Kyirong-Lumbini Railway technically feasible, informs Chinese team

Kathmandu, November 10

The high-level Chinese technical team has said the Kyirong-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini Railway Project is technically feasible to construct. After the field study, the technical team led by Jhang Lee Yang, deputy administrator of National Railway Administration, has suggested that the project is technically feasible.

During a meeting with Secretary of Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Devendra Karki today, the Chinese team said they were willing to help to construct the project. “The Chinese team suggested that the project is technically feasible and they are positive about helping us.”

The technical team had studied the possible route of the railway project — Kyirong-Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini. A joint team of Chinese and Nepal’s Department of Railway (DoRW) officials had started the field study on Tuesday from Kyirong in China and concluded the study on Thursday in Lumbini.

Karki also informed that the Chinese technical team had mentioned that the route along which the railway project is planned to be built lies in difficult terrain and they would be able to confirm about other details only after the detailed project report (DPR) is completed. “They pointed out that more study needs to be conducted as the possible route lies in difficult topography,” he said.

According to Karki, representatives from both the countries have agreed to continue with the

discussions to move the project ahead. After the meeting, Karki and Yang signed on the initial

understanding to construct the railway project.

Prakash Upadhyaya, spokesperson for DoRW, said strong political commitment from Nepal is needed to implement the project. “The Chinese team is positive about assisting us, however, we cannot take any far-reaching decisions at the bureaucratic level. Political ommitment is needed to construct the railway project,” he said.

DoRW has prepared the initial design of the 287-kilometre-long rail project. The Chinese team has also conducted a study of the sites where tunnels, bridges and other physical structures related to the project can be constructed.

A few months back, the DoRW had proposed to the Chinese government seeking cooperation to construct the railway project. The Chinese government had sent the high-level technical team as per the request of DoRW.

The government had included the railway project in the budget of fiscal year 2016-17 and targeted to finalise the 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.

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.

The Chinese government is currently constructing a railway project from Lhasa to Sigatse and has planned to expand it to Kyirong — the sole trading point between the two countries.