Chinese team wraps up field study of rail project

Kathmandu, November 9

A high-level Chinese technical team led by Jhang Lee Yang, deputy administrator of National Railway Administration, has completed the field visit of proposed Kyirong-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini Railway Project today. A joint team of Chinese and Nepal’s Department of Railway (DoRW) officials had started the field study on Tuesday from Kyirong in China.

“The high-level team that was being supported by another consultation team has completed the field visit today. I believe that they are positive about developing railway connectivity between the two countries,” said Prakash Upadhyaya, spokesperson for DoRW.

The Chinese team will brief their findings to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport on Friday. According to Upadhyaya, the technical team will submit the report to the Chinese government after they return to China.

Before the high-level team came to Kathmandu, 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, however it has not been provided to the representatives from DoRW.

The government had included the railway project in the budget of fiscal year 2016-17 and targeted to finalise the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the project within two years. However, due to delays in the decision making process and finalising the construction model, the railway project has been delayed.

DoRW has prepared the initial design of the 287-kilometre-long rail project. One section of the project will run parallel to the road from Kathmandu to Galchhi of Dhading. According to Upadhyaya, the railway track will take a different route on Galchhi-Pokhara section. The DoRW has already completed the feasibility study of the 187-km Kathmandu-Pokhara segment.

The Chinese team will also conduct a study of the sites where tunnels, bridges and other physical structures related to the project can be constructed. “They will finalise the most feasible model to implement the project. If both the Nepali and Chinese governments are satisfied and give a go-ahead then the process of DPR will begin,” Upadhyaya informed.

A few months back, the DoRW had proposed to the Chinese government seeking cooperation to construct the railway project. However, a top-level official at the DoRW has some reservations on whether the project will be implemented.

“High-level political commitment is necessary to complete the project. What we have done till date is just from the bureaucratic level. If the government that will be formed after the forthcoming elections shows commitment then the Chinese government will provide

assistance to construct the project,” the high-ranking official at DoRW said, seeking anonymity.

During the China visit of then prime minister KP Sharma Oli, the Nepal government and government of China had agreed on economic and technical assistance for the railway project on March 21, 2016. Moreover, during the Nepal visit of Deputy Prime Minister of China Wang Yang in May this year, the Sino government had repeated its commitment to assist the project.