China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, approved in the recent National People’s Congress’s (NPC) annual session, outlines the Sichuan-Tibet railway line near the China-India border as a key strategic priority.
The 1,629km Sichuan–Tibet high-elevation railway line will connect Chengdu, Sichuan province’s capital, to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The 14th Five-Year plan reportedly highlighted this railway’s central section, from Ya’an in Sichuan to Nyingchi in Tibet, as a key infrastructure project. In November 2020, the Communist Party of China’s general secretary and China’s president, Xi Jinping, said that this railway line’s work is extremely challenging due to the complex geological and climatic conditions and the region’s sensitive environment.
This railway line is divided into three sections. The Chengdu-Ya’an section in Sichuan had opened in December 2018, while the construction on the Lhasa-Nyingchi section in Tibet started in 2015. The latter is expected to be completed by June this year.
The work on the central section linking Ya’an and Xinduqiao in Sichuan and Bomi and Nyingchi in Tibet will start soon as the public bidding to secure these projects was recently completed.
The central section’s construction is the most challenging part and the Chinese state media reports that the entire railway line from Chengdu to Lhasa would be functional by 2030. Upon completion, the railway will be the second to link Tibet with the rest of the country, following the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which opened in 2006.
Xi highlighted the railway’s importance, describing it as “a major step in safeguarding national unity and a significant move in promoting the western region’s economic and social development.”