Lanqing railway is the first step of an ambitious plan set by the People's Republic of China to connect Tibet with the rest of China by railway. LanQing railway, designed in 1956 and built from May 1958 to September 1959, runs for 188km, connecting Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province, and Xining, the capital city of Qinghai province. It is currently the only railway that connects the Qinghai-Tibet region with the rest of China.
The second step of the original plan is the Qingzang railway, a 1956km railway that starts from Xining, first runs westbound to the city of Golmud, also in Qinghai province, then southbound towards Tibet, and finally ends in Lhasa. This plan proved to be very challenging as the Qinghai-Tibet plateau is some of the highest terrain in the world. The 814km segment between Xining and Golmud was completed in 1979 and became operational in 1984. However, the final segment of the QingZang railway, from Golmud to Lhasa, was put on hold for almost two decades due to the high elevation and complex terrain of the region. This project was revived again in 2001, and was finally completed in October 2005. After signalling work and track testing it was inaugurated on 1 July 2006.