May 17, 2006

China to offer karaoke trains to roof of world

BEIJING (Reuters) - Ticket to Tibet, sir? That'll be $1,000
a day. But at least you'll be able to have a good sing on the

China is planning to offer luxury trains to the roof of the
world when it opens a long anticipated and highly controversial
railway to Tibet in July, a state newspaper said on Thursday.

The five-star trains, aimed mainly at foreigners, will have
showers, on board folk dance shows and that staple of the
Chinese holiday experience -- karaoke, the Beijing Times

So luxurious will the train be that it is only going to
carry around 100 passengers, as it sweeps through the snowy
mountains of mainly Buddhist Tibet at such high elevations the
carriages are going to be pressurized like aircraft, the
newspaper said.

The trip from Beijing to Lhasa is expected to take at least
48 hours.

China hopes the railway will help develop one of the
country's poorest and most remote regions, but Tibetan rights
activists fear it will lead to a flood of Chinese immigrants
and some are calling for a tourist boycott of the line.

China has also promised it will be the world's first
environmentally friendly railway, passing as it does through
fragile ecosystems that are home to endangered species.

While the deluxe trains will cost passengers many times
more than an ordinary ticket, they are at least cheaper than
the super luxury trips being offered in conjunction with the
Tibet government.

They will cost $12,000 a seat, organizers said last week,
though that wil include a personalized tour of the Dalai Lama's
traditional home, the Potala Palace.