September 14: A good three years have passed by since the preliminary study of the Kathmandu Raxaul Railway construction project was carried out. However, the process for the construction of this project has not moved forward. The railway connects the federal capital of Nepal with Raxaul of Bihar State in India.
Although the preliminary study of this project has been done, the construction works have not been initiated as the two countries are yet to sign an agreement to this effect.
Deepak Bhattarai, Director General of the Department of Railways, said the process would be forwarded only after a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is signed by the Government of Nepal and the Government of India. According to him, the MoU is ready but the date for signing the MoU has not been fixed.
"It (the MoU) is ready for signing between the two countries at an appropriate time," he said.
Director General Bhattarai added that the Indian side had completed the preliminary engineering and traffic survey in 2018. According to him, although the first phase work regarding the project has been done, more important works are still remaining.
"The final location survey would be done through the detailed study. But first the two countries should sign MoU for this," he elaborated.
The Department said it was not immediately in a position to carry ahead works as the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport is without the minister for nearly two months.
Preliminary study shows that the railway will be 135 kilometres long. Bhattarai said the investment for the construction of the railway is not yet secured. According to him, the amount would be fixed after the detailed study is done and discussions would be held how to mobilize the amount.
The modality of the investment is also not yet clear. Whether to approach the Indian government or any other donor agencies for the investment would be decided only after the exact investment of the project is available.
The railway project is expected to minimise transportation costs of supplies made from India. As a result of relatively low transportation fees, prices of goods imported from India would decrease.
Meanwhile, the process to construct the East-West electric railway has been moved forward with the investments of the government itself.
The governments of Nepal and India had reached an understanding in 2012 to construct railway at five different places in Nepal. Among them, two railway projects, one Kathmandu-Raxaul railway and another Bathanaha-Biratnagar railway—are in the process of construction.
Likewise, the construction of 10 kilometres of the 18-kilometres Bathanaha-Biratnagar railway has been completed so far. Other three projects are yet to start.
There used to be railway service between Raxaul and Amlekhgunj in 1984 BS during the Rana regime. Jayanagar-Janakpur railway service was also operational during 1994 BS. -- RSS