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Improving transportation infrastructure is a vital part of China's western development strategy, and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is one of the blueprint's most vivid symbols. As our reporter Zhang Lu finds out, the picturesque "Road to Heaven" is now becoming a long awaited "Road to Prosperity."
The train is speeding on the world's highest railway destination Lhasa.
This is the first railway to connect central Tibet to the outside world.
Four years after its operation, the railway has played an increasingly crucial role in stimulating the region's economic development.
Tourism is among the first industries to thrive.
Unique scenes of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau can be seen along the railway line For many visitors, going to Lhasa by train has become an interesting facet of their Tibetan trip."
Tan Zhiqiang and Zhang Minlin are heading to Lhasa for the first time. They are impressed by the scenery and say the only drawback is train won't stop for them to take pictures.
Tan Zhiqiang, tourist from Shandong, said, "The scenery along the railway is picturesque. It's really terrific. I think the route design of the railway is very good."
Zhang Minlin, tourist from Shandong, said, "It's so beautiful. At the beginning, we thought of coming over by airplane. We were wise that we didn't."
Convenient traffic is a basic guarantee for the development of tourism. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway has broken the bottleneck.
In the past four years, the railway has transported more than 29 million passengers. What they brought to Tibet is soaring tourism revenue, employment and the development of related sectors including hotels and catering.
Smooth cargo flow ensured by the railway is also changing the economic fundamentals in Tibet.
Ni Ma is the head of Sema village which is near the railway line. He opened a logistics company after the railway went into operation.
Ni Ma said, "The railway helps in raising farmers' income and our life has improved greatly."
Ni Ma now has more than 60 employees, all from his village. Their average income is about 1200 yuan a month.
Currently, the railway has become the most important mode of cargo transportation between Tibet and the inland areas.
Li Jinquan, worker of Sema Logistics, said, "This ore powder will be sent to Xining. Before, we relied on auto transportation only, now by railway, the transportation is cheaper and faster."
The railway lowered transport costs by more than 60 percent.
This has made Tibet's commodities competitive, saved more profits for local companies and made daily necessities and durable goods cheaper.
The railway has become an economic artery for Tibet. With an average GDP growth rate of more than 12 percent in the past two years. Tibet's economy is now right on track.
Ni Ma, general manager of Sema Logistics, said, "I believe that our business will expand daily, the prospects are boundless."
Based on successful experience, China approved two projects to extend the Qinghai-Tibet Railway from Lhasa to Xigeze and Nyingchi. The extensions are to be completed by 2020.
CCTV reporter Zhang Lu said, "Many call the Qinghai-Tibet Railway a "Road to Heaven." But the significance of the enormous project is far more than overcoming construction difficulties ... to ensure the road to heaven can lead locals to economic prosperity and a better life."