China announced on 6 March 2014 to extend the Qinghai-Tibet railway line to Xigaze in Tibet. Xigaze is hometown of Panchen Lama. The proposed extension is the world’s highest railway line.
Panchen Lama is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. He holds an important position in the China Buddhist Association.
The 253-km Lhasa-Xigaze railway line will be open before October 2014. It will run at 120 km per hour through valleys and over three bridges that run across the Brahmaputra River or Yarlung Zangbo as it is known in China.
The new extension line will take travelers from Lhasa to Xigaze also known as Shigatse in about two hours over five hours. Shigatse is an important monastery town home to the Tashilhunpo monastery that has been the seat of the Panchen Lamas, and is an important centre of pilgrimage for many Tibetans.
China has also proposed extending the line from Shigatse to the border with Nepal. Through this extension China aimed to meet both political and military goals.
This move is expected to bring more tourists to the China-backed Panchen Lama's hometown in Tibet. The rail network will also boost China's mobilisation capabilities in remote Tibetan areas.
The Xigaze region borders India's Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan. The new extension line will make it easier for the China to carry men and machinery to the Indian border at short notice.
When: 6 March 2014
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