Railway to Heaven: Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Qinghai-Tibet railway (or Qingzang railway), the world’s highest railway traveling across the “roof of the world”, was dubbed a “railway to Heaven” as it is the highest “engineering marvel” that links Tibet with the rest of China.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, 1,956 kilometers (about 1,215miles) long in total, starts from Xining in Qinghai in the east and ends in Lhasa in the west. It links with the Lianyungang-Lanzhou Railway in the south, and the Eurasian land Bridge in the north, via the Kunlun Mountains, the Tuotuo and Tongtian rivers, the Tanggula Mountains, the Yangbajain Canyon, Kekexili, the origin of the Jinsha, Lancang River and Nujiang River, and the Qangtang Nature Reserve in North Tibet. This railway is the first to connect China proper with the Tibet Autonomous Region, which due to its altitude and terrain is the last province-level entity in China to have a conventional railway.

The World Records of Qinghai-Tibet Railway

There were many technical difficulties for such a railway. About half of the line was built on barely permafrost. China has rewritten the world’s history of railway construction with its completion of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. Based on the information given by the Guinness Book of World Records, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway currently holds no less than eight world records.

The World’s Highest Railway – Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world’s highest railway. Around 960 kilometers of the tracks from Xining to Lhasa lie at altitudes above 4,000 meters. The highest point of the railway lies at an altitude of 5,072 meters, more than 200 meters higher than the Peruvian railway in the Andes, which was formerly the world’s highest track.

The World’s Longest Plateau Railroad – The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, with a total length of 1,956 kilometers, is the world’s longest plateau railroad. The section from Golmud to Lhasa, stretching for an amazing 1,142 kilometers, zigzags its way across the vast Tibetan plateau and goes across both the Kunlun and Tanggula Mountains.

The World’s Longest Track in Permafrost Area – More than 550 kilometers of this amazing railway was built in permafrost area, more than any other plateau railway on the planet.

The World’s Highest Railway Station – At an altitude of 5,068 meters above sea level, the Tanggula Railway Station, 600 kilometers away from Lhasa, is the highest railway station on the planet. The station is located just before the famous Tanggula Pass, the highest point of the entire railway, which make it a most suitable place for passengers to appreciate the scenery of the Tanggula Mountain and take pictures. It is hoped that the Tanggula railway station will thus become one of the best scenic spots along the Qinghai-Tibet rail line.

Tanggula Railway Station

The World’s Highest Railway Tunnel – Fenghuoshan Tunnel, with an elevation of 4,905 meters, total length of 1,338 meters, is considered to be the world’s highest tunnel in a permafrost area.

Fenghuoshan Tunnel

The World’s Longest Plateau Tunnel – The Kunlun Mountain Tunnel, stretching for a total length of 1,686 meters, takes the title of the longest plateau tunnel in the world. The tunnel bores through the massive Kunlun Mountain Range in Qinghai Province, and is also the longest tunnel built through permafrost area.

Kunlun Mountain Tunnel

The World’s Longest Plateau Railway Bridge – Qingshui River Bridge lies at an average altitude of 4,500 meters and crosses the unpopulated area of the Hoh Xil Nature Preserve. Stretching out for a total length of 11.7 kilometers, Qingshui River Bridge is no doubt the longest railway bridge in permafrost area.

Qingshui River Bridge

The World’s Fastest Train in Permafrost Area – Upon its completion, the maximum train speed is designed to reach 100 kilometers per hour on the frozen ground and 120-140 kilometers per hour on non-frozen earth. Set as their maximum speed when traveling over the permafrost area, no other plateau railroad in the world has been able to reach such speeds.

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