China's first train from Beijing to Tibet began the final leg of its journey Monday on the world's highest railway, climbing past 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) on the Tibetan plateau and causing pens and packaged foods aboard to burst in the thin air.
Some passengers began breathing piped-in oxygen from tubes to cope with the high altitude. A few hundred meters from the track, Tibetan antelope and wild donkeys grazed beneath stunning vistas of snow-capped mountains and deep-blue skies as the train rolled through the sparsely populated region.
The train, which left Beijing on Saturday, was due to arrive in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa late Monday evening, capping a 48-hour, 4,000-kilometer (2,500-mile) journey.
The US$4.2 billion railway is part of the government's efforts to develop China's poor, restive west and bind it more closely to the country's booming east.