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Launch date set for luxury trains from Beijing to Tibet (12/17/07)


 SHANGHAI, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- A launch date of September, 2008 for a luxury passenger train service from Beijing to Tibet targeting the luxury market, has been fixed, operators said.

    Ticket sale for the service, called the Tangula luxury train project, will begin in February and trial operations will start after May, said Josh Brookhart, co-founder of TZG Partners, a Shanghai-based investment company.

    The luxury journey to the Tibetan capital Lhasa will take five days and cost about 5,000 U.S. dollars for each passenger, according to Brookhart.

    There will be three train sets, which will run three services every eight days to Tibet when regular operation begins.

    "Our target customers are foreigners who fly to China on business trips and the new-rich in China," said Brookhart, who is optimistic about the market for the luxury train service.

    Passengers can stop to sightsee at tourist sites such as Shaanxi's provincial capital Xi'an, Qinghai Take and Tangula mountain pass along the 4,000-km-long rail route.

    Each train set, which can seat 96 passengers, has 12 passengercars, two dining cars and a sight-seeing car. Each passenger car has four 10-square-meter suite-like rooms featuring a double bed, a living room and bathing facilities

    The cars are being built by Bombardier Sifang Power (Qingdao) Transportation Limited in eastern Shandong Province.

The project, approved by the Ministry of Railways in November. will be operated by a joint venture between Rail Partners, a subsidiary of TZG Partners, and Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company. It attracted an investment of 52.9 million U.S. dollars from Hong Kong's Wing On Travel (Holdings) Limited.

    "All sewage and garbage on the trains will be collected and properly disposed of, thus they will not damage the environment of the snow-covered plateau, "said Ben Tsen, managing director of TZG Partners.

    Tsen said the trains would adopt the most advanced environmental protection technologies to reduce the effects on environment as much as possible.

    The Qinghai-Tibet railway from Xi'ning, Qinghai provincial capital, to Lhasa, capital of Tibet, started operation in July 2006, ending Tibet's history without railway.

    Tsen said the company also planned to launch luxury trains from Beijing to Dali and Lijiang in scenic Yunnan Province.



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