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Qinghai-Tibet railway to extend further

September 11, 2007

Tibet plans to start building a branch line for theQinghai-TibetRailway this year, which will link the regionscapital Lhasa withXigaze, a major Tibetan city some 280 kilometersto itssouthwest.

Jin Shixun, director of the regional development andreformcommission said Sunday that the new line will be the firstfeederline for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

Jin told a session of the regional legislative body thatthegovernment is racing against time in its pretions so thattheconstruction work could be kicked off as soon as possible.

If everything goes well, the authorities hope that thefeasibilitystudy could be completed by the end of January, and thepreliminarydesign by the end of May, while the actual constructioncould bestarted within the year.

According to the current plan, the railway is expectedtooperational by 2010.

Tibet ended its history without railway in July 2006 withtheoperation of the 1,956-km Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The railwayhasprompted a huge surge in the number of tourists to Tibet,bringingthe region billions of yuan in tourism revenue.

Liu Zhijun, Chinas railway minister, said on Friday thattherailway had transported 1.18 million passengers and 1.16milliontons of cargo since then.

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