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Kathmandu-Raxaul railway project in limbo



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By Sanchita Ghimire, Kathmandu, Sept 13: A good three years have passed 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 with Raxaul of Bihar State in India.

Although the preliminary study of this project has been done, it could not go for the construction with additional study as the two countries are yet to sign an agreement to that effect.    

Deepak Bhattarai, Director General of the Department of Railways, said the process would be forwarded for the construction of the railway project only after a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is signed by the Government of Nepal and the Government of India. According to him, the MoU on this is ready.    

"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. As he said, although the first phase of work regarding the project has been done, more important works remained.    

"The final location survey would be done through the detailed study to be done now. 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.    

A preliminary study shows that the railway will be 135 kilometres long. Bhattarai said the amount of investment for the construction of the railway is not yet ascertained. According to him, the amount would be fixed after the detailed study is done and discussions would be held on how to mobilize it on the basis of the same.    

The modality of the investment is 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. It has taken high charges for transporting goods from India on vehicles. As a result of relatively low transportation fees, prices of goods imported from India would decrease.    

The process to construct the East-West electric railway has been moved forward with the investments of the government itself.    

Likewise, as per the agreement between the governments of Nepal and India in 2012 to construct a railway at five different places in Nepal, two railway projects, one Kathmandu-Raxaul railway and another Bathanaha-Biratnagar railway—are in the process of construction.    

Construction of 10 kilometres of the 18-kilometres Bathanaha-Biratnagar railway has been completed so far, it has been said. The other three projects have yet to start.    

There had been a railway service between Raxaul and Amlekhgunj in 1984 BS during the Rana regime. Jayanagar-Janakpur railway service was also operational during 1994 BS.