Qinghai-Tibet Railway: Pride of all Chinese

Foreigners only know that the Great Wall is the seventh wonder of the world, actually, modern Chinese construction is even more amazing. Recently, the world’s largest single aperture radio telescope, FAST, with a 500-meter-wide aperture, known as the “giant eye in the sky” has completed its main phase, with the whole project slated to finish by September of 2016. The radio telescope will be able to reveal more secrets of the universe. China has many projects like this radio telescope.

For example, there are the 130 thousand railroad workers working in the “forbidden zone of life” on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, with no past references, they have solved many technical problems such as building a railway through frozen soil, and achieved a miracle in human railway construction, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

Before the railway was built, it was incredibly difficult to travel between Tibet and inland China. In order to build this road to the plateau, the first plateau railway project in China began construction in 1958. It was the Qinghai-Tibet Railway’s first phase, Xining-Golmud. By May of 1984, the railway was completed and began operation. Phase two of the railway construction began in June 29th of 2001, and began operation on July 1st, 2006. 

During railway construction, soil frozen for thousands of years, the ecology, the lack of oxygen on the plateau, etc., all posed enormous technical challenges. A foreign travel writer once said, “As long as there’s the Kunlun Mountains, the railway could never reach Lhasa.” Other international experts have also said that given humans’ current technology, building a railway through Kunlun Mountains and Tanggula Mountains would take at least another 100 years. Photo shows construction designer solves the problem of frozen soil, and researches frost heaving.

Photo shows construction in northern Tibet.


The lack of oxygen and plateau syndrome are one of the hardest problems to overcome for the workers. Some young engineers have died on the job after arriving at the plateau. Photo shows one medical staff for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway gives oxygen to a worker.

The cold temperature is also very challenging. Photo shows construction workers add blankets to the bridge piers -- the Grand Qingshuihe Bridge.

During construction, backup support is also very important, and local residents were imperative in this respect. Photo shows cafeteria at the construction site.

The construction received great support from the Tibetan people. Photo shows shepherds thank the workers at the construction site.

Photo shows Tibetan residents hold their kids and observe railroad workers laying down cross-ties.

Even after the railway was completed, some workers remained on-site to maintain the “road to heaven.” They have persevered in their dedication. Photo shows railway maintenance staffers.


The railway’s completion not only reduced the distance between Tibet and inland China, it also provided opportunities for foreigners to visit Tibet. Photo shows foreign visitors say goodbye to their Chinese friends on the train.

The railway has made more things possible for the people of Tibet. They can take the train to visit inland China, conduct business, study and research, export labor, work in trade, etc. Photo shows the world outside the mountains.

July 1st, 2016, the 10th anniversary of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. In Tohlung Dechen County of Tibet, children waved at a moving train.

As Lhasa-Shigatse Railway and Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway also begin operation, the influence of China would be able to reach countries like Nepal. Photo shows the 11th Panchen Lama, takes the train to return to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse for the first time. Photo shows the Panchen Lama’s family on the train, December 1st, 2015.