The "Sky Train", "Lhasa Express", "Rocket to the rooftop of the world", "World's highest railway"; regardless of what its called, This qinghai tibet train is truly an engineering wonder.
The train is equipped with 2 Oxygen sources, 1) released throughout the cabins when reaching Golmund and heading into Tibet and 2) Personal Oxygen Canisters in case you feel light headed and only available from Tibet to Golmund or from Golmund to Tibet (see tibet train oxygen).
Between Xining and Golmud the tracks pass by Qinghai Lake - China's largest. But it's the Golmud-to-Lhasa sector which offers the most breath-taking scenery. That segment also offers the record-breakers: the world's highest passenger railroad (at Tanggula Pass - elevation: 16,640 ft.; 5072m) and the world's highest railroad tunnel (Fenghuoshan - elevation: 16,093 ft.; 4905m). Over 80% of the journey is at altitudes above 13,000 feet; fully half the track on this sector was laid atop permafrost.
Qingzang Railway is the first railway in China to use the Incremental Train Control System (ITCS) for enhanced train control. Train stations with this system installed does not need signaling device or rail track circuitry. Instead, only the railroad switch devices are implemented. ITCS combines automatic block, train station interlock control, and train speeding control in one package, controlling the train when it stops at or passes through the station or when it is performing other related activities.
The wireless network system implemented is for the automatic backup of ITCS System Event Log when the train enters the station. Qingzang Railway has 78 locomotives in total. Each locomotive is equipped with one ORing TAR-120, while the train station control center is also equipped with one ORing TAR-120 – for a total of 79 TAR-120s used. On each locomotive, the TAR-120 is connected to the DVR that records the ITCS System Event Log. When the train enters the station, the TAR-120 on the locomotive communicates with the TAR-120 in the train station control center, and the ITCS System Event Log would be successfully uploaded to the train station control center.
Much of the travel involves crossing a massive plateau nicknamed "The Rooftop of the World." Special diesel engines capable of operating efficiently at 3-mile-high altitudes were designed; an internal garbage disposal system was employed to reduce pollution along the route.
Major attractions along the Tibet by Train route include:
* Xining: Xinging, a city of just over one million inhabitants, is situated in a remote valley on the eastern edge of Qinghai Province - occupying China's rugged, cold-weather northern "frontier." The city is best known for the Kumbum Monastery (Ta'er Temple), one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist sites in China. The Gelugpa sect was founded here by Tsongkhapa, and the hillside monastery was erected in 1560 in his honor. Up to 2,000 monks can gather to chant sutras in the Great Hall of Meditation, whose roof is supported by carpet-wrapped pillars. The Hall of Butter Sculpture includes colorfully-painted yak butter scutptures depicting important events in Buddhist history. Once home to over 3,000 monks, Kumbum Monastery now houses 600.
* Qinghai Lake: The lake is about the size of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, though Qinghai Lake is not nearly as salty. Its waters support a variety of fish which, in turn, support a variety of birds - many of which call on Qinghai Lake during their bi-annual migrations. Commorants, gesse, cranes and swans are plentiful here. The summer months bring herds of yak. Over twenty rivers and streams flow into the lake but there's no outflow; evaporation maintains its level.
* Golmud: The city's economic mainstays are its burgeoning mineral, oil and chemical industries. But to the visitor Golmud's main function is "transportation hub." Through here funnels traffic from China's eastern and northern cities to the lone highway (and now, the lone railroad) leading southwest to Lhasa. To many visitors passing through, Golmud's surrounding landscape presents an almost lunar look; at an almost 10,000-foot elevation, the region is virtually treeless.
A deluxe 5 star sightseeing train (Tangula Luxury Train)will soon be up and running on the newly-completely Qinghai-Tibet railway, Ma Jiantang, vice governor of Qinghai province, revealed during a tourism promotion meeting held in Shanghai.