The Lhasa-Xigaze railway, with a budget of 13.3 billion yuan (1.95 billion U.S. dollars), is capable of transporting 8.3 million tonnes of cargo per year. The local authorities did not provide a projected annual passenger number.
Zhang Qingli, Communist Party chief of Tibet, said the rail line would make train services available in southwestern Tibetan regions which currently rely solely on roads for transport.
The railway will detour around nature reserves and drinking water sources and more measures will be taken during construction to better protect the fragile plateau environment, Zhang said.
Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun said the extension is a key project in China’s long and medium-term railway network expansion and will speed up Tibet’s social and economic development.
For a perspective from India on the expansion, which may eventually go all the way to the Nepal border, see this article from Times of India.