New infrastructure developments in Tibet
Lhasa-Lhoka Express Highway
Yesterday the Lhasa-Nyingchi (or Nyingtri in Tibetan) High Grade Highway was opened for trial operations.
Quoting from the TAR’s transportation department,Kangba TVreported: “except Songduo Tunnel and Milashan Tunnel, Lhasa-Nyingchi High Grade Highway has been well prepared and begins trial operation from October 1.”
The four-lane Lhasa-Nyingchi High Grade Highway is 398 km long; it is designed for a 80 km/h speeed.
According to the Chinese media: “The operation of Lhasa-Nyingchi High Grade Highway shortens the travel time between Lhasa and Nyingchi from 10 hours to four hours, which can greatly improve the traffic condition of the golden tour line as well as boost local economy development.”
The train on the same route should follow in a couple of years.
The Rongme Ngatra tunnel
Another project, termed as the world’s highest highway tunnel, was also recently opened to traffic.
The China Daily wrote: “The Que’ershan Tunnel, stretching 12.997 kilometers on National Highway No.317, in Ganzi, Sichuan province, opens to traffic on September 26, 2017. It is said to be the world’s highest tunnel on a highway. The tunnel, whose highest point is 4,378 meters above sea level, was completed 15 years after the launch of the project.”
Que’ershan is the Chinese name for the Rongme Ngatra is the highest peak of the Chola Mountains in the Kham region (today’s Sichuan).
According to the press release: “With the opening of the tunnel, it takes only 10 minutes to pass through the perilous and steep Que’ershan Mountain that stands 6,168 meters above the sea level. The project is projected to become a new impetus to help drive the economic and social development of the remote Tibetan region.”
The project is part of a highway (NH 317) between Nagchu and Chengdu.
Chengdu, Sichuan via Garzi (756 km), Dege (960), Jomda (1070), Chamdo (1298), Riwoche (1403) Dengchen (1546) Bachen (1782), Sog (1812) and Nagchu (2043).
The Tibet-Nepal Road
On August 29, 2017, the Kyirong-Nepal border post was reopened for foreign travelers.
The Middle East North Africa Financial Network reports: “It not only saves the expensive flight cost but also offers a superb overland landscape along the driving trip.”
Located in the Kyirong County, Shigatse, Kyirong border post is a vital landport between Tibet and Nepal.
Kyirong border is located 85 km away from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu; from China-Nepal highway section, Kyirong docking distance is only about 30 km.
Interesting, the article mention that it is the terminus of the National Highway 216 (Xinjiang-Tibet Highway second line). I mentioned earlier about this extremely important development (‘A new road between Tibet and Xinjiang’).
The website gives the historic background of Kyirong border post:
In 789 AD, according to legend, when Nepal’s Princess Bhrukuti married the Tibetan King Songtsan, she followed the trekking route to Tibet via Kyirong Border. Kyirong border was the main channel of the political and cultural communication between China and Nepal, but also the traditional border trade market. Tibetan people main export sheep to Nepal.
In 1972, China’s State Council has approved Kyirong Border become a national second-class land port and set up the departments such as customs and commodity inspection department. But trade market and the departments in Kyirong Border were closed later because of the prosperity of Zhangmu port.
In 1987, China’s State Council has approved Kyirong Border for the national first-class land port. Except for barter transactions, Nepalese currency, and RMB is also as a means of payment.
In 2014, China government decided to expand the opening in Kyirong Border.
However, in 2015, the road to the Kyirong border has been severely damaged by the heavy earthquake in Nepal. Therefore, the Kyirong border was closed for foreign travelers. Besides, in June 2016, heavy monsoon rains along the Kyirong border caused severe damage to the roads.
On August 29, 2017, Kyirong border in Tibet was reopened for foreign travelers.