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Top 5 Statistics You Do Not Know About Tibet Railway

June,10 2023 BY Derek Wong 0 COMMENTS

China has rewritten the world's history of railway construction with its completion of the world's highest railway, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, on the roof of the world. After reading the following key facts of Qinghai-Tibet Railway, nobody will be unconvinced that this railway is worthy of its name as a man-made wonder of the world.

1. The First Railway to Tibet

The transportation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is almost blocked, and logistics are not smooth. People on the plateau can only maintain a self-sufficient manor economy for a long time. Before 2006, most people could only get into or out of Tibet by road. It usually took a few days. Though they could also travel by air, most people were not able to afford the one-way air ticket of over RMB 1,500. Thus, this region needed other means of transportation badly to solve these problems. The most possible way was the train to Tibet.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway mapQinghai-Tibet Railway map.

In the 1950s, a plan to build a railway to Tibet was made. In 1958, the construction of the first section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway (Xining to Golmud ) began and the 845-kilometer Qinghai-Tibet Railway project was completed and officially opened for operation in 1984.

In 2001, the second section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway project (Golmud to Lhasa) began. In 2005, the second phase of the 1,142-kilometer Qinghai Tibet Railway was completed, and the following year the entire Qinghai Tibet Railway was fully connected.

After the completion of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the extension section from Lhasa to Shigatse began in 2010 and finished in 2014. From then on, the first railway connecting the mainland and Tibet was built, and the mysterious veil of Tibet was also lifted.

2. The World's Highest Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the highest railway in the world at an altitude of over 4000 meters above sea level with a total length of 960 kilometers, and its highest point is 5,072 meters above sea level.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway crosses Tanggula MountainThe Qinghai-Tibet Railway crosses Tanggula Mountain.

What’s more, Tanggula Mountain Station on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is 5068m above sea level, which is the highest railway station in the world.

However, you don’t need to worry about altitude sickness onboard. The fully enclosed carriage adopts a diffusion-type oxygen supply system and distributed oxygen absorption method, increasing the oxygen content in the carriage to 23.5%. Through distributed oxygen supply, if you need more oxygen, you can access the oxygen pipes set up in various parts of the carriage at any time to avoid altitude reactions.

3. The World's Longest Plateau Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is also the world's longest plateau railway, with a total length of 1956 kilometers, including 814 kilometers from Xining to Golmud and 1,142 kilometers from Golmud to Lhasa. The entire journey of Xining to Lhasa train takes around 22 hours. As you need to stay overnight onboard, it is important to choose a comfortable sleeping berth onboard.

There are three ticket classes of Tibet trains, the first type is the soft sleeper, the second type is the hard sleeper, and the hard seat. For safety, ambient condition, and more privacy, the soft sleeper is a better choice. But if your budget is not enough, a hard sleeper is also a good choice.

However, during peak season, it is difficult to obtain one ticket for the Qinghai-Tibet train, especially for soft sleeper tickets. Therefore, please book train tickets in advance. If you book a Tibet train tour with us, we can guarantee you a Xining to Lhasa train ticket even during the peak season.

Soft Sleep of Qinghai Tibet TrainSoft Sleep of Qinghai Tibet Train.

4. The World's Longest Track on Frozen Earth

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is also the longest Track on Frozen Earth in the world: The Qinghai-Tibet Railway not only needs to pass through continuous permafrost areas of 550 kilometers but also needs to pass through discontinuous permafrost areas of 82 kilometers.

The Qinghai-Tibet RailwayThe Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the longest Track on Frozen Earth in the world.

The construction problems caused in these areas mainly include two aspects: On the one hand, the increase in temperature caused by global warming will cause permafrost to melt; On the other hand, human engineering activities will change the relatively stable hydrothermal environment of permafrost, which will involve a larger area of permafrost melting. It is precisely because of these challenges that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has become a remarkable engineering achievement.

5. The World's Fastest Train on Frozen Earth

The speed of the Tibet train in permafrost areas reaches 100 kilometers per hour, which makes Qinghai-Tibet Railway the Fastest train on Frozen Earth in the world.

The world has built railways in permafrost areas for more than 100 years, but the disease rate of the railways built in permafrost areas is very high, and the driving speed is only 60 to 70 kilometers per hour. The slow passage of trains in diseased areas greatly affects the efficiency of railway transportation.

The cooling measures of Qinghai-Tibet RailwayThe cooling measures of Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

However, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has broken through traditional design concepts and adopted advanced technology mainly based on active cooling measures, effectively preventing and controlling the diseases of frozen earth on the railway and thus ensuring the speed of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

More Records of the Qinghai Tibet Railway

The construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has not only created multiple records mentioned above but also many other records as follow:

Fenghuoshan Tunnel, 4,905 meters above sea level, is the world's most elevated tunnel on frozen earth.

Kunlun Mountain Tunnel, running 1,686 meters, is the world's longest plateau tunnel built on frozen earth.

Amdo Track-Laying Base, with an altitude of 4704 meters, is the world's highest track-laying base.

Qingshui River Grand Bridge, with a length of 11.7 kilometers, is the world's longest plateau permafrost railway bridge.

Qinghai-tibet Railway passes Qingshui River Grand BridgeQinghai-tibet Railway passes Qingshui River Grand Bridge.


The construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has created multiple records in the history of world railway transportation, such as the world’s highest railway, the world’s longest plateau railway, the world’s longest track on frozen earth, and so on. The development of the Qinghai Tibet Railway has promoted the rapid development of tourism in Qinghai and Tibet provinces, allowing the rich tourism resources of Qinghai and Tibet provinces to be displayed in front of people.

There is no doubt that traveling to Tibet by train could be a lifetime memory for you. Start your Tibet train tour with us now! The most beautiful scenery is on the road, and the best mood is in the scenery.

Derek Wong

About the Author - Derek Wong

Mr. Derek Wong is sales manager of Tibet Vista Tour as well as designer of Tibet Vista websites and has been providing specialized travel services to Tibet Vista travelers for years. He has continued to hone his professional expertise by completing numerous travel specialist courses to China and Tibet and Nepal and Bhutan.

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