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Ministry refutes media reports on new railway to Tibet

Chinese railway officials Wednesday refuted media reports that construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway would start this month.

China Daily, a national English language newspaper, reported Tuesday on its website that building would start on the 1, 629-km railway linking Sichuan Province and the Tibet Autonomous Region in September with a designed speed of 200 km/h, citing source from scol.com.cn, a Sichuan-based news portal.

Shenzhen Daily, a local English newspaper in Shenzhen City, south China's Guangdong Province, also reported work on the railway is to start soon this month.

China Daily said the railway's construction would have to overcome complicated geographic conditions, such as frozen earth, landslides, cold weather and lack of oxygen because of the high-altitude in some parts of the proposed line.

Officials in charge of the railway planning from the Ministry of Railways told Xinhua the Sichuan-Tibet railway is an important railway in the future planning of the country's network, but work on the difficult project has not started, and there is no timetable for construction yet.

Currently, trains from the capital city Chengdu of Sichuan Province have to detour via the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to get to Lhasa, which takes 45 hours. The road option via the No. 318 national highway, or the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, takes 3 days.

The 1,956-kilometer Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which runs from Xining City in Qinghai Province to Lhasa, was put into operation in July 2006, ending Tibet's history without railway.

(Xinhua News Agency September 3, 2009)