Recently, China completed a project that was a dream since the 1950s, after the Chinese government invaded the Tibetan Autonomous Region, but due to lack of funds and technology impediments, the project was postponed.
Connecting Xining, Qinghai Provence to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, the Qingzang Railway holds three World titles: World’s Highest Railway Station, World’s Highest Railway Tunnel (4,905 m above sea level: the Fenghuoshan tunnel) and the World’s Longest High Altitude Train (960 km of rail - from a total of 1956 km - is 'highly-placed' at over 4,000 m above sea level).
The Qingzang Railway is today's the word's highest rail track, reaching 5,072 m (16,640 feet) above sea level at Tanggula Pass. But that's not everything that makes this rail an impressive achievement: about a half the length of the track is built on permafrost: a soil at or below the freezing point of water. During the summer months, permafrost melts, so the engineers had to place a series of hollow tubes in order to circulate liquid nitrogen into the raid bed, keeping it permanently frozen. At 4,000 m you might easily get altitude sickness, so the train provides passengers with oxygen.
This project was completed in only 5 years, stretching over 1,142 km in the word's highest plateau, crossing 675 bridges, at a cost of about $3.68 billion dollars to built.
Although we must admit this is an impressive work, may we not forget the political, economical and cultural consequences connecting modern China to traditional Tibet will have. Trying to modernize Tibet by flooding it with Chinese workers and curious tourist will soon ruin the well-preserved culture of the Tibetans. But it's too late for second thoughts. The Quinzang Railway is functional, breathtaking and ready to offer you a high-class experience on the roof of the world.
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