Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world’s highest and longest high plateau railway, and is reputed as the "Heaven Road”. It starts from Xining City in Qinghai and ends at Lhasa in Tibet, extending 1956 km.

Brief Introduction of Qinghai-Tibet Railway


• Type: Passenger train, freight train
• Operating Time: 

First-stage Project: July 30, 1984, Xining-Golmud;
Second-stage Project: July 1, 2006, Golmud-Lhasa

• Length: 1956 km
• Number of Stations: 85
• Main Stations: Xining Railway Station, Golmud Railway Station, Lhasa Railway Station
• Operating Organization: The Ministry of Railways - the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company in People’s Republic of China



Qinghai-Tibet Railway or Qingzang railway starts from Xining, Qinghai, runs westward to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, passing through Nachitai, Wudao Liang, Tuotuo River, Yanshiping, over the Tanggula Mountains, via Tibet Amdo, Nagqu, Dangxiong, Yangbajin to Lhasa, it is the most important way to get into Tibet.

Along the railway, the section built on the altitude above 4,000 meters is about 960 km long, and the section of the railway on permafrost is 550 km. The highest point of the railway on Tanggula Mountain is 5072 meters above sea level. Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world's highest and longest plateau railway.

 
Most parts of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway are located on the high altitude areas and the depopulated zones. It must overcome four problems, the permafrost, high altitude, ecologically fragile, bad weather. Until March 25th, 2006, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway project have got a total investment of 28.5 billion yuan, of which environmental projects for investment reached 1.2 billion yuan, which is quite rare among the individual projects for environmental protection in the world.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The total length of Qingzang railway is 1,956 km. Construction of the 815km section between Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province and Golmud was completed by 1984. The 1,142 km section between Golmud and Lhasa was inaugurated on 1 July 2006. The first two passenger trains were ‘Qing 1' (Q1) from Golmud to Lhasa, and ‘Zang 2' (J2) from Lhasa to Golmud. This railway is the first one to connect China proper with the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is for the reason of Tibet's altitude and terrain. Testing of the line and equipment started on 1 May 2006. Trains run from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining and Lanzhou. The line includes the Tanggula Pass, at 5,072m (16,640 feet) above sea level, is the world's highest rail track. While the 1,338 m Fenghuoshan Tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world, which is at 4,905m above sea level. The 3,345-meter Yangbajing Tunnel is the longest tunnel on the line, which is about 4,264m above sea level, 80km northwest of Lhasa. there are more than 960km, or over 80% of the Golmud-Lhasa section stay at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters. Also, there are 675 bridges, the length is around 159.88km, and more than half the length of the railway is laid on permafrost. In the Golmud to Lhasa part of the line, 45 stations are open, and there are about 38 stations are unstaffed, which are monitored in the control center in Xining. There are 13 more stations are still planned.

 

Reputations of Qinghai-Tibet Railway


• World’s Highest Railway 
Along the railway, the section built on the altitude above 4,000 meters is 960 km. The highest point of the railway on Tanggula Mountain is 5072 meters above sea level. 
 
• World's Highest Tunnel on Permafrost
The Fenghuoshan tunnel is located on Fenghuoshan Mountain with an altitude of 5010 meters above sea level. This section is totally 1338 meters long. The elevation of track surface is 4905 meters above sea level, all located within a permanent plateau permafrost. It is currently the world's highest  permafrost tunnel across the permafrost zone on plateau.
 
• World's Longest Plateau Permafrost Tunnel
With the length of 1686 meters, and 4648 meters above sea level, Kunlun Mountain Tunnel is  the world's longest plateau permafrost tunnel.
 
• World's Longest Railway Bridge
Qingshui River Bridge, with an altitude of over 4500 meters, is located at the Hoh Xil's depopulated zone. It is 11.7 km long, and it is the longest giant railway bridge along the Qinghai-Tibet railway.
 
• Word's Highest Railway Bridge
Qinghai-Tibet Railway’s highest railway bridge is located at the north ridge of Kunlun Mountains, 15 away from Nachitai. It is over 3800 meters above sea level.  
 
Qinghai-Tibet Railway

 

Main Stations on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway


Starting from Qinghai to Tibet, the main railway stations along Qinghai-Tibet Railway are:

Xining Station(西宁站) - Xining West Station(西宁西站) - Shuangzhai Station(双寨站) - Zhamalong Station(扎麻隆站) - Shiyazhuang Station(石崖庄站) - Huangyuan Station(湟源站) - Shenzhong Station(申中站) - Yuejiacun Station(岳家村站) - Haiyan Station(海晏站) - Huangcaozhuang Station(黄草庄站) - Ketu Station(克土站) - Qinghai Lake Station(青海湖站) - Tuole Station(托勒站) - Ha'ergai Station(哈尔盖站) - Gangcha Station(刚察站) - Niaodao Station(鸟岛站) - Jianghe Station(江河站) -Tianpeng Station(天棚站) - Lumang Station(鹿芒站) - Tianjun Station(天峻站) - Guanjiao Station(关角站) - Nanshan Station(南山站) - Erlang Station(二郎站) - Luobei Station(洛北站) - Chahannuo Station(察汗诺站) - Gaba Station(尕巴站)-Wulan Station(乌兰站)-Keke Station(柯柯站)-Taoli Station(陶力站)-Delingha Station(德令哈站) - Lianhu Station(连湖站) - Quanshuiliang Station(泉水梁站) -  Oulongshan Station(欧龙山站) - Yinmaxia Station(饮马峡站) - Xitieshan Station(锡铁山站) - Dabuxun Station(达布逊站) - Cha'erhan Station(查尔汗站) - Golmud East Station(格尔木东站) - Golmud Station(格尔木站) - Nanshankou Station(南山口站) - Ganlong Station(甘隆站) - Nachitai Station(纳赤台站) - Xiaonanchuan Station(小南川站) - Yuzhufeng Station(玉珠峰站) - Wangkun Station(望昆站) - Budongquan Station(不冻泉站) - Chuma’erhe Station(楚玛尔河站) - Kekexili Station(可可西里站) - Wudaoliang Station(五道梁站) - Xiushuihe Station(秀水河站) - Jiangkedong Station(江克栋站) - Fenghuoshan Station -(风火山站) - Ri'achiqu Station(日阿尺曲站) - Wuli Station(乌丽站) - Tuotuohe Station(沱沱河站) - Kaixinling Station(开心岭站) - Tongtianhe Station(通天河站) - Tanggang Station(塘岗站) - Yanshiping Station(雁石坪站) - Bumade Station(布玛德站) - Buqiangge Station(布强格站) - Tanggula North Station(唐古拉北站) - Tanggula Station(唐古拉站) - Tanggula South Station(唐古拉南站) - Zhajiazangbu Station(扎加藏布站) - Tuoju Station(托居站) - Anduo Station(安多站) - Cuonahu Station(错那湖站) - Liantonghe Station(联通河站) - Diwuma Station(底吾玛站) - Gangxiu Station(岗秀站) - Nagqu Station(那曲站) - Tuoru Station(妥如站) - Sangxiong Station(桑雄站) - Gulu Station(古露站) - Wumatang Station(乌玛塘站) - Dangxiong Station(当雄站) - Daqiongguo Station(达琼果站) - Yamgbalin Station(羊八林站) - Yangbajing Station(羊八井站) - Angga Station(昂嘎站) -Maxiang Station(马乡站) - Gurong Station(古荣站) - Lhasa West Station(拉萨西站) - Lhasa Station(拉萨站)

Lhasa Railway Station

Lhasa railway station is the largest station and also one of the landmark projects of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It is located at the south bank of the Lhasa River in Liuwu Village, Doilungdeqen County of Lhasa, with an altitude of 3600m above sea level. Lhasa Railway Station is the terminal station of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, and also the largest station for transport of both passengers and goods.
 Lhasa Railway Station

 

What to See along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway


Tanggula Mountains
As the train approaches Tanggula Mountain Station, the sixth station along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the line enters the Tibet section of the whole line. Continuing the journey to the south, the train enters the Tanggula Mountains. The physical features are not as striking as before, with a chain of mountains gently undulating in the distance.


Tongtian River
Passing Tongtian River Bridge, the train goes into an area of gorges. The Tongtian River, with the length of more than 800 km, is broad and slow flowing across the Tanggula and Kunlun mountains ranges. The train then runs deeper into Tanggula Mountains, stopping at Tanggula Station. With an altitude of 5,072m above sea level, it is the highest railway station in the world. The mountain is divided into eastern and western parts. The western part offers a cold, desert vista, while the eastern presents the views of shrub and grasslands. The pass is the natural boundary of Qinghai Province and Tibet Autonomous Region. The earth is under constant permafrost and the weather is unstable. Even in summer, the road here is often blocked by heavy snow. The oxygen content in the air is only 60% of that at sea level. Passengers will have some reaction due to the high altitude at the site.


Nagqu
Departing from the Tanggula Mountain Pass, the train enters Tibet Autonomous Region. The first district you will go through is Nagqu, in the northern part of Tibet. Then comes to the Northern Grassland. The summer scenery here is like a painting of blue sky, white clouds, rainbow, cows and sheep and green grass, which is really a good view along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
lakenla-pass
 
Namtso Lake
After Nagqu, the train comes to a vast piece of highland marsh. Here you can usually see scattered herdsmen huts, around which cows, sheep and horses are grazing. As more evidence of life appears along the line, the train approaches Dangxiong Town. The town is located at the east of Namtso Lake. Dangxiong means 'the selected grasslands' in the Tibetan language. It is a busy place making you feel like you are in Lhasa.

Namtso Lake in Tibet

Nyainqentanglha Mountains
Then the train will cross the last mountain chain- Nyainqentanglha Mountains along the railway. At the west side of the railway, there are four peaks of more than 7,000 meters high on the Dangxiong grasslands.

Yangbajing Town
Yangbajing Town is the eighth station on the line. Passing an alpine area of gorges, the train approaches Duilongdeqing County. Trees start to reappear, mostly are Tibetan willow. Next, the Lhasa River appears and the train is getting closer and closer to the final destination - Lhasa.