BEIJING — Travelers in the Himalayas can now bypass some of Tibet's hazardous roads by using a new railway line that has renewed fears about Tibet's cultural identity and deepened concerns about China's ambitions in the strategic, high-altitude region.
Passenger services started Saturday on the railroad's just opened $2 billion extension line from Lhasa, Tibet's capital, to Shigatse, Tibet's second -largest city, and a major pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists.
The new rail line, which follows the completion of the Beijing-Lhasa line in 2006, connects the two cities in just two hours, compared with a five-to-seven-hour road trip on National Highway 318, "which is said to have many safety hazards," the state-runChina Daily newspaper said.
Indeed, on Monday, at least three passengers on a tour bus were killed and another 15 were missing after their bus plunged into a river southeast of Tibet, Chinese state media reported. The accident followed a similar tragedy nine days earlier, when 44 Chinese tourists died after their bus crashed off a cliff in southern Tibet. Monday's accident occurred on Highway 318, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Source Credit: USA Today