KATHMANDU: Despite the halt in the feasibility study of the Kathmandu-Kerung railway due to Covid-19, the Chinese government has begun a study in it’s own territory, from Singache to Kerung near the Nepal border.
The distance from Kerung to Singache is longer than that from Kerung to Kathmandu because of which, the Chinese government has continued the study in their own area, after facing setbacks with the study of Kathmandu-Kerung railway due to Covid-19.
The distance from Kerung to the border of Nepal is about four to five hundred km. It is 72 km from Rasuwa to Kathmandu towards Nepal. Tokha, Kathmandu has been considered as the starting point.
Balaram Mishra, Director General of the Railway Department, has stated that they have received the information of the study being continued in the Chinese territory. ‘Once the situation returns to normal, the study will continue in Nepal as well’, he said. The Department of Railways has informed that the progress in this study is a positive sign.
The feasibility study report covers the geological study from Kathmandu to Kerung via Trishuli in Nuwakot, including the structure of the geography and the condition of the line. Similarly, special priority has been given to tunnels in the railway. There will be an additional detailed study based on the preliminary study.
The construction of the Kathmandu-Kerung railway has been highly prioritized by both governments of Nepal and China. The National Railway Authority of China had submitted a preliminary study report of the Kathmandu-Kerung railway to the Government of Nepal two years ago.
Since then, discussions had been going on at various levels to take the study ahead. It has been informed that the study will be completed in three phases.
The first phase is an aerial survey, the second a geological investigation and the third a railway alignment. It is estimated that it will take about two years to complete all three phases. Furthermore, the study is estimated to cost 200 million Chinese yen. However, the study on China’s economic investment is moving forward.
The railway agreement had reached a consensus during the visit of Chinese President Xi-Jinping to Nepal in September last year. Based on the political agreement, work was set to begun in November. During the same visit, the Chinese team had submitted a report on the feasibility study of the Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway.
After the Chinese government had shown their interest in the Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway, the pre-feasibility study was conducted with an investment undertaken by the Chinese government. The study showed that a railway from Kathmandu to Lumina via Pokhara was possible.
Among the important documents signed on the occasion of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s visit to China was the Protocol to the Transit and Transport Agreement, which established Nepal’s access to three Chinese seaports and four other seaports.
Similarly, the Trans-Himalayan Multilateral Connectivity Network and the Nepal-China Border Railway are believed to be beneficial in expanding the connectivity between China and Nepal.