Hi­malayan rail route en­dorsed

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By HOU LIQIANG and CUI JIA in Bei­jing

A Hi­malayan train ride at more than 100 kilo­me­ters per hour at the foot of the world’s high­est snow-capped moun­tains and old­est glaciers is no longer just a dream, Chi­nese rail­way ex­perts say.

With more than 19,000 km of high-speed — up to 350 km per hour — rail­ways, China has ac­cu­mu­lated the tech­nol­ogy and ex­pe­ri­ence to build a rail link be­tween the Ti­bet antony­mous re­gion and the South Asian sub­con­ti­nent, they say.

The Hi­malayan rail­way would start from Xigaze, a city in Ti­bet, run to Gyirong, a land port on the Chi­nese bor­der, and ex­tend into Nepal, al­though it would not be a high-speed rail­way, the re­searchers said on Thurs­day at a fo­rum in Bei­jing run by the China Ti­betol­ogy Re­search Cen­ter, a Ti­betan stud­ies or­ga­ni­za­tion.

In 2006, China built a rail­way run­ning for more than 1,100 km to con­nect the high­land re­gion of Ti­bet with the rest of the coun­try. In 2014, it built a 250-km rail link be­tween Lhasa, the Ti­bet re­gional cap­i­tal, and Xigaze, the re­gion’s sec­ond-largest city.

Trains run at 100 km per hour through­out the Ti­betan rail sys­tem, which ac­cord­ing to China’s rail­way plan for 2016 to 2020, will stretch from Xigaze to Gyirong.

Nepal hopes that China can con­nect this port with Kathmandu, the Nepalese cap­i­tal, as part of the China-Nepal in­ter­na­tional rail­way.

China hopes the rail link will boost eco­nomic, cul­tural and re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Nepal as part of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

“The con­struc­tion of a rail­way cross­ing the Hi­malayan moun­tains is now eco­nom­i­cally and tech­no­log­i­cally fea­si­ble,” said Zong Gang, deputy di­rec­tor of the Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Depart­ment at Bei­jing Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy.

The al­ti­tude at Gyirong port is 2,800 me­ters above sea level, while the Gyirong moun­tain pass to Nepal lies at about 1,800 me­ters, mak­ing the rail­way ge­o­graph­i­cally fea­si­ble.

In con­trast, Lhasa is about 3,700 me­ters above sea level and the al­ti­tude at Xigaze is about 3,800 me­ters.

Losang Jamcan, chair­man of the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion gov­ern­ment, said on July 1 that build­ing rail links is the most pow­er­ful way to help Ti­bet open up to South Asian coun­tries.

Af­ter a meet­ing be­tween Premier Li Ke­qiang and Nepalese Prime Min­is­ter K. P. Sharma Oli in March, the two coun­tries said their gov­ern­ments will fur­ther dis­cuss con­struc­tion of a cross­bor­der rail­way and also sup­port com­pa­nies con­duct­ing pre­lim­i­nary re­search.

At least two Chi­nese com­pa­nies have shown an in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ing rail net­works con­nect­ing China with Nepal, the Kathmandu Post re­ported on July 2.

China CAMC En­gi­neer­ing Co has pro­posed build­ing a 121km rail­way link­ing Kathmandu and Ra­suwa­gadhi, a land port in Nepal fac­ing Gyirong.

A rail­way cross­ing the Hi­malayan moun­tains is now eco­nom­i­cally and tech­no­log­i­cally fea­si­ble.”

Zong Gang, deputy di­rec­tor, Bei­jing Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy

China Rail­way Con­struc­tion Corp has ap­plied to the Rail­way Depart­ment in Nepal for a Kathmandu-Ra­suwa­gadhi rail­way fea­si­bil­ity study.

Ma Jiali, a re­searcher at the China In­sti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said a trans-Hi­malayan rail­way would be of great eco­nomic value as it could later con­nect China, the largest econ­omy in Asia, with In­dia, the con­ti­nent’s third-largest econ­omy.

He said that land­locked Nepal is will­ing to have a more con­ve­nient link to China be­cause it will of­fer great op­por­tu­ni­ties for Nepal.

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