One of the main draws of Golmud is its place on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway (Qīngzàng Tiělù, 青藏铁路). A high-tech feat of engineering, the 1142 km (709 mi) railway crosses inhospitable terrain included some 550 km (340 mi) of permafrost. Tracks run on elevated bridges above the most delicate permafrost to prevent the train from warming the ground. Other parts are located on elevated mounds designed with a series of tubes to keep the ground cool and stable.
Much of the line runs at altitudes as high as 4,000 m (13,000 ft). With that in mind, the sealed cars are specially designed to protect passengers from the repercussions of travel at the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau with regulated oxygen levels and UV filters on the windows to keep out the glare of the sun.
While the Golmud to Lhasa section wasn't opened until 2006, the less complicated Xining to Golmud section has been operating since 1984. The two sections together stretch a total of 1956 km (1215 mi).
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