Feasibility study estimates construction cost to hover around Rs 265 billion

Kathmandu, October 30

The government has finalised a Preliminary Engineering and Traffic (PET) report of proposed 135-kilometre-long Kathmandu-Birgunj electric rail, which has estimated the construction cost of the project to stand at around Rs 265 billion.

An Indian firm named Kanekar Consulting Engineers (KCE) had conducted the feasibility study and submitted the initial draft of the report to the Nepal and Indian governments on May 7.

As the PET report has already been submitted, the Department of Railways (DoRW) is hoping that both the governments will expedite further processes, including conducting detailed engineering study and detailed project report of the project. However, nothing has been decided yet.

Balaram Mishra, director general of DoRW, said the report has suggested four alternative routes of the railway. The alternative routes include 135-kilometre-long Raxaul-Jitpur-Nijgadh-Shikharpur-Sisnery-Kathmandu; 171-km-long Raxaul-Jitpur-Hatiya-Hetauda-Satikhel-Kathmandu; 191-km-long Raxaul-Jitpur-Nijgadh-Hetauda-Satikhel-Kathmandu; and 191-km-long Raxaul-Jitpur-Nijgadh-Shikharpur-Satikhel-Kathmandu.

The India firm had suggested conducting further studies on the first alternative route — the 135-kilometre-long Raxaul-Jitpur-Nijgadh-Shikharpur-Sisnery-Kathmandu — citing lower construction cost and shortest distance.

As per Mishra, the PET report has identified the places along the route where 42-km-long tunnel, bridges and other necessary railway infrastructure would need to be built. The report has said that 13 railway stations would need to be set up and altogether around 900 hectares of land would need be acquired for the project.

As per DoRW, around 20 per cent of railway line will comprise of tunnels and bridges. The electric rail will also transport cargo containers, which is expected to significantly minimise the transport cost.

During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal on May 11 and 12 last year, both the countries had agreed on effective implementation of bilateral initiatives in agriculture, railway linkages and inland waterways development.

The Indian prime minister had assured that the entire cost to construct the railway from Kathmandu to Raxaul would be covered by the Indian government, including establishment of an

office, pre-feasibility study, detailed feasibility study (DFS) and detailed project report (DPR).

“Unless there is a government-to-government deal and political will, the construction of this much hyped railway cannot be realised,” Mishra added.