Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the highest and longest highlands railroad in the world. Its grand opening was held on July 1, 2006. The total length of its 1956 kilometers, an average elevation of over 4,000 meters above sea level. Today, you will learn many interesting details about the construction of this unique railway to Tibet.
In the early 1920s, the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen in his program "Plan for Reconstruction of China" offered to build the country's approximately 100 000 kilometers of new railways, which included the line and on the Tibetan Plateau. For objective reasons, the idea of "father of the nation" were able to return only in 1950 when Chairman Mao. The project of the railway to the Tibetan capital Lhasa, was approved for 1960, but its construction was halted almost fifteen years - China hardly reaped the fruits of "the Great Leap Forward».
Only in 1974 the construction of the first section of the future highway from the capital of Qinghai Province, Xining to Golmud city is already on the Tibetan Plateau, has resumed. 814 kilometers of railway by the army and the prison was built in the five years to 1979, but passenger traffic was opened here only in 1984.
Work on the second, high-altitude, site to Lhasa has been associated with engineering tasks particularly difficult: the builders had to work in the permafrost conditions, lack of oxygen and, moreover, the unique Tibetan ecosystem, preservation of which was announced the Chinese party and government of paramount importance.
Only in the beginning of the XXI century, the country reached the level of technological readiness, allowed to start the implementation of major infrastructure projects. Moreover, the construction of the railroad to Lhasa has become a key stage of the program of development of western China, the purpose of which is to eliminate disparities in the development of the eastern and western regions of the country. Another important, and perhaps the main object of the PRC government would strengthen relations is Tibetan autonomy, control of which was re-established only in 1950, with the main Chinese territory.
According to the project, approved in 2000, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, the total length of the new railway was to be 1142 kilometers. On this site it was organized by 45 stations, 38 of which were automatic, unattended. Tibet Railway from Golmud rose to a height of 2800 meters above sea level to pass Tanggula Pass (5072 meters) and then back down to Lhasa (3642 meters).
The end terminal in Lhasa.
About 80% of the new section (960 kilometers) passes through rugged mountainous areas at an altitude of over 4,000 meters above sea level, of which about 550 km is situated in the permafrost.
Construction of the railway there was a serious engineering problem. The fact that the upper layer of permafrost has a property in a short summer thaw, sometimes turning into impassable swamp. In this regard, the real threat is the progress of the soil, which could lead to the deformation and destruction of the way. In order to eliminate this risk, the designers of the Qinghai-Tibet road developed a special scheme of its device actually isolating any influence line on the environment and vice versa.
The rails were placed on a special mound of rubble, covered sand layer. The lateral projection embankment through a network of perforated pipes to ensure better ventilation it, and its slopes are closed with special metal sheets reflect sunlight and thus further hinder her heat. On some sections arranged also well filled with liquid nitrogen. All these activities are actually frozen embankment under the road, preventing the heating of the upper layer of permafrost and its thawing and subsequent deformation of the railroad tracks.
To compensate for height differences in the areas of building a significant part of pipeline laid on trestles. A total of 1142 kilometers it arranged 675 bridges with a total length of 160 kilometers. Supports these platforms are essentially piles, the bases of which lie deep in the permafrost, making her seasonal thawing of the upper layers have no effect on the stability of the building structure. The gaps between the pillars-pillars do not impede the free circulation of air under them, which minimizes additional heat effect of the railway.
In addition to the technical component, an important advantage of elevated areas is the fact that they do not impede the free movement of a unique trunk sometimes the local fauna. The negative effect of foreign bodies in the Tibetan ecosystem is reduced, so to a minimum.
Lots Qinghai-Tibet road, laid on the mound on the surface of the land, fenced throughout their length, and for migrating animals move regularly laid special tunnels and bridges are built.
After the completion of Tibet highway has established several records of railway construction. At 350 kilometers from Golmud at a height of 4900 meters above sea level, it was built by the highest mountain railway tunnel in the world, dubbed Fenghuoshan (Windy volcanic tunnel).
The station is Tanggula Pass on the eponymous mountain pass was the most mountainous of the railway station in the world. Mountains surround it seem more hills, but it is misleading. In fact, three-way Tanggula Pass located at an altitude of 5068 meters just four meters below the highest point of the whole line (5072 meters).
Although here and stop the train, in fact it's just a passing point on the single-track line. The station is fully automatic and operated from Xining, where is located the central management of the entire road. No settlements are not near, which, however, did not prevent the Chinese to build a fairly large station, station-worthy champion.
In most cases there is not even open the doors of the cars. To an untrained person to be at a height where the atmospheric pressure is only about 35-40% of the standard sea level, is a threat to health.
To journey through mountainous areas with their stunning scenery afforded passengers a pleasure for the Qinghai-Tibet road has been developed special rolling stock. The American corporation General Electric designed for highway diesel NJ2, modified for operation in high altitude, capacity 5100 liters. from. each. Locomotives capable of speeds up to 120 km / h with the composition of 15 wagons. In areas of permafrost their speed is limited to 100 km / h.
Cars for maintenance of the road were built in Chinese Canadian group Bombardier plant in the amount of 361 pieces (308 standard and 53 special tourism). All are virtually hermetically isolated from the environment inside the oxygen pressure is maintained close to the standard.
Despite this, bouts of altitude sickness caused by lack of oxygen, the passengers in case. To prevent them every place in cars fitted with individual oxygen tube on the model of the hospital. Tinted windows of cars with a special coating to protect passengers from excessive solar radiation, again typical of high mountains.
Standard cars are divided into the usual and we are three categories: sedentary, reserved seats and a coupe. In addition, the trains have dining cars.
The capacity of the pipeline is eight pairs of passenger trains per day (not including freight). Currently, Lhasa is linked to regular passenger traffic not only from the neighboring "regional" center of Xining, but also with the country's largest cities - Beijing and Shanghai. In a way express Beijing - Lhasa is 44 hours. Ticket prices depending on the class range from $ 125 (reserved seat) to $ 200 (coupe).
Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway began in 2001. About 20 000 workers at the same time started laying pipeline from both endpoints (Golmud and Lhasa), handled the task of the party responsible for only five years, spending $ 3, 68 billion dollars. According to official figures, while no one was killed, even though the long-term work is not the most comfortable conditions for this.
In seven years of operation on the road it was transported over 63 million passengers and 300 million tons of cargo. Annual passenger turnover increased to 6, 5 million people in 2006, when the pipe was put into operation, up to 11 million people in 2012, the annual turnover has increased from 25 million tons in 2006 to 56 million tons in 2012. Already it is clear that the new railway has significantly increased the economic development of Tibet and the neighboring province of Qinghai.
Significantly reduce the cost of delivery of goods to Tibet, including especially valuable in the mountains of energy. A new impetus to the development of the tourism industry, and received, although still just anyone who wants to leave, for example, Beijing to Lhasa train will not turn. To visit Tibet, the Chinese government as the above requires a special permit, without which the train you just will not plant.
Skeptics believe Qinghai-Tibet Railway is only another step in the gradual colonization of the Chinese distinctive autonomous region and the locomotive of development of its natural resources. Geologists have discovered in the highlands of Tibet deposits of copper, lead and zinc raw materials, it is necessary rapidly growing Chinese industry. Environmentalists, of course, fear that the presence in the territory of modern railway only spur the Chinese government for the speedy development of these fields, with unpredictable consequences for the fragile ecosystem of the region.
However, while it is only unsubstantiated fears. But it is difficult to deny the popularity of the road among the Tibetans who have received the ability to easily and quickly get to the highly developed eastern regions of the country, especially among tourists, whose backbone is a great attraction created with typical Chinese stubbornness literally turn off the mountains.