Kathmandu, December 8
To lay the groundwork to prepare the detailed project report of the much-hyped Kathmandu-Kyirong, Kathmandu-Pokhara and Pokhara-Lumbini railways, a team of senior Chinese officials will be arriving in Kathmandu tomorrow to hold further discussions.
The 15-member Chinese team will be led by An Leshene, deputy minister for National Railway Administration of China.
According to Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT), senior officials of both the nations will review and accelerate the project as per plan.
“The Nepali side will also ask the Chinese team to prepare the detailed engineering report of the railway project during the meeting,” he added.
Adhikari further informed that a joint team of Nepali and Chinese officials will inspect the Kathmandu-Rasuwagadhi rail alignment on Monday and Tuesday and the Kathmandu-Pokhara alignment on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We will review and hold discussions on the pre-feasibility report so as to pave the way for detailed engineering and detailed project reports,” he said.
A joint study team comprising Chinese officials, an engineering team from Chinese consulting firm — China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group, officials from MoPIT, engineers from the Department of Railways (DoRW) of Nepal, and a local consultant will hold discussions on the project.
Earlier, a joint team comprising the Chinese consultant and Nepali consultant had submitted the pre-feasibility report of the project on August 10. The report had stated that the railway project is ‘feasible’. Since then, both the nations have already held two rounds of discussions.
As per the pre-feasibility study of the Kathmandu-Kyirong section, the project is estimated to cost about Rs 275 billion, according to an initial field study conducted last November by a Chinese technical team. The study had further mentioned that around 98.55 per cent section of the railway would be covered by tunnels and bridges.
However, the cost and other issues of Kathmandu-Pokhara and Pokhara-Lumbini sections have not been estimated yet.
Adhikari has stated that though the project is highly complex and challenging and not bankable, both Nepal and China have expressed their commitment to build it at any cost.
However, Nepal and China are yet to discuss the construction and financial modalities of the project. China has expressed interest to construct the railway project with subsidised loans. However, Nepal has been insisting that the project be built with Chinese grant.
The planned railway network from China has currently reached Shigatse in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and is expected to reach Kyirong by 2022. Kyirong is located at a distance of 540 kilometres from Shigatse.
A version of this article appears in print on December 09, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.