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Train line will link city, Tibet

 
 

[2005-12-13] LOCAL travelers will soon be able to take a pressurized train to Tibet, for about half the price of flying to the elevated region.

The express line, which will take more than two days to travel from Shanghai to Lhasa, will go into operation next July.

The train will stop at several famous sightseeing spots along the route, such as Qinghai Lake, Hol Xil, Kun Lun Mountain and the Potala Palace.

When the line opens, it will link Tibet with Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xining and Lanzhou, according to Hu Yadong, vice director of the Ministry of Railway.

The trip from Shanghai will take about 53 hours, and cost more than 1,000 yuan (US$123).

The line will apply the most advanced trains in China, which are equipped with oxygen supply devices for the high altitude as about 960 kilometers of track along the Qinghai-Tibet section of the line are 4,000 meters above sea level.

All of the carriages on the train will be pressurized, similar to an airplane's cabin, to prevent passengers from suffering headaches or rapid heart beats at the high altitude.

It will only cost half as much to travel to Tibet by train, said You Yong of the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Shanghai.

Currently, a six-day tour of Tibet costs about 7,000 yuan, with the return air fare costing 3,000 yuan alone.

"Now the whole tour will only be around 3,000 yuan if tourists take the train," said You.

Foreign travelers are welcome on the train, but they must first get a permit to enter Tibet, according to You. The permits cost US$500 each. Travelers from Tibet also need permits, while those from Hong Kong and Macau can enter Tibet by showing their passports.

Some travel agencies in the city wonder if the amount of time needed to travel to Tibet and back by train will limit the number of people interested in the trip.

"The entire trip will extend to about 10 days," said Qin Long, a spokesperson from China International Travel. "Tourists from Shanghai might not want to spend so much time on the train".

In addition to the ordinary travel package, China's first luxury train service will start between Beijing and Tibet in the first half of 2007, the Shanghai-based service operator said yesterday.

RailPartners, a unit of hospitality and leisure company TZG Partners, has signed an agreement with Qinghai-Tibet Railway Co, a company under the Ministry of Railways, to form a joint venture to operate the service.

The trip, which costs US$1,000 a night on the train, includes a luxury suit, in-room dining, butler service, and massage, the company said.

Each train will accommodate 100 passengers in suites featuring king-sized beds, baths and showers.

Source: Shanghai Daily

 
     
   
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