Kathmandu-Kyirong railway feasible

Kathmandu, August 12

The much hyped 75-kilometre long Kathmandu-Kyirong railway project is feasible according to a study report. The pre-feasibility report shows that the project is feasible and has suggested the Nepal government to hold discussions to take the project forward.

“The Chinese consultant company has submitted a draft of the pre-feasibility report to the ministry and suggested the government to move ahead with the project,” said Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT).

A joint study team comprising of Chinese officials, an engineering team from Chinese consulting firm named China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group, officials and engineers from the Department of Railways (DoRW), Nepal and the local consultant had started the pre-feasibility works on May 22. Nepal and China had agreed to conduct the pre-feasibility study on May 7.

“Though the Chinese consultant firm had made a commitment to submit the pre-feasibility report by the end of this month, it did so on August 10 itself,” informed Adhikari.

The report reveals that the process to construct the railway project is complex, however since the rock foundation of the area is good the project will be a durable one.

The Chinese government authority, National Railway Administration, which is spearheading the railway project, has invited a high-level Nepali government delegation to further discuss on the project.

The meeting to discuss the pre-feasibility report is scheduled for August 18-22, according to Adhikari. He further said that the meeting will be held in Chinese city of Xi'an and he will be leading the Nepali delegation.

“The Chinese consultant company will present the final copy of the pre-feasibility report of the project in the presence of high-level government authorities of both the nations during the meeting,” he added. “Since the draft report shows that there is some geological complexity to build the project we will focus on the level of complexity of the project and will decide on an appropriate way to build the project.”

According to Adhikari, the high-level meeting is expected to endorse the pre-feasibility report and ask the consultant firm to prepare the detailed engineering report of the railway project.

“The project is highly complex and challenging but Nepal and China have committed to build it. We know that the project is not bankable, yet both the governments have made a commitment to build it at any cost and we will not even be conducting an internal rate of return analysis,” he stated.

Adhikari further added that the pre-feasibility report will suggest the initial financial and technical modalities of the project.

To hold further discussions on the railway project, Adhikari will be leading a nine-member team to China. Members will include representatives from MoPIT, DoRW and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After the initial field study last November, a Chinese technical team led by Jhang Lee Yang, deputy administrator of National Railway Administration, had suggested that the project was technically feasible and estimated it would cost about Rs 69 billion to build the project.

The planned railway network from China has currently reached Shigatse in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and it is expected to reach Kyirong by 2022. Kyirong is located at a distance of 540 kilometres from Shigatse.