Tibet gets first bullet train, links Lhasa to border with India

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway into Tibet after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. (Photo for representation.) | Photo Credit: REUTERS
Ananth Krishnan 25 June 2021 09:11 IST
Updated: 25 June 2021 19:42 IST

This will be the second railway line connecting Tibet to the hinterland, following the already open Qinghai-Tibet rail.

China on Friday started operating the first bullet train line in Tibet, linking Lhasa to Nyingchi near the border with Arunachal Pradesh.

The China State Railway Group said the 435-km line, on which construction began in 2014, has a designed speed of 160 kilometres per hour and would connect the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region to the border city of Nyingchi with a travel time of three and a half hours.

Over 90% of the track is 3000 metres above sea-level, state media quoted the railway group as saying, and the line is the first electrified high speed rail (HSR) line, as China refers to bullet trains, in Tibet. China has the world’s longest HSR network.


The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail is one among several major infrastructure projects recently completed in Tibet’s southern and southeastern counties near the Arunachal border. Last month, China completed construction of a strategically significant highway through the Grand Canyon of the Yarlung Zangbo river, as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet. This is the “second significant passageway” to Medog county that borders Arunachal, the official Xinhua news agency reported, directly connecting the Pad township in Nyingchi to Baibung in Medog county.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail is one section of the Sichuan-Tibet railway line connecting the two provincial capitals, another strategic project deemed important enough for President Xi Jinping to officially launch it and described by the Chinese leader as “a major step in safeguarding national unity and a significant move in promoting economic and social development of the western region.” This will be the second railway line connecting Tibet to the hinterland, following the already open Qinghai-Tibet rail.

The first section of the new line, from Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, to Yaan, was finished in December 2018, while work on the 1,011 km Yaan-Nyingchi line will compete the entire railway line by 2030.

Zhu Weiqun, a senior Party official formerly in charge of Tibet policy, was quoted as saying by state media the railway will help "transport advanced equipment and technologies from the rest of China to Tibet and bring local products out”. "If a scenario of a crisis happens at the border,” he said, "the railway can act as a 'fast track' for the delivery of strategic materials."