() was built as the first step of an ambitious plan set by the People's Republic of China
to connect Tibet
with the rest of China by railway
. LanQing railway, designed in 1956 and built from May 1958 to September 1959, runs 188 Kilometers long, connecting Lanzhou
, the capital city of Gansu
province, and Xining
, the capital city of Qinghai
province. It is currently the only railway that connects Qinghai-Tibet region with the rest of China.
The second step of the original plan is the Qingzang railway
, a 1956-kilometer railroad that starts from Xining, first runs west bound to the city of Golmud, also in Qinghai province, and then runs south bound towards Tibet and finally ends in Lhasa
. This plan proved to be very challenging as the Qinghai-Tibet plateau is some of the highest terrain in the world. The segment between Xining and Golmud
, measured 814 kilometers long, was completed in 1979, and became operational in 1984. However, the final segment of the QingZang railway, from Golmud to Lhasa, was put on hold for almost two decades due to the high elevation and complex terrain of the region. This project was revived again in 2001, and was finally completed in October 2005. After signalling work and track testing it was inaugurated on 1 July 2006.
The easternmost section of new Lanxin High-Speed Railway
(construction of which started in 2009), from Lanzhou to Xining, will run roughly parallel to the Lanqing Railway.