On September 18, 2005, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway rail reached Lhasa West Railway Station, which signifies the final completion of over 4 years of construction is just around the corner.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, starts from Xingning, capital of Qinghai province and ends at Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is expected to be completed this October when the rail reaches Lhasa Railway Station. After completion, it will be the longest railway built on the highlands and most elevated one in the world.
The railway construction project is elaborately divided into two phases. The first phase covering 814 km from Xining to Gomuld had already been finished in 1979. The second one was started on June 2001 and aimed to connect Gomuld and Lhasa which stretches 1142 km. So far approximately 26.2 billion RMB has been invested in this project.
Development and natural protection has long been a contradictory topic. It is the same case in this project. At the very beginning of the Qinghai-Tibet railway project, environmentalists have been concerned with the impact of the railway on the natural life along the line. Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is home to a wide variety of unique flora and endangered fauna. Construction of the railway will inevitably affect their living environment, but great effort has been done to keep this impact to a minimum.
For years, Qinghai and Tibet have been regarded as one of the hardest accessible areas for tourists. In the past this remote miserable highland could only be accessible by expensive air travel or rough highway, which restrained many lovers of Tibet from experiencing this area. The construction of this railway will put an end of this situation. It will provide a much cheaper and convenient means of transportation for tourists. It will give train passengers a good opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery en route.