Nepali team in China to discuss rail from Kyirong to Kathmandu

Kathmandu, April 30

A high-level delegation from Nepal is in China to hold discussions on Kathmandu-Kyirong railway project.

The seven-day visit by the Nepali team follows a similar visit by the high-level Chinese officials.

Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT), is leading a six-member team that left for China on Saturday. The other members of the high-level team include Ananta Acharya, director general of Department of Railways (DoRW); Prakash Bhakta Upadhyaya, senior divisional engineer and spokesperson of DoRW; two joint secretaries from MoPIT and one representative from Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

Before leaving for the trip, Adhikari informed that the team will hold talks on 75-kilometre-long Kathmandu-Kyirong railway project and hinted at the possibility of also discussing the processes for construction modality.

After the field study in November, the Chinese technical team led by Jhang Lee Yang, deputy administrator of National Railway Administration, had suggested that the project was technically feasible.

“The Chinese team had expressed their willingness to help construct the project after the study determined its feasibility,” said Adhikari.

Foreign Affairs Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, during his visit to the northern neighbour last week, had signed an agreement with the Chinese railways authorities to conduct the detailed feasibility study (DFS) utilising the Chinese support.

Adhikari also stated that the discussion will also include financial management and operation modality of the railway project.

Meanwhile, the Chinese railway authorities have already conducted pre-feasibility study of the Kathmandu-Kyirong railway project and they have estimated it would cost about Rs 69 billion to build the project.

“We have also done the necessary homework to discuss the financial and technical aspects of the project with the Chinese authorities during our visit,” Adhikari stated.

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

Adhikari also said that the Nepali team would also explore the possibility of initiating the construction works of the railway from Nepal side so that it can be linked to the railway in Kyirong when the Chinese rail network reaches there. “We believe doing so would also be more cost-effective,” said Adhikari, adding that the ball is nevertheless in the court of China.

The Kathmandu-Kyirong railway will be linked to Nepal's East-West railway network. The 945-km-long railway network has been divided into nine sections, with each section in different phases of being constructed. According to DoRW, among the nine sections, the detailed project report of Chormara of Nawalparasi to Butwal has already been prepared.

DoRW Spokesperson Upadhyaya said the railway project is no longer a pipe-dream as the country has now embarked on a stable path. Stating that the Chinese authorities had expressed worries related to unstable political scenario in the country, he further said the foreign affairs minister had inked the agreement last week to assuage the Chinese officials.