Chinese team arriving today to study two railway lines

Published On: November 6, 2017 05:30 AM NPT By: Santosh Neupane  | @santyneupane

The team is scheduled to visit Kerung, Pokhara and Lumbini.

KATHMANDU, Nov 6: A high-level Chinese delegation is arriving in Kathmandu on Monday to conduct preliminary study for the development of railway network in Nepal.

The team led by Zheng Jian, deputy administrator (vice minister) of National Railway Administration of the People's Republic of China will visit Kerung, Pokhara and Lumbini for the preliminary study. The 23-member delegation includes officials China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Transport, members of National Commission, and Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu as well as representatives of banks, contractors, experts and consultants, among others. 

Prakash Bhakta Upadhyaya, the spokesperson for Department of Railway, informed that the main objective of the delegation is to study infrastructure development in Nepal, including railway projects. 

Nepal and China have already signed initial agreement for building a railway line from Kerung of Tibet Autonomous Region of China to Kathmandu. The northern neighbor has also promised to provide technical assistance to Nepal to conduct feasibility study of building a railway line from Kathmandu to Lumbini via Pokhara. 

During former foreign affairs minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara's visit to China in September, Beijing has expressed commitment to conduct a detailed project survey, design and feasibility study to build the cross-border railway line between Nepal and China at the earliest in a bid to lay groundwork for a possible China-Nepal-India economic corridor. 

Earlier in May, Chinese Vice Prime Minister Wang Yang said that China will provide financial support for the construction of the cross-border railway line. The railway project connecting Kathmandu with Kerung is also in the priority of Nepal.

Participants of the delegation, as well as officials of Nepal's Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and Department of Railway, are also visiting Kerung of China as well as Pokhara and Lumbini of Nepal.

Officials of Nepal and China are holding a meeting at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport before embarking on field visit, according to Upadhyaya. The ministry will also host second round of meeting after the team returns from field study to share findings of the field study.

“The main objective of the visit is to discuss and study railway projects of Nepal. The Chinese delegation will conduct initial study of the proposed railway route between Kerung and Kathmandu as well as Kathmandu and Lumbini via Pokhara.

Earlier, Chinese company China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC) had expressed its interest to carry out engineering survey and design of the cross-border railway line. 

Nepal does not have railway service at present. The work to lay down 35-kilometer railway track between Jayanagar of India and Kurtha of Dhanusha is about to be completed. However, the government has not taken any decision to buy railway engines and carriages to start the service.

The feasibility study of Kathmandu-Pokhara Railway Project has already been completed. According to the study report, the 187-kilometer railway line will connect six districts -- Kathmandu, Dhading, Gorkha, Tanahun, Nuwakot and Kaski. The railway service between Kathmandu and Pokhara is expected to reduce travel distance significantly. At present, the journey of Kathmandu-Pokhara journey takes around six hours.

Another mega-project this is under construction is the East-West Railway. The railway line goes parallel to the East-West Highway, formerly Mahendra Highway. But physical progress of the project is very minimal. Detailed Project Report (DPR) of two packages of the project and some work of laying down tracks has begun in Bardibas of Dhanusha. Similarly, work to prepare DPR of Bardibas-Butwal, Bardibas-Inaruwa and Inaruwa-Kakarbhitta sections is underway.

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