Future Sichuan-Tibet Railway could link Tibet with South Asian nations
Published: Jan 03, 2019 09:03 PM

Workers lay tracks on the Yarlung Zangbo River bridge of the Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway in Gonggar County of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Nov. 26, 2018. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway, which is expected to start construction in late 2019, is slated to be a major artery of transportation linking China with South Asian countries, such as Nepal and India.

The State-owned China Railway Corp (CRC) said on Wednesday it aims to complete a feasibility study of the railway by the end of the second quarter of 2019 and seek the approval from the central government in the third quarter.

It hopes to complete initial designs for key sections of the railway, such as tunnels and bridges and make sure they are ready for construction by the third quarter, according to a CRC statement sent to the Global Times.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway into Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It will go through the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the world's most geologically active areas.

Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday that the railway aims to drive the economy of the region and strengthen the link between Tibet with the inland.

It can help with the possibility of a railway connecting China and Nepal, which could be a major route for China to reach South Asia, Zhao said.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will start from Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, travelling through Ya'an and enter Tibet via Qamdo. It will then go through Nyingchi prefecture before arriving at Lhasa, capital of Tibet. The total construction length will be 1,700 kilometers and will cost 250 billion yuan ($36.88 billion), the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The completion of the railway will help shorten the journey from Chengdu to Lhasa from 48 hours to 13 hours.

The 140-kilometer Chengdu-Ya'an section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway officially started operations to 11 stations on December 28, 2018, media reported.