"All aboard!"

Yaks threaten China's 'miracle' train line

From the The Guardian

The safety of passengers on the world's highest - and newest - railway is threatened by cracks, yaks and shifting sands, the Chinese government has admitted.

Less than a month after the opening of the line across the Himalayas to Tibet, it has become unstable in places because the foundations are sinking into the permafrost, railway ministry spokesman Wang Yongping, told the Beijing News today.

Crossing the rugged Qinghai plateau and climbing to 5,072 metres (16,640ft) above sea level, the $4.2bn (£2.3bn) railway was hailed by president Hu Jintao as an engineering miracle for the world. But it was always likely to be harder to maintain than to build. ....

Tunnels were built under elevated sections so that the endangered Tibetan antelope could pass by without danger. But planners have failed to cope with a far less timid and more numerous beast - the yak, thousands of which graze along the tracks and wander across them.

"These form dangers to passengers on the train," Mr Wang said

[In this situation, I favor the yaks, the sand and the Tibetans. The new railroad from China to Tibet is a fine example of a "political artifact," in this case a transportation system whose main purpose is to establish the dominance of the state over a region that has long tried to secure its independence. - LW]