BEIJING: China plans to build a 540-kilometre strategic high-speed rail link between Tibet and Nepal passing through a tunnel under Mt Everest, a move that could raise alarm in India about the Communist giant’s growing influence in its neighbourhood.

This is the first time a tunnel plan has been revealed because China had earlier discussed extending the Qinghai-Lhasa line to the Nepalese border without digging a tunnel.

“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.

“The line will probably have to go through Qomolangma so that workers may have to dig some very long tunnels,” railway expert Wang Mengshu told the China Daily, referring to Mount Everest by its Tibetan name.

The idea is to find a short route to Nepal in order to access the vast Indian market in a short time, sources said. China may be trying to involve Nepal in its Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar project because New Delhi has shown less enthusiasm for the BCIM project, they said.

The Lhasa line was extended to Xigaze, the second biggest city in Tibet, which is closer to the Nepalese border as Chinese authorities completed a 253-km long link railway line in August last year.

Restrained by rugged Himalayan mountains with its “remarkable” changes in elevation, trains on the line would probably have a maximum speed of 120 kmph… see more

source: times of india