting more than 8.3 million metric tons of cargo each year.

The opening of the Lhasa-Xigaze railway will "consummate the rail network in Tibet, reduce the region's heavy dependence on road transportation, boost social and economic development as well as improve the lives of those from all ethnic groups living along the line", said a statement from China Railway Corp, the national rail operator.

The new railway will enable travelers to