October 11: Nepal and India have agreed to conduct a detailed study of Kathmandu-Raxaul Railway almost three and a half years after signing a Memorandum of Understanding to construct a cross-border railway line between the two countries.
Following the recent agreement, officials of the Konkan Railway Corporation of India will come to Nepal immediately after Dashain for the study.
A meeting of the Nepal-India Cross Border Railway Taskforce held in India on Wednesday and Thursday has agreed to complete the study in 18 months. Keshav Kumar Sharma, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, who led the Nepali delegation during the meeting, informed that the officials of the Indian company would visit Nepal after Dashain and start their study.
A MoU was signed between the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in March 2018 to move the project forward.
The study of the railway will be conducted under grant assistance from India. The Indian side has not informed Nepal about the cost of the study.
The Indian team will prepare its report after studying the route from Raxaul-Jitpur-Nijgadh-Shikharpur-Sisneri-Satikhel to Kathmandu. According to a preliminary study, the distance of the railway will be 136 km and the cost estimate is expected to be Rs 300 billion.
Director General of the Department of Railway Deepak Kumar Bhattarai informed that the final report will be prepared by the Indian side after a detailed study which will include aspects of engineering, finance and technology. Once the report is ready, the Government of India will be requested for investment. Nepal will have to manage other sources of investment if assistance from the Indian government is not received.
At a time when the country is struggling to manage investment for the East-West electric railway, Nepal faces a mounting challenge to mobilize resources to invest in the cross-border railways.