The Ministry of Railway denied recent media reports that the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway will begin this month, according to People Daily’s website people.com.cn.
The reports said the ministry would invest an estimated 53.78 billion yuan ($7.86 billion) over eight years in the project. The new train line would have taken just eight hours to travel the 1,629 kilometers between Chengdu and Lhasa.
An anonymous ministry official said the Sichuan-Tibet railway project was only just added to China’s middle-and-long term railway construction plan last year, and so it is still in its planning stage.
A number of challenging geographic obstacles stand in the way of the railroad’s construction, including frozen earth, land and rock slides, cold weather and a lack of oxygen due to high-altitudes in some parts. As a result, some experts said the total cost of the railway may reach 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion).
There are currently two ways to get from Chengdu to Lhasa: driving on the Number 318 national highway which takes three days, or taking a train from Chengdu to Shaanxi to Qinghai and finally on to Lhasa, which takes about 45 hours in total.