China’s New Tibetan Rail Tracks

The new railway from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to China’s border area has been up and running since last week. Photo: Xinhua

Tibet’s first fully electrified rail corridor extending from its capital Lhasa to the alpine region’s southwestern outpost of Nyingchi has been up and running since last week, a development that has likely contributed to an escalation of border tensions with India.

Chinese bullet trains will roar along the new link at 160 kilometers per hour less than 16 kilometers from the troubled and increasingly militarized Himalayan border region, according to a train dispatching and scheduling plan prepared by “China Railway Corp” (CRC) leaked over social media. 

The new line cuts through rugged snow-capped terrain and huge swathes of permafrost at an average elevation of about 3,000 meters. Beijing’s pedal-to-the-metal construction spree for Tibet also includes expanding the capacities of existing railway stations in Lhasa and Nyingchi. 

Travel times from Lhasa to the border city of Nyingchi, on the front line of the China-India military standoff and buildup, will be slashed from nine hours by road to about three hours. The rail artery runs in parallel with the Yaluzangbu River, the Chinese name of the Brahmaputra River in India that rises in Tibet.

Read more at China’s new Tibetan line tracks the Indian border

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