A passenger train rolled out of the Railway Station of Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province at 6:18 p.m. Saturday, heading for Lhasa, capital of neighboring Tibet Autonomous Region.
The train carries more than 900 passengers. It runs more than 3, 360 kilometers and is expected to arrive at the terminal of Lhasa in 48 hours and 10 minutes.
According to officials with Chengdu Railway Bureau, the train runs along four major rail lines, namely Baoji-Chengdu, Lianyungang-Lanzhou, Lanzhou-Xining and Qinghai-Tibet, linking all major cities in northwest and southwest China regions.
The train is scheduled to stop at six stations before arriving in Lhasa at 6:28 p.m. on July 3.
Passengers can keep the train tickets, valuable souvenir marking the first train from Chengdu to Lhasa, for personal collection, railway officials said, adding that railway workers will skip off the process to scissor a small cut on the paper ticket, as they usually do, in order to maintain the ticket intact.
Inside the railway cars, all the Chinese words that appear on the electronic screens are translated into Tibetan and English.
Two oxygen supply systems have been installed on the train. One is a "dispersion-mode" oxygen supply system, with oxygen spreading to the air in the railway car through the air-conditioning system.
The other system, like that of an airplane, offers each passenger individual access to oxygen, and passengers who experience breathing difficulties at high altitudes can use a pipe to suck up more oxygen.
Meanwhile, all railway cars are equipped with double-layer glass which is covered with anti-ultraviolet radiation film.
Seat covers on the train are embroidered with designs of giant pandas, an endangered species that boasts a large habitat in Sichuan, and Tibetan antelopes, also a rare species.
The train offers both Sichuan dishes and Tibetan meals.
Xiao Wen, a 24-year-old train attendant who serves the first Chengdu-Lhasa train, said together with other 600 train attendants for Qinghai-Tibet Railway operation, she received a one-month long special training on Tibetan custom, English, the Tibetan language, medical treatment and plateau environment before the railway's operation.
A local passenger of Chengdu told Xinhua after filling out a form about health information for the sake of emergency treatment on train that a tour to Tibet has long been his dream and the railway helps him realize the dream.
Some seven hours before the train from Chengdu to Lhasa, the first train on Qinghai-Tibet Railway left Lhasa for Lanzhou, capital of northwestern Gansu Province, at 11:12 a.m., marking Tibetans' first access to rail transport.
At 8:07 p.m., a train set out from the railway station of Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, for Lhasa. At 21:30 p.m., a train from Beijing is scheduled to start its tour to Tibet and will arrive in Lhasa station in some 48 hours.
The train "Tibet 2" carries about 700 passengers with 16 carriages. It travels more than 2,100 kilometers across "the roof of the world" and is expected to arrive at the terminal of Lanzhou, provincial capital of Gansu, in some 30 hours.
President Hu Jintao attended a launching ceremony held at Golmud, another start-off point of the landmark railroad in Qinghai Province, and cut the red ribbon for the opening of the railway.
President Hu delivered a keynote speech at the gala held at the Golmud Railway Station, saying that the opening to traffic of the Qinghai-Tibet railway is another magnificent accomplishment the country has achieved in socialist modernization drive.
Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railroad is a long-cherish dream of generations of the Chinese people, Hu said.
"The project is not only a magnificent feat in China's history of railway construction, but is also a great miracle of the world's railroad history," he said.
Hu said that this successful practice has made it clear again to the people at large that diligent and intelligent Chinese people are ambitious, self-confident and capable of continuously making extraordinary achievements, and they are ambitious, self- confident and capable of standing amongst the world's advanced nations.
Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan presided over the launching ceremony, which was also attended by Party chiefs of Tibet and Qinghai.
Liu Zhijun, minister of railways, also attended the ceremony. He said that the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railway was a strategic decision made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, and it is an unprecedented difficult job in human's history.
More than 2,000 merrymaking people hailed the historic moment at the square in front of the newly-built two-story Lhasa Railway Station, which stands on the south bank of the Lhasa River, 30 kilometers from the holy Potala Palace.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's longest plateau railroad, stretches 1,956 kilometers from Qinghai's provincial capital Xining to Lhasa. The section of 814 km from Xining to Golmud began operation in 1984 and the Golmud-Lhasa section started construction on June 29, 2001.