Ti­bet to in­vest 33 bil­lion yuan in up­grad­ing trans­port sys­tems

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By PALDEN NYIMA and DA QIONG in Lhasa Con­tact the writ­ers at palden_ny­ima@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

More than 20 new high­ways will be built in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion next year, with a to­tal in­vest­ment of more than 33 bil­lion yuan ($5 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to a se­nior trans­porta­tion of­fi­cial.

In­cluded in the plans are new routes from Lhasa to Nakqu; Dege to Qamdo; Qamdo to Jaka; Lhasa to Xigaze Air­port; and Gongkar Air­port to Tsethang as well as the Nyima-Aso sec­tion of Na­tional High­way 317.

GeYu­tao, head of the re­gional trans­porta­tion au­thor­ity, said more than 54 bil­lion yuan in State funds and loans were spent on Ti­bet’s trans­port in­fras­truc­ture this year.

“The to­tal length of roads has reached 82,000 kilo­me­ters, and it’s ex­pected to reach 89,000 km next year,” he said last week dur­ing the ninth re­gional Party con­gress. “Next year, we will fin­ish con­struct­ing 864 km of high­ways and 5,500 km of ru­ral roads, and re­con­struct 4,310kmof na­tional and provin­cial trunk high­ways.”

The au­thor­ity said the re­gion aims to spend 15 bil­lion yuan in State fund­ing and 40 bil­lion yuan in bank loans next year on im­prov­ing Ti­bet’s trans­porta­tion net­work.

Wu Yingjie, the au­ton­o­mous re­gion’s Party chief, high­lighted planned im­prove­ments to road, rail and avi­a­tion net­works over the next five years when de­liv­er­ing a con­gress work re­port on Nov 15.

Ti­bet will speed up con­struc­tion of its se­cond “Sky Road”, the Sichuan-Ti­bet Rail­way, dur­ing the 13th Five- Year Plan (2016-20) pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to the work re­port.

Stretch­ing 1,838 km, the rail­way will run from Chengdu, cap­i­tal of Sichuan province, to Lhasa, cap­i­tal of Ti­bet. It comes af­ter the first “Sky Road”, the Qing­hai-Ti­bet Rail­way, went into full ser­vice in 2006.

Con­struc­tion of the new line’s first sec­tion, from Chengdu to Ya’an, be­gan in 2014, while the se­cond sec­tion, from Lhasa to Ny­ingchi, be­gan con­struc­tion in 2014.

“The sec­tion in­side Ti­bet is ex­pected to be fin­ished by 2020,” Wu said, adding that pre­lim­i­nary work on the Yun­nan-Ti­bet Rail­way and flights be­tween Ngari and Pu­rung, in the re­gion’s Ngari pre­fec­ture, will get un­der­way in the next five years.

Ti­bet has plans to build air­ports in densely populated and de­vel­oped cities and pre­fec­tures, ac­cord­ing to the work re­port.

“The progress of an elab­o­rate trans­porta­tion sys­tem of high­ways, rail­ways and air routes in the com­ing years will lay a foun­da­tion for Ti­bet to blend in with the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive,” Wu said, re­fer­ring to China’s plan to im­prove global con­nec­tiv­ity.

The re­port said Ti­bet has wit­nessed rapid de­vel­op­ment in trans­porta­tion con­struc­tion in the past five years, with the to­tal length of the high­ways in­creas­ing by 33 per­cent. In that time, the 300km Lhasa-Ny­ingchi High­way was com­pleted, the Qing­hai-Ti­bet Rail­way was ex­panded and the Lhasa-Xigaze Rail­way went fully op­er­a­tional.

Xu Ance, an engi­neer with Qing­hai-Ti­bet Rail­way Co, said the line has led to a boom in the re­gion’s so­cial eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“Over the past 10 years, the num­ber of tourists vis­it­ing Ti­bet has in­creased ev­ery year, while our pas­sen­ger and cargo flow has grown an­nu­ally, too,” Xu said, adding that the line has made trans­port­ing ba­sic goods, coal, ce­ment and con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als far more con­ve­nient.

CAO NING / XIN­HUA

A worker drills a tun­nel for the Lhasa-Ny­ingchi sec­tion of the SichuanTi­bet Rail­way in March. The sec­tion is ex­pected to be fin­ished by 2020.

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