CHINA: Construction of a 253 km railway from Tibet’s capital Lhasa to its second-largest city Xigaze formally began on September 26, when officials laid a ceremonial foundation stone and watched cultural performances. Construction is expected to take four years at a cost of 13·3bn yuan.The single-track line will pass through difficult terrain including the 90 km Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, requiring 155 km of the route to be on bridges or in tunnel. The alignment is designed for operation at up to 120 km/h, and has been selected to avoid four nature reserves as well as drinking water sources. The railway ‘will play a vital role in boosting tourism in the southwestern part of Tibet and promoting the rational use of resources along the line’, said Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun. It will have the capacity to carry 8·3 million tonnes of freight a year, but projections for passenger traffic have not been announced. The line forms an extension of the railway to Lhasa which opened in July 2006. Another line is being planned from Lhasa to the Nyingchi prefecture, with a view to construction getting underway in 2013.
WELLINGTON: Two-times World Player of the year Beauden Barrett will make his first Super Rugby appearance of the season when the Wellington Hurricanes take on the ACT Brumbies on Friday but his younger brother Jordie has been left out of the side. The elder Barrett got married in the off-season and only returned to the Hurricanes last week after having an extended break. He told reporters last week he had negotiated a late return because of the World Cup in Japan later in the year. The flyhalf had been keen to play in last weekend’s 38-22 defeat to defending champions Canterbury Crusaders but coach John Plumtree decided to wait another week before bringing him into the side. Fullback Jordie, who played the full 80 minutes in each of the Hurricanes first two games, was left out of the side. All Blacks players are limited to 180 minutes of playing time in the first three weeks of the season. All Blacks blindside flanker Vaea Fifita will make his first appearance following a slow return from a hamstring injury. He managed to play 50 minutes for the Hurricanes’ development side last week. Fellow loose forward Ardie Savea, who missed the Crusaders game, has shifted to number eight from his usual openside flanker role with Gareth Evans sidelined with a calf injury. Plumtree said on Wednesday his team must improve against the Brumbies, who have been labelled one-dimensional in recent years with a reliance on a driving maul but enjoyed a scintillating 54-17 win over the Waikato Chiefs in Canberra last Saturday. “It was a bit of a surprise for them to put 50 (past the Chiefs),” Hurricanes winger Ben Lam told reporters on Wednesday. “But we know they have the personnel (to do that) and … any team with that kind of personnel will do that on their day.” Lam, who scored two tries for the Hurricanes in the second half against the Crusaders, said it was a big week for his side. “This competition is all about momentum,” he added. “Coming off the back of a loss we want to bounce back, not only with a good performance but a win as well to build that momentum back up.” – Reuters