Tibet railway to boost logistical support

China's high-altitude railway line to Tibet, which opened four years ago, has begun to be used as a supply-line to enhance the mobilisation capabilities of China's Air Force in the region, State media reported this week.

The railway line, which runs from Qinghai province to Lhasa in Tibet, is the world's highest railway, running at an altitude of 5000 metres.

The line was opened in July 2006, with a view to boosting economic development in Tibet and enhancing the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) mobilisation capabilities. The railway has mainly been used to ferry tourists and businesspeople from other provinces to Tibet.

But the PLA has, since this summer, begun transporting “combat-readiness materials” through the railway, the official PLA Daily reported this week.

“In mid-summer, a train loaded with important combat readiness materials for the Air Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLAAF) got to the destination safely,” it said, adding that was the first time that the railway had been used to boost logistical support for the PLAAF.

The newspaper, which is the PLA's official media outlet, said the railway line would significantly enhance transportation capabilities, particularly to supply the PLAAF's air bases and air-strips in the region with combat readiness materials.

An unnamed official of the PLAAF's Logistics Department told the PLA Daily that this new avenue to supply logistics “symbolised a new improvement of the military transportation capacity of the PLAAF in combat support.”

Given the high altitude, the PLAAF has begun training transport security personnel to help them combat altitude sickness, the PLA Daily said. To ensure the supply line's security, personnel would “examine the safety state of the train” at every stop along the rail route.

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