Workers unload cargo at Lhasa West Railway Station last month. (PU TAO/FOR CHINA DAILY）
Gyara Gyatso is among hundreds of thousands of Tibetans who have seen great benefits from the railway, which has made traveling more convenient and created many job opportunities.
In Sama village, a 30-minute drive from downtown Lhasa, generations of farmers and nomads have relied on growing highland barley and tending black yaks for their livelihoods.
Before the railway opened, villager Nyima Tsering never imagined that his life would someday depend entirely on his own endeavors, instead of being at the mercy of the weather.
In the beginning, pure luck gave the villagers a small fortune. In 2004, much of Sama's farmland was expropriated for the construction of Lhasa West Railway Station, Tibet's largest freight terminal. The villagers each received compensation of about 150,000 yuan, which freed them from backbreaking farm work.
"At the time, it didn't look like a huge opportunity to most of us. Rather, it bothered us, because the groans of the engines and the blare of the horns broke the tranquility we were used to," Nyima Tsering said.
However, the village Party secretary, who had previously worked for a freight transportation company, saw huge potential in the location. The year the railway began operating, he persuaded the villagers to use some of their savings to found Zhentong Logistics Co.
Nyima Tsering was one of the first to respond to the call, and he became the company's general manager.
Lacking funds for a large-scale operation, he began a trial by buying 30 small vans. However, his long experience of farming could not guarantee a financial harvest, so the company hired a senior manager from Beijing to take the helm for the first two years.
"All goods and materials transported to Tibet via the railway arrive at our station, including oil products, building materials, grains, fertilizer and food. So, our fleets are busy carrying them across the region," Nyima Tsering said.
According to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Co, the station's cargo throughput reached 5.75 million metric tons last year, more than 17 times higher than in 2006.
The station's prosperity has boosted Zhentong Logistics' development; it now operates more than 130 vehicles, and made a profit of more than 4 million yuan last year.