By Our Reporter
A Chinese technical team that recently made field visits to Kyirung, Pokhara, Lumbini and Kathmandu concluded that Kyirung-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway was possible.
The 23-member high-level team, led by Zheng Jian, Vice Minister of the National Railway Administration of the People’s Republic of China, and officials of the Railway Department of Nepal, had made the field visits to access the possibility of building railways from Kyirung, to Lumbini and the team concluded that the proposed railway from China to Nepal was possible.
The Chinese government is working to expand the railway service to Kyirung on the Nepal-China border by 2020.
The team also estimated the preliminary cost of constructing the railway track from Kyirong of China to Kathmandu at Rs. 275 billion.
However, officials at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport said the proposed cost was just for the railway line to be constructed straight to Kathmandu from Kyirong.
The team, after returning to Kathmandu from the field visit in Pokhara and Lumbini, had met officials at the ministry and briefed them about the findings.
However, the team took the difficult topography in Nepal and the legal provisions in acquiring land and forest areas through which the railway line will pass as major challenges to developing railway in Nepal.
During the visit field, the Chinese team had also conducted a study of the sites where tunnels, bridges and other physical structures related to the project would be constructed.
The officials of Nepal and China are scheduled to meet again within 2017 to further discuss the issues relating to railways.
Nepal stressed building railways especially after India in 2015 imposed blockade against Nepal. And if all goes well, Nepal will be connected with the Chinese railways in the next one decade.
However, before reaching the stage of construction, the project requires several stages of bilateral talks at high and technical levels. The fate of the railway also depends on the results of the upcoming elections to the central parliament. If the country heads towards political stability, Nepali people will be able to see trains passing through the slopes of the Trishuli River in less than 15 years.
Before the high-level team came to Kathmanndu, the Chinese government had sent a group of consultants for a preliminary study. The consultants have already submitted their preliminary report to the high-level technical team.
The government had included the railway project in the budget of fiscal year 2016-17 and aimed at finalising the DPR of the project within two years.
The Department of Railways (DoRW) has prepared the initial design of the 287-kilometre railway project.
One section of the project will run parallel to the road from Kathmandu to Galchhi of Dhading. The railway track will take a different route from Galchhi, one heading to Pokahra and another to Kathmandu.
During the China visit of former prime minister KP Sharma Oli, the Government of China had agreed to provide economic and technical assistance for the railway project in Nepal on March 21, 2016.
During the Nepal visit of Deputy Prime Minister of China Wang Yang in May this year, the Chinese government had reiterated its commitment to assist in the project.