Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Lhasa, Tibet, China

This railway connects Tibet with China and it encompasses the highest stretch of railway in the world, located at the Tanggula Pass, which is some 16,640 feet above sea level. The rail track that the train runs on was completed in 1984 and, because of its high altitude, has many features and modifications that you would not find on a standard railway.

If you wish to travel on this railway you will not need to purchase any sort of special ticket, because the railway is a normally functioning track that is designed to bring people from point A to B. You will, however, need to make sure that you have all the required visa stamps, because you will be crossing from China to Tibet, or vice versa, and this can sometimes be complex.

When purchasing a ticket you will have to sign a medical declaration that you are aware that you are travelling at high altitude and are aware of the risks. Each of the trains has many modifications that allow for high altitude travel.

The train is powered by diesel locomotives that have been specially designed in the United States. They are pulling several passenger cars that have many modifications for passenger safety. First off, the glass is fitted with a special UV protective cover to shield riders from the harmful rays of the sun.

What will be most notable when you board the train is the oxygen supply. Most people have experienced high altitude travel in an aeroplane where the entire environment within the plane is pressurised, so it is similar to the conditions at sea level. On the train, you will see how there are special masks that allow you to take oxygen should you need it. At the altitudes the train reaches many people will find they do not need supplementary oxygen, as long as they do not exert themselves.

Medical complications on the journey are common and the train operator ensures that there is a doctor on board for all journeys. Those who ride the train describe it as if they are taking a trip to the heavens, because of the altitude the train reaches. It is truly an engineering triumph that something could be built on the ground at an altitude that is usually the reserved for aeroplanes. If you can organise the travel and visas, then this is an experience well worth having.

(Image from Wikipedia)

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