Sichuan–Tibet railway – Wikipedia

The Sichuan–Tibet railway, Sichuan–Xizang railway or Chuanzang railway (simplified Chinese: 川藏铁路; traditional Chinese: 川藏鐵路; pinyin: Chuānzàng Tiělù) is a high-elevation railway under construction that will connect Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, and Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.[8] The line will be 1,629 km (1,012 mi) long,[4][5] and cut travel time from Chengdu to Lhasa from 48 to 13 hours.[9]


The first segment to enter operation was from Chengdu–Ya’an on 28 December 2018.[2] The second segment to enter operation, from Nyingchi–Lhasa, opened on 25 June 2021.[10][11][12] The final Ya’an–Nyingchi segment is expected to complete in 2030.[1][9] It is the first electrified railway in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the first higher-speed rail on the plateau.[13] China high-speed railway service runs China Railway CR200J Fuxing series trainset on this line.[13][14]


According to Chinese media, the Sichuan–Tibet railway is extremely difficult to construct. The railway has a huge elevation difference of 3000m. The starting point Sichuan basin only has 300m altitude, while the terminal is located 3000m above sea level on the Tibetan Plateau. 90% of the line runs altitude of more than 3000m.

The Nyingchi segment alone runs through Yarlung Tsangpo river 16 times, and requires the construction of 47 tunnels and 121 bridges.[13] One of the most challenging segments is the Milin tunnel with 10km in length. Milin tunnel sits 1200m below the surface under a mountain range, while has an average altitude of 3100m due to being situated on the Tibetan Plateau.[9]

A 1,011 km (628 mi) long Ya’an–Nyingchi segment will have 72 tunnels with a total length of 851 km (529 mi) with multiple tunnels with a length of more than 30-kilometre (19 mi), of which the longest tunnel is the 42.5-kilometre-long (26.4 mi) Yigong Tunnel.[15][16]

The railway line is tunneled through areas with high-temperature crust.[17]

The total cost of the entire project is around 319.8 billion RMB (app. USD 47.8 billion).[18]


Chengdu–Ya’an segment[edit]

Sichuan-Tibet Railway Extension from Ya’an railway station

Ya’an railway station waiting lounge

The Chengdu to Ya’an segment is 140 km long and has a design speed of 200 km/h. This section opened on 28 December 2018.

Ya’an–Nyingchi segment[edit]

The Ya’an to Nyingchi segment is 1,011 km (628 mi) and has a design speed of 120–200 km/h (75–124 mph).[9] It traverses a seismically active region with difficult terrain and a fragile ecology, and is the most difficult part of the railway to construct.[19][20] The segment’s construction started on 8 November 2020[9] with construction expected to last until 2030.[1][9]

Nyingchi–Lhasa segment[edit]

The Nyingchi to Lhasa segment has completed construction and has begun operations. The 435.48-kilometre-long (270.59 mi)[12][21] segment has a design speed of 160 kilometres per hour (100 mph). Nyingchi segment includes 47 tunnels, 121 bridges and a 525m long bridge.[22]

Construction began on 19 December 2014.[4] Tracklaying completed in December 2020.[23] This section opened on 25 June 2021.[11][12]

On 25 June 2021, the segment began operations, with the first train leaving Lhasa for Nyingchi at 10.30 am. The railway reduces the travel time from Lhasa to Nyingchi from 5 hours to 3.5 hours and Shannan to Nyingchi from 6 hours to more than 2 hours compared to roads.[24] Aside from passenger service, it’s also capable of transporting 10 million tonnes of freight annually.[25]

Rolling stock[edit]

160 km/h services use the China Railway CR200J trainsets.[14] CR200J Plateau variant will serve the railway, and it’s a type of bi-mode locomotive specifically designed for plateau operations.[26] 31 sets of train in 12 car configuration is in service. A combination of diffusion and distributed oxygen systems are installed to help alleviate altitude sickness for passengers on the trip.[13]

Strategic implication[edit]

The railway will greatly reduce travel times between Lhasa and eastern China. Before the Sichuan-Tibet railway, to make this journey by rail one must travel via Golmud and Lanzhou. The line is a serious engineering challenge, and serves the purpose of integrating local communities, as well as the interior and coastal regions of China. The railway is expected to have major positive impact on tourism in the region of Western China.[27]

Analysts in India are concerned that the railway will influence the ongoing Sino-Indian border dispute by supporting China’s armed forces along the Line of Actual Control and opposite Arunachal Pradesh.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c “川藏铁路雅林段”一头一尾”站前工程招标,计划4月开工”. 2021-01-31.
  2. ^ a b “成雅铁路正式开通”. 2018-12-29.
  3. ^ “Tibet’s first bullet train line enters service”. CNN. 12 July 2021.
  4. ^ a b c “西藏拉林铁路开工建设”. 2014-12-19.
  5. ^ a b “四川藏区加速构建立体交通网”. 2014-12-25.
  6. ^ “西藏首条电气化铁路拉林铁路全线成功送电”. 2021-04-28.
  7. ^ “西藏铁路进入电气化时代” [Tibet Railway enters era of electrification] (in Chinese). 搜狐. 24 April 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  8. ^ Chu. “China Approves New Railway for Tibet”. CRI. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Briginshaw, David (11 November 2020). “China starts work on central section of Sichuan-Tibet Railway”. International Railway Journal. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  10. ^ Krishnan, Ananth (25 June 2021). “China launches first bullet train in Tibet, close to Indian border”. The Hindu. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  11. ^ a b “拉林铁路开通运营 复兴号开上高原”. 2021-06-24.
  12. ^ a b c “跟着复兴号上高原!西藏第一条电气化铁路6月25日开通运营”. 24 June 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d “Tibet railway among new lines to open in China”. international rail journal. 28 June 2021.
  14. ^ a b PTI (25 June 2021). “China launches first bullet train in Tibet, close to Indian border”. The Hindu.
  15. ^ “Construction of the Ya’an-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway started–Seetao”. Seetao. Retrieved 2022-01-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ “多重解析–DOI注册管理系统–中国知网”. doi:10.15961/j.jsuese.202100224. Retrieved 2022-01-05.
  17. ^ Chen, Stephen (17 November 2021). “China’s Sichuan-Tibet rail project at full steam – with fans and ice as machines melt, workers wilt”. South China Morning Post.
  18. ^ “China to begin construction of Ya’an-Linzhi section of Sichuan-Tibet Railway close to India’s border”. The Indian Express. 2020-11-01. Retrieved 2022-01-05.
  19. ^ a b Ramachandran, Sudha (6 December 2020). “Tibet Railway Network Speeding Up to the Indian Border”. Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  20. ^ 陈子琰. “Toughest sections yet to be built in Sichuan-Tibet railway”. China Daily. Retrieved 2021-04-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ “拉林铁路山南段五座站房整体亮相”. 2021-05-06.
  22. ^ “Travelling through the Tibetan mountains: Tibet’s first bullet train”. Railway Technology. 1 September 2022.
  23. ^ “新建川藏铁路拉林段正线轨道铺通-中新网视频”. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  24. ^ “Bullet train debuts on new railway in Tibet”. 25 June 2021. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  25. ^ “China’s $5.6 billion high-speed railroad has opened up in Tibet. Its electric bullet trains are racing 250 miles across the country”. Business Insider. 18 July 2021.
  26. ^ Morant, Sue (August 16, 2017). “Bridging the Sichuan-Tibet gap”. International Railway Journal.
  27. ^ “China will soon open a new stretch of rail across Tibet”. The Economist. 3 June 2021.