Second, the current route of the Xining to Lhasa rail line spans about 1,956 km. The new construction between Golmud to Lhasa stretches more than 1,000 km. Once this route is completed and extended to Xigaze, China plans to construct more railways from 2007 till 2038 from different parts of the country for more effective integration of Tibet.
These include the Chengdu to Lhasa route of 1,927 km, expected to cost about $9 billion; the Lhasa to Dali (Yunnan) route of 1,594 km, with an estimated cost of about $8 billion; and the Lanzhou to Lhasa route of 2,126 kilometres (about $8.5 billion).
In other words, Tibet is expected to receive immense Chinese investment in the coming decades, with drastic consequences for the Tibetan economy.
Three, the Tibetan railway took just about four years to complete, compared to the long time taken for similar construction in the region earlier. For instance, the Xining to Golmud line was completed from 1958 to 1984 in the Qaidam basin. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, a year after the project was launched. The railway to Urumqi was completed in 1960 and the Kashgar line (all in Xinjiang) by 1999.
Image: A Chinese family aboard the first train from Beijing to the Tibetan capital Lhasa.
Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Also See: China's train to roof of world