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World's Highest Railway Line Provides High Hopes of Tourism Boom

Stretching 1, 956 kilometers from Xining, Qinghai Province to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, the world's highest railway was completed on October 15, 2005. This is the first railway into Tibet – known as the "roof of the world."

Tourism Warming up Ahead of Railway Operations

A Beijing travel agency tour guide said that he had traveled to many places and countries but Tibet. According to him, his travel firm would arrange tours to the plateau soon with the operation of the rail link.

Similarly, to seize opportunities which result from the railway, China Comfort Travel Service established an office in Qinghai last April. Huang Yi, who manages the office, believes the railway provides a catalyst for tourism development.

He said: "Tourists will feel more comfortable and secure traveling by train. Beautiful scenery along the line and interesting Tibet folkway will be great attractions for visitors." The firm also plans to open an office in Tibet, he explained.

Five Cities First Beneficiaries

The Qinghai-Tibet railway links the Lianyungang-Lanzhou line in the south and the Eurasia Land Bridge in the north. The wonderful scenery along the line, for instances, the Tuotuo and Tongtian rivers, Tanggula Mountain and Hoh Xil Nature Reserve, provides superb sights and huge opportunities for photography and filming.

Railway service between Lhasa and five cities of Xining, Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Guangzhou will go into trial operation in July. It will take about 20 hours traveling from Xining, to Lhasa and around 48 hours from Beijing to Lhasa.

Running from Lhasa Station three branch lines will be constructed within three to five years which will link Lhasa to Nyingchi in the east, to Xigaze and Ngari in the west with the third linking Xigaze with Yadong.

Sightseeing platforms

Sightseeing platforms have been built at nine of the 34 stations along the Golmud-Lhasa section of the line. Travelers can get a good look at the imposing scenery and take photos on the 500m long and 1.25m high viewing platforms.

Along the route railway station buildings, their names and some tunnels embody the characteristics of Tibetan culture with strenuous efforts made to integrate the railway with the beautiful natural scenery.

On the train itself a full range of services are available. There's oxygen to alleviate altitude sickness, medical treatment is available, as well as a food and drink service and even entertainment.

In preparation for the expected big increase in tourist numbers in the coming years, Lhasa is busy building a range of support facilities. Three clusters of hotels have been formed: medium and top grade hotels around the Lhasa and Tibet Hotels, lower grade hotels near Bakor Street, and top of the range establishments close to Lhasa Bridge. Further medium and top grade hotels are planned around Lhasa Railway Station.

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