China Conducts Final Trials On New Rail Line In Tibet Close To Arunachal Border
By Swarajya Staff
The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail line will enable the PLA to bring trainloads of troops and equipment from other theatres in a very short time.
China is conducting final trials on its new high-speed rail line linking Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, with Nyingchi, a town opposite India’s Tuting sector in the Upper Siang district of Arunachal, a Chinese journalist said on Twitter.
Posting the video of the trials on the micro-blogging site, the Beijing-based journalist revealed that China spent $4.8 billion on the 435-km rail line.
Nyingchi is located 40 km away from the border in Arunachal Pradesh, and the rail line itself runs much closer to the border than that at some points.
The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail line is part of the longer, 1,600-km long Sichuan-Tibet line that will link Lhasa with Chengdu, a city east of Arunachal Pradesh. The headquarter of China’s Western Theatre Command, which is responsible for the frontier with India from Arunachal to Ladakh, is located in Chengdu.
Sichuan-Tibet rail line. (@detresfa_/Twitter)Sichuan-Tibet rail line. (@detresfa_/Twitter)
China has also built a 250-km-long highway linking Nyingchi with Lhasa, which, like the Lhasa-Nyingchi rail line, runs close to Arunachal.
Construction of the Lhasa-Nyingchi rail line, nearly 75 per cent of which is either over bridges or under tunnels, began in 2015, and track laying was completed over five years, in December 2020. China plans to open the rail line for traffic by the end of June, amid tensions with India along the Himalayan frontier.
The remaining 1,100-km long section of the line, a part (Chengdu-Ya’an section) of which is already complete, is expected to be ready by 2030.
The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail line project has received consistent attention from the top echelons of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including President Xi Jinping himself, who linked it to ‘border stability’ as recently as November 2020, during the standoff with India in Ladakh.
Although the dominant narrative in the Chinese state media about the Lhasa-Nyingchi rail line is linked to economic development on the Tibetan Plateau, the CCP apparatus has pointed out that it will act as a “fast track” for the “delivery of strategic materials” to Tibet “if a scenario of a crisis happens at the border”.
The rail line will not only ease the movement of troops within China’s Western Theatre Command but also enable the PLA to bring trainloads of troops and equipment from other theatres in a very short time, a scenario that can’t be ruled out after China’s massive mobilisation along the LAC in Ladakh in 2020.