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Company puts off launch of luxury trains to Tibet

March 17, 2009

Tangula Luxury Trains postpones the launch of
service from Beijing to Tibet until 2010
By Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer
The Associated Press
March 16, 2009

SHANGHAI -- The launch of the first luxury train
service from Beijing to Tibet has been postponed
from April until spring next year amid the
economic slowdown that has battered the communist
country, the operator said Monday.

A reservations staffer for Tangula Luxury Trains
confirmed a Hong Kong newspaper report of the
postponement, but did not provide further
comment. He would not give his name because he is
not authorized to speak to the media.

Other staff authorized to comment were not immediately available.

The delay of the train's launch until the spring
of 2010 resulted in the loss of about $2 million
in advance bookings, the South China Morning Post
reported on Monday, citing a company spokeswoman.
So far $100 million has been invested in the project, it said.

It was the second delay, following a postponement
from September 2008 until April this year.

The Post said Tangula's spokeswoman characterized
the postponement as a "business decision" that
had nothing to do with a reported security
crackdown aimed at preventing any unrest or other
incidents during a year of critical anniversaries
of anti-Chinese riots in Tibet.

China's growth has slowed precipitously in recent
months as exports have plunged, and the impact is
reverberating through the world's third-largest
economy as unemployment rises and consumers hold
back on purchases, especially of luxury goods and services.

Tangula, the first foreign-invested passenger
train service in China, plans to run luxury
trains from Beijing to Tibet and southwest
China's Yunnan province. The fares are
$3,300-$5,000 per person, depending on the route.

Hong Kong-based Wing On Travel owns a majority
stake in Tangula Railtours, a joint venture
between Tangula Group Ltd. and state-owned Qinghai-Tibet Railway Corp.
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