Train to Tibet

Qinghai-Tibet Railway

 

The Qingzang railway or Qinghai–Tibet railway is a high-altitude railway that connects Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, in China. 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. This railway is the first to connect China proper with the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is due to 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 the world's highest rail track. The 1,338 m Fenghuoshan Tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world, at 4,905m above sea level. The 3,345-meter Yangbajing Tunnel is the longest tunnel on the line. It is 4,264m above sea level, 80km northwest of Lhasa. More than 960km, or over 80% of the Golmud-Lhasa section, is at an altitude of more than 4,000m. There are 675 bridges, totaling 159.88km, and over half the length of the railway is laid on permafrost. In the Golmud to Lhasa part of the line, 45 stations are open, 38 of which are unstaffed, monitored in the control center in Xining. 13 more stations are planned.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway
 
The Trains
 

The trains are specially built for high altitude environment. The diesel locomotives used on Golmud-Lhasa section were made by GE in Pennsylvania , and the passenger carriages are Chinese-made 25T carriages: on train T27/T28, between Beijing West and Lhasa, BSP carriages are from Bombardier. Carriages used on the Golmud-Lhasa section are either deep green/yellow or deep red/yellow. Signs in the carriages are in Tibetan, Simplified Chinese and English. The operational speed is 120 km/h , 100 km/h in sections laid on permafrost. The railway opened to regular trial service on July 1, 2006. During the one-year trial period, three passenger trains ran from Beijing, Chengdu / Chongqing, and Xining / Lanzhou, numbered T27/T28, T22/T23/T24/T21, T222/T223/T224/T221, N917/N918, K917/K918, respectively.

A Passenger Health Registration Card is required to take the train. 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.

 

Trains Schedule for Reference
Train From / To Kilometers Departure / Arrival Duration
T27
T28
Beijing West - Lhasa
Lhasa - Beijing West
4064 21,30-17,30 (on the third day)
08,30-07,34 (on the third day)
44h
47h 4m
T22/23
T24/21
Chengdu – Lhasa
Lhasa - Chengdu
3360 20,59-16,40 (on the third day)
11,15- 07,57 (on the third day)
44h 19m
43h 18m
T164/165
T166/163
Shanghai - Lhasa
Lhasa - Shanghai
4373 19,52-19,54(on the third day)
10,00-11,53(on the third day)
48h 2m
49h 53m
T264/365
T266/263
Guangzhou - Lhasa
Lhasa - Guangzhou
4980 12,57-19,54 (on the third day)
10,00-18,08 (on the third day)
54h 57m
56h 8m

Scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway
 

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 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. Passing Tongtian River Bridge , the train goes into an area of gorges. The over 800km Tongtian River 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 to the high altitude at the site. Departing from the Tanggula Mountain Pass , the train enters Tibet Autonomous Region. The first district you go through is Nagqu in the northern part of Tibet. Then there 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. 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, the town located to 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. Then the train will cross the last mountain chain- Nyainqentanglha Mountains along the railway. At the west side of the railway, on the Dangxiong grasslands there are four peaks of more than 7,000-meter high. 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.

Yuzhu Peak Station
Yuzhu Peak Station
Chuma'er River Station
Chuma'er River Station
Tuotuo River Station
Tuotuo River Station
Buqiangge Station
Buqiangge Station
Tanggula Station
Tanggula Station
Conag Lake Station
Conag Lake Station
Nagqu Station
Nagqu Station
Damxung Station
Damxung Station
Lhasa Railway Station
Lhasa Railway Station
 
 

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