Qinhai - Tibet Railway

China today launched the first-ever passenger trains to and from Tibet on the world's highest railway, an event described by President Hu Jintao as a "great miracle" and "another magnificent" achievement in the communist nation's march towards modernization.

Hu, also general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China, attended the launch ceremony of the Qinghai-Tibet railway in Golmud city in Northwest China's Qinghai province.

He said that the opening to traffic of the Qinghai-Tibet railway is "another magnificent accomplishment we have achieved in our socialist modernization drive."

Construction of Qinghai-Tibet railroad is a long-cherished dream of generations of Chinese people. "The project is not only a magnificent feat in China's history of railway construction, but is also a great miracle of world's railroad history," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway stretches from Xining, capital of Qinghai province, to Lhasa. The section of 814 km from Xining to Golmud began operation in 1984 and the Golmud-Lhasa section started construction on June 29, 2001.

With 1,142 km section of the railway between Golmud and Lhasa running along Kunlun and Tanggula mountains, 960 km of the railway will be above 4,000 meters, with highest point at 5,072 meters, at least 200 meters higher than Peruvian railway in the Andes, formerly the world's most elevated track.

About USD 3.68 billion had been spent on the Golmud-Lhasa section which runs 1,142 kilometers.

The railway is the world's highest and longest plateau railroad and also the first railway connecting the Tibet autonomous region with the rest of China.

Qinhai-Tibet Railway

Map of the 695-mile Qinhai-Tibet Railway