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Tibet railway to boost logistical support

August 9, 2010

Ananth Krishnan
The Hindu
August 6, 2010

China's high-altitude railway line to Tibet,
which opened four years ago, has begun to be used
as a supply-line to enhance the mobilisation
capabilities of China's Air Force in the region,
State media reported this week.

The railway line, which runs from Qinghai
province to Lhasa in Tibet, is the world's
highest railway, running at an altitude of 5000 metres.

The line was opened in July 2006, with a view to
boosting economic development in Tibet and
enhancing the People's Liberation Army's (PLA)
mobilisation capabilities. The railway has mainly
been used to ferry tourists and businesspeople from other provinces to Tibet.

But the PLA has, since this summer, begun
transporting "combat-readiness materials” through
the railway, the official PLA Daily reported this week.

"In mid-summer, a train loaded with important
combat readiness materials for the Air Force of
the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLAAF) got
to the destination safely,” it said, adding that
was the first time that the railway had been used
to boost logistical support for the PLAAF.

The newspaper, which is the PLA's official media
outlet, said the railway line would significantly
enhance transportation capabilities, particularly
to supply the PLAAF's air bases and air-strips in
the region with combat readiness materials.

An unnamed official of the PLAAF's Logistics
Department told the PLA Daily that this new
avenue to supply logistics “symbolised a new
improvement of the military transportation
capacity of the PLAAF in combat support."

Given the high altitude, the PLAAF has begun
training transport security personnel to help
them combat altitude sickness, the PLA Daily
said. To ensure the supply line's security,
personnel would “examine the safety state of the
train" at every stop along the rail route.
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