The Tanggula Railway Station sits on the vast Tibetan Plateau, a high-altitude landscape beset by permafrost. But despite its bleak isolation, this lonely, unstaffed railway station has a lofty claim to fame: at 16,627 feet above sea level, it’s the highest railway station in the world.
The 1,215-mile-long Qingzang Railway runs from Qinghai to Lhasa, passing through many desolate and barely habitable landscapes. It was an astounding feat of construction, and one that had to overcome numerous problems, particularly on the Golmud to Lhasa section where workers had to contend with both extremely high altitudes and permafrost.
Upon its completion, however, the railway was rewarded with a handful of world records. It was recognized as being the highest railway in the world, with the world’s highest railway tunnel (the Fenghuoshan Tunnel) and the world’s highest railway station.
The Tanggula Railway Station was inaugurated on July 1, 2006, along with the Golmud to Lhasa section of the Qingzang Railway. The platform stretches for more than half a mile, but the station’s facilities are almost as stark as the landscape surrounding it.
The station is unstaffed, and while some trains do stop here briefly, passengers normally have to remain on the train. The surrounding area is pretty much uninhabited, and the station serves as a stop-off for repairs or emergencies, with few, if any, passengers actually wanting to disembark at Tanggula.
But the view from the station (or from the train as it stops or passes by) is impressive. And less than a mile from the station is the Tanggula Pass, which at 16,640 feet above sea level is the highest point of the Qingzang Railway.