New Delhi/Kathmandu: India and Nepal have signed a MoU to prepare a detailed project report for a proposed $3.15 billion railway line linking Kathmandu with the Indian border town of Raxaul in Bihar.
The broad-gauge line will give the Nepali capital a direct connection with the Indian railway network, enabling non-stop train travel to all Indian cities, the Kathmandu Post reported.
On March 9, the Nepali Cabinet had given an in-principle approval to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to sign a memorandum of understanding with India to create a plan.
According to the MoU, India will finish the detailed project report within 18 months of the commencement of the agreement; and Nepal will facilitate the process. The Indian government will bear the cost of preparing it.
“The signing of the agreement is an important development,” said Aman Chitrakar, spokesperson for the Railways Department, who is among the visiting team in New Delhi.
He said that the detailed project report would study various specifications from contract drawings to detailed technical feasibility and financial feasibility to the execution of the project, the Post reported.
Konkan Railways Corporation has already prepared a pre-feasibility study of the proposed broad-gauge railway project. Once the railway is constructed, goods can be transported directly to Kathmandu from India and third countries.
Currently, shipments originating overseas are brought to the inland container depot in Birgunj by rail and transferred to Kathmandu and other locations by road.
The MoU was signed as part of the India-Nepal 5th Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting and the 7th Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting held in New Delhi from October 6-7, to review implementation of ongoing cross-border railway links and overall bilateral cooperation in the railway sector.
On the Indian side, the JWG was led by Dr. Manoj Singh, Executive Director (Traffic Transportation-Freight), Ministry of Railways, and the PSC by Anurag Bhushan, Joint Secretary, DPA-III Ministry of External Affairs. The Nepali side was led by Keshab Kumar Sharma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, for both meetings.
Both sides signed the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for start of passenger train services on the Jaynagar (in India)-Kurtha (Nepal) section and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Final Location Survey (FLS) of the proposed broad gauge railway line between Raxaul and Kathmandu.
The SOPs provide the technical aspects of running passenger trains on the new section and will serve as a guiding document for early start of rail services in the upcoming cross-border railway links with Nepal. The proposed Raxaul-Kathmandu broad gauge railway line will further boost connectivity between India and Nepal, said an official statement in New Delhi.
Both sides discussed the ongoing works of the Jaynagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas (in Nepal) and Jogbani (Bihar)-Biratnagar (Nepal) broad gauge railway lines between India and Nepal, being developed with grant assistance from Government of India.
The technical preparedness of the completed 34 km long section of the railway line, from Jaynagar (India) to Kurtha (Nepal) for operationalization of passenger train services was also reviewed. The Nepal side informed that necessary regulatory framework will be put in place to facilitate early operationalization.
For the Kurtha to Bilajpura (17.25 km) section of the railway line, the Nepal side assured to provide necessary facilitation for completion of the work at the earliest. Both sides also agreed to expedite the work on completion of the 18.6 km long Jogbani-Biratnagar rail link, and its early operationalization.
The progress on the Raxaul-Kathmandu Broad Gauge Railway Link and Phase-II railway link projects were also discussed. Both sides agreed to enhance technical cooperation in the railway sector, including in the areas of capacity building, logistic support and training of Nepali railway personnel, the statement said.