China's $5.6 billion high-speed railroad has opened up in Tibet. Its electric bullet trains are racing 250 miles across the country.

·4 min read
Tibet's new high-speed train travelling on a bridge in the countryside
A Fuxing bullet train runs along the Lhasa-Nyingchi railway on June 24, 2021 in Shannan, Tibet Autonomous Region of China Jiao Hongtao/VCG via Getty Images
  • China opened up a new high-speed railroad that connects cities with an electric bullet train.

  • Passengers can travel from Tibet's capital, Lhasa, to the city of Nyingchi in three and a half hours.

  • The train will travel 160 km/h down the 250-mile railroad, which crosses the Tibet countryside.

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China's first fully electrified bullet train is now on the tracks in the remote Himalayan region of Tibet

Tibet's new train leaves the railway station
The first Fuxing bullet train leaves the Lhasa railway station. Jiao Hongtao/VCG via Getty Images

The new railroad connects Tibet's capital, Lhasa, to the city of Nyingchi, about 423 kilometres away, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The "Fuxing" electric bullet trains are manufactured and operated by the state-owned China State Railway Group. It took around six years to construct, the report said.

The bullet train transports people and cargo at speeds of 160 km/h

Tibet's high-speed train at the station with a red bow on its nose
The first Fuxing bullet train prepares to leave the Lhasa Railway Station on the Lhasa-Nyingchi railway. Dong Zhiwen/VCG via Getty Images

Compared with other high-speed trains in China, which travel at around 300 km/h, the Fuxing bullet train is quite slow.

It's able to transport 10 million tonnes of freight on an annual basis, Xinhua's report said.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi railroad runs through 47 tunnels and over 121 bridges

Fuxing bullet train traveling on railway in Tibet
The first Fuxing bullet train leaves the Lhasa railway station. Jiao Hongtao/VCG via Getty Images

It also crosses the Brahmaputra river, known as Yarlung Zangbo, 16 times, Xinhua reported.

Passengers will be able to take in features of the Tibetan landscape, including the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon and Nanga Bawa Peak, as they look out of the train window, according to the report.

The railroad is called "roof of the world," Xinhua said.

The Fuxing bullet train stops at nine stations, including Lhasa, Shannan and Nyingchi

Passenger steps off the Fuxing bullet train
Passengers get off the Fuxing bullet train of the Lhasa-Nyingchi railway after they arrived in Nyingchi, south-west China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Chogo/Xinhua via Getty Images

The "Fuxing" bullet trains, which run on the new railroad, will cut the travel time from Lhasa to Nyingchi significantly, the report said.

By car, the journey takes five hours. With the new bullet train, it'll take three and a half.

It'll also reduce the travel time from Shannan to Nyingchi from six hours to around two hours, Xinhua reported.

The railway development cost $5.6 billion overall

Staff members serve passengers refreshments on the Fuxing bullet train
Staff members serve passengers refreshments on the Fuxing bullet train. Photo by Purbu Zhaxi/Xinhua via Getty Images

The brand new railroad and Fuxing bullet trains weren't cheap.

The whole project cost RMB 36.6 billion ($5.6 billion), according to a CNN report.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi railroad is part of China's plan to expand its high-speed rail network

The Fuxing bullet train sits in Lhasa Railway Station
The first Fuxing bullet train prepares to leave the Lhasa Railway Station. Dong Zhiwen/VCG via Getty Images

"The building of these new railways forms part of Xi Jinping's grand plan of 'integrating the vast national market,'" Olivia Cheung, research fellow at the China Institute of the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), told CNN in May.

"His scheme is grand in that it extends beyond just simply connecting existing towns, but existing towns with new mega-towns that are being constructed from scratch," she added.

There were celebrations at the Lhasa Railway Station when Tibet's first Fuxing bullet train made its debut on the railroad

Local residents dance next to the first Fuxing bullet train at the station
Local residents dance next to the first Fuxing bullet train at the Lhasa Railway Station on the Lhasa-Nyingchi railway. Jiang Feibo/China News Service via Getty Images

The bullet trains are powered by both internal combustion and electric engines, and can run on non-electrified and electrified railroads, Xinhua reported.

Given that 90% of the railroad sits 3,000 metres above sea level, the mix of engine power will help the train travel through potentially harsh weather conditions, the report said.

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