Sichuan-Tibet Railway: The shortest train route to Tibet

Following Qinghai-Tibet railway, Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway to Tibet after it’s completed by the year of 2030. 

Once completed, it will be the shortest train route to Tibet, which just takes about 13 hours. Currently, the shortest train journey to Tibet is from Xining to Lhasa through the Qinghai Tibet Railway, which takes about 22 hours. It takes over 40 hours from Beijing to Lhasa by train, and nearly 50 hours from Shanghai to Lhasa. The longest journey to Tibet by train from Guangzhou even takes more than 50 hours. Among all the major cities which operate trains to Tibet, Chengdu is the nearest one to Lhasa. However, it still takes about 42 hours to get to Tibet by train from Chengdu. The train T22, the only train from Chengdu to Lhasa, passes by the Baoji-Chengdu railway line, runs west to Lanzhou, and follows the Qinghai-Tibet railway after Xining. The total distance is about 3,360 kilometers. Once the Sichuan-Tibet railway completes, this new-built rail line, which is only 1,629 kilometers’ long, will shorten the travel time to less than 15 hours.

Covering a distance of 1,629 kilometers, the Sichuan-Tibet railway consists of three sections from east to west, including Chegndu-Kangting, Kangting-Nyingchi and Nyingchi-Lhasa. About 979 kilometers of the railway will be built in Tibet and the other 650 kilometers of it will be in Sichuan. The constructions from both sides towards the middle section have begun since 2015, and the whole project is expected to be completed in 2030.

Crossing through Sichuan Basin and west to Tibetan Plateau, the new railway from Chengdu to Lhasa will cross many fault zones. The complicated terrain and topography in Southwest China and the designed service life of 100 years make it one of the most difficult railway projects on earth. 

It will not only be an engineering marvel of the world, but also a great contribution to improve the living standard of the local people. Over 3 million people would benefit from this project. Since it will be more convenient to travel Tibet by train from China mainland, the boost of tourism will bring tangible revenue to the local.