Know Before You Go
Tibet Travel Guide
Qinghai Tibet Railway – the world's highest railway
The Qinghai–Tibet railway or Qingzang railway is a high-altitude railway on the Qinghai Tibet Plateau that connects Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, in China. It is the first railway ever to go to Tibet. See below the detailed map of Qinghai Tibet Railway.
Construction, Length & Extension
The Qinghai-Tibet railway starts at Xining West Railway Station and ends at Lhasa Railway Station, with a total length of 1956 km.
Construction of the 814 km section between Xining and Golmud was completed by 1984. The remaining 1142-km section between Golmud and Lhasa was completed on 12 October 2005 and opened to regular trial service on 1 July 2006. The second section was completed in five years and is considered an extraordinary feat of modern engineering, for over 80% of the section is at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres and about 550 km of the railway is laid on permafrost. Geothermal monitoring system, automatic permafrost monitoring stations and automatic weather monitoring stations are under construction to guarantee the safe operation of the Qinghai-Tibet railway line.
Because of the extreme temperatures and unstable permafrost on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, long sections of track have been elevated to improve stability.
The railway will be extended to other remote area of Tibet, from Lhasa to Zhangmu via Shigatse to the west, and Dali via Nyingchi to the east, which is planned to be completed and put into operation before 2020.
Trains, Tickets, Stations & Attractions on the way
Currently there are trains running on the Qinghai-Tibet Railroad from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xining and Lanzhou. Apart from hard seat tickets, there are soft seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper tickets. A Passenger Health Registration Card is required to take the train between Golmud to Lhasa. The card can be obtained when purchasing the ticket. Passengers must read the health notice for high-altitude travel and sign the agreement on the card to take the train. Click for the Tibet Train Schedules & Fares.
The trains are specially built for high altitude travel. The carriages between Golmud and Lhasa are specially built, with an oxygen supply for each passenger and UV filters on the windows to cut the glare in the thin air. The operational speed is 120 km/h, 100 km/h over sections laid on permafrost. Signs in the carriages are in Tibetan, Simplified Chinese and English. Staffs on the trains know basic knowledge on high altitude sickness and can speak some English.
The Qinghai-Tibet railway has been built through some of the most difficult terrain on earth, on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Currently, there are 45 stations along the Golmud to Lhasa section, among which the Tanggula Mountain railway station at 5,072 m is the world's highest railway station.
Scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet railway is stunningly beautiful, with vast grasslands, crystal clear alpine lakes, deep gorges, snow-capped mountains and much more.
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