BEIJING (AFP) — China will launch "the most luxurious train in the world" to ply the route from Beijing to Tibet's capital Lhasa, state media reported Sunday.
However, a ride on the train, which will begin operations on September 1, will be about 20 times more expensive than the ordinary fare of about 2,000 yuan (280 dollars), Xinhua news agency said.
"The interior of the train will be decorated according to the standards of a five-star hotel, making it the most luxurious train in the world," said Zhu Mingrui, general manager of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Corporation.
"Such a train can only seat 96 passengers. The fare would be about 20 times the normal price and also much more than an airline ticket," he said.
There will be three trains, which will head from Beijing to Lhasa every eight days. The luxury journey will take five days.
Each train will have 12 passenger cars, two dining cars and a sightseeing car. Each passenger car will have four ten-square-metre (108-square-foot) suites featuring a double bed, a living room and bathing facilities.
The train line to the Himalayan "roof of the world" went into operation in July 2006.
Chinese authorities see the 1,142-kilometre (710-mile) railway as an important tool in modernising and developing Tibet, which has been part of China since its troops occupied the region in 1950.
However, critics say that the line is allowing the Han Chinese, the national majority, to flood into Tibet, leading to the devastation of the local culture as well accelerating environmental degradation of the region.
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