CHINA: The first electrified railway in Tibet was inaugurated on June 25, with ceremonies in Lhasa to mark the start of operations on the Lhasa – Nyingchi section of the Sichuan - Tibet railway.


Diverging at Xierong from the Lhasa – Xigatse line opened in August 2014, the new line runs for 404·8 km to Nyingchi, also known as Linzhi, around 15 km from the border between the Tibet Autonomous Region and India. 


Branded as the Lalin line, the single-track route initially serves nine stations: Gongga, Zhanang, Shannan, Sangri, Gacha, Lang, Milin, Gangga and Nyingchi. There are also eight intermediate passing loops, and the plans envisage the construction of a further 17 stations. The route broadly follows the Yarlung Tsangpo, the upper reaches of the River Brahmaputra.


The line has been laid out for 160 km/h operation, with trains covering the 435·5 km between Lhasa and Nyingchi in 3 h 30 min. China Railways is initially providing three D category trains in each direction, operated by CR200JS-G electro-diesel trainsets. The nominal freight capacity of the route is put at 10 million tonnes per year.


Work on the project had been expected to start in September 2014, but the feasibility study was not approved by the National Development & Reform Commission until the following month, along with a total budget of 36·6bn yuan, including 1·6bn for land acquisition and 620m yuan for rolling stock. Construction officially began on December 19 2014.


Running for 90% of its length at more than 3 000 m above sea level, the Lhasa – Nyingchi line has 47 tunnels and 121 bridges, including 16 crossings of the Yarlung Tsangpo river. The tunnels and bridges account for approximately 75% of the total route length, with six the six main bores ranging from 11·5 km to 17·3 km in length. The Mingze bridge is 3 376 m long, while the main steel tube arch of the Zangmu bridge spans 430 m.