President underscores importance of project to development of western region
President Xi Jinping has called for efforts to advance the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway project with high quality, saying that it has great relevance to promoting socioeconomic development in the country’s western region.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark in an instruction on the construction of the railway’s Ya’an-Nyingchi section, which started on Sunday.
Xi said in the instruction released on Sunday that the Sichuan-Tibet Railway project is a significant step in implementing the Party’s strategy of governing the Tibet autonomous region in the new era. It is crucially important for the country to safeguard national unity, enhance ethnic solidarity and consolidate stability in border areas, he said.
Noting that the geological conditions and the climate along the railway are complex and the environment is fragile, Xi said construction of the project will face rarely seen difficulties.
He called for leveraging the advantages of the country’s socialist system in terms of mobilizing all available resources to fulfill major tasks.
Xi urged China State Railway Group Co to take the major responsibility for the project, and he required related departments and the governments of Tibet and Sichuan province to strengthen synergy and coordination in the process to ensure high-quality construction of the project in a scientific, safe and environmentally friendly manner.
Premier Li Keqiang also made an instruction on the construction of the project. He emphasized prioritizing the safety, reliability and quality of the project, and called for coordinated efforts to promote construction, epidemic prevention and people’s well-being.
Joining a videoconference streamed in three locations to mark the start of the construction of the Ya’an-Nyingchi section, Vice-Premier Liu He conveyed Xi’s instruction and announced the launch of the construction.
Following the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which opened in 2006, the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, covering a distance of 1,838 kilometers, will be the second rail line connecting the autonomous region with the rest of the country.
Construction of the line is taking place in three stages. The Chengdu-Ya’an section became operational in December 2018, and construction of the Lhasa-Nyingchi section started in June 2015 and is still underway.
With a designed speed of 120 to 200 km per hour, the 1,011-km section between Ya’an in Sichuan and Nyingchi in Tibet is the third part of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway.
The middle section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be one of the world’s most challenging railway projects because it winds through the Sichuan Basin, the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, climbing from 600 meters above sea level to nearly 4,500 meters, experts said. It will pass through complicated geological conditions fraught with avalanches, landslides, earthquakes, heat, karst caves and underground streams.
Once completed, the railway will cut the travel time between Chengdu and Lhasa from more than 40 hours to around 13 hours. Millions of people along the line will benefit from the project as it will facilitate travel between Tibet and the rest of the country and lead to increased tourism.