Sunday, 22 July 2007

The Highest Railway in the World

Beijing to Lhasa, the Tibet Railway.

The highest railway in the world: The new Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the highest railway in the world, climbing from 2,829m above sea level at Golmud (Geermu) to 3,641m at Lhasa. Its highest point is in the Tanggula Pass, at just over 5,000m above sea level the world's highest rail track.

The 1,338m Fenghuoshan tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world, at 4,905m above sea level. The 3,345m Yangbajing tunnel is the longest tunnel.

Around 1000km, or over 80% of the railway, is at an altitude of more than 4,000m. There are 675 bridges, totalling 159.88 km, and over half the length of the railway is laid on permafrost. Permafrost turns to squishy mush if it melts so the engineers use many techniques including liquid nitrogen pipes and metal sun reflectors to keep the soil under the tracks cool.

Lhasa to Beijing - 47 hours and 28 minutes, 4,064km.
Lhasa to Shanghai - 51 hours and 39 minutes, 4,373 km.
Lhasa to Chengdu - 48 hours and 50 minutes, 3,360km

The train can carry 936 people and I was lucky enough to make the journey myself. I highly recommend it but found information about the journey and facilities difficult to find. So I wrote this small blog, please add any comments or send corrections.