The Chinese government will spend 13 million yuan (US$1.61 million) on an earthquake warning system along the southern section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which began trial operations on Saturday.
Two comprehensive seismic monitoring stations and a global positioning system observation center are to be constructed along the Golmud-Lhasa section to form a seismic alarm network with the existing monitoring station at Nagqu Township, said Peng Fengshan, head of the Tibet Autonomous Region Seismological Bureau.
Earthquake monitoring on the plateau railway is crucial because Tibet has entered a seismologically active period that would last until about 2014, Peng said.
"The Golmud-Lhasa section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway passes through a region where moderate quakes measuring up to six on the Richter scale occur annually," Peng added.
However, he played down concerns by saying previous quakes were barely noticeable because the epicenters were far from the rail route.
Peng said construction would be finished before the end of the 11th Five-year Plan period (2006 to 2010), and with the system in place, any damage would be minimal.
The 1,956-kilometer Qinghai-Tibet Railway runs across the frozen tundra of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from Lhasa to Xining, capital of Qinghai Province. The section between Golmud and Lhasa extends 1,142 kilometers.
The railway, completed last October, is the highest and longest highland railroad in the world and the first to connect Tibet with other parts of China.
(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2006)