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Roof of the world: Tibet to steer on rail
Updated: 2004-06-22 16:30

Nearly two centuries after railway was invented, the symbol of modern civilization made its way into Tibet, known as the "roof of the world," for the first time.

At about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, two 25-meter-long rails were laid down at the Amdo Station, some 440 kilometers from Lhasa, at the foot of the Tanggula Range in Amdo County of Tibet.

TO LHASA: The Tibet Autonomous Region gets its first section of railway tracks June 22, 2004 as the Qinghai-Tibet railway line extends. [Xinhua] 
Sprawling on the Tanggula Range, a mountain "insurmountable even by eagles" in the eyes of locals and regarded as the cradle of the Yangtze River and Lancang River, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway boasts a maximum altitude of 5,070 meters, making it the most elevated railway in the world.

With an investment of 26.21 billion yuan (US$3.16 billion), China began the construction project in 2001, hoping the railway between Golmud City of Qinghai Province and Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, can serve as a bridge connecting the autonomous region isolated by its high altitude and severe natural environment to the rest of the country.

The Chinese government also hopes the project will put Tibet's social and economic development on wheel and serve the strategy of developing the less-developed western regions and seeking harmonious development across the country.

The 1,142-kilometer Qinghai-Tibet Railway is scheduled to be completed in 2007.

Days before the rail laying ceremony, residents in Amdo County had hung the national flags on their tents and houses, a practice for major festivals.

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