A railway line linking Tibet and Nepal through a tunnel under Mount Everest is being considered, state media said Thursday, outlining the broad parameters of China’s latest ambitious railway project that will also drive Beijing’s growing influence in the Himalayan country.
“A proposed extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to the China-Nepal border through Tibet would boost bilateral trade and tourism as there is currently no rail line linking the two countries,” state-run China Daily reported on Thursday.
Quoting officials, the report said the project could be completed by 2020 and boost trade in the region. It did not give a cost estimate.
The project was being considered at the request of Nepal, the report added.
Wang Mengshu, a rail expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that engineers will face a number of difficulties once the project begins.
“If the proposal becomes reality, bilateral trade, especially in agricultural products, will get a strong boost, along with tourism and people-to-people exchanges,” he said.
“The changes in the elevation along the line are remarkable. The line is probably have to go through Qomolangma so that worker may have to dig some very long tunnels,” Wang said. Qomolangma Mountain is the Tibetan name for Mt Everest.
Earlier reports quoted Losang Jamcan, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, as telling Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav during his visit to Tibet’s provincial capital Lhasa last month that China plans to extend the Tibet railway to the town of Kermug; it is the Chinese town nearest to Nepal border where a border trade port has been built.