Beijing: China is due to commence the construction of the first branch line for the Qinghai-Tibet railway link, the world's highest rail route this year. Once completed, the rail link will connect Lhasa with Xigaze, the second largest Tibetan city, close to India.
The construction of the 254km extension line of the Qinghai-Tibet railway linking Tibet's capital, Lhasa to Xigaze will start this year and the 254-km line is expected to be completed in 2010.
Incidentally, Xigaze is the base of Tibet's third highest Buddhist spiritual leader, the Panchen Lama, after the Dalai Lama and Karmapa Lama, the last two currently being in in exile in India.
The Qinghai-Tibet railway extends from Xining to Lhasa, a distance of 1,956 kilometres from and becam functional in 1006. About 960 km of the rail route is located 4,000 meters above sea level with the highest point traversed by it at is 5,072 meters, 200 meters higher than the Peruvian Railway in the Andes.