New Railway Bill envisages cross-border service

Kathmandu, January 15

The Railway Bill recently approved by the National Assembly for clause-wise deliberation stipulates a provision of entering into agreement with one or more foreign countries for cross-border rail service.

According to Section 15 of the bill, the Government of Nepal may use the land of one or more foreign countries for expanding railway service beyond the national border on the basis of reciprocity.

“The Government of Nepal shall allow other countries to use its land to operate railway service if the concerned countries sign an agreement with Nepal to let it use their soil for the same purpose,” it reads. The agreement to be concluded with other countries shall determine the terms and conditions and procedures of operation of railway service in their concerned countries.

“Existing law of Nepal shall prevail in the case of operation of railway service by a foreign country inside Nepal,” it reads.

According to the bill, the government may create a dedicated security unit for railway service at the behest of an 11-member Nepal Railway Board headed by the Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport. The board shall be responsible to develop and expand railway service while making it secure, regular, reliable and effective.

Central office of the board will be situated in Kathmandu valley and the office may establish branch offices in any part of the country. “The board shall function as an autonomous body. Functions, duties and power of the board are to approve its annual budget, plan and program; carry out monitoring and evaluation of programs operated by it; regulate activities related to railway service; formulate bylaws and develop and implement directives, procedures and standards,”reads the bill.

There shall be a nine-member executive committee led by secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to perform work on behalf of the board. As per Section 14, the government may issue directives to the board in relation to operation of railway service. It requires the board to fix and publish fare structures applicable for travel from one station to another.

The bill also has provision of licence for train driver and helper. “Any person wishing to obtain a licence shall possess an educational qualification of at least Plus Two level,” it reads.

The bill prohibits any person to travel by train without ticket. According to the bill, the board shall provide Rs 700,000 in compensation to the kin of a passenger if he/ she is killed in train crash. A passenger injured in accident will be entitled to compensation not exceeding Rs 300,000 depending on the gravity of the injury. If a passenger dies or sustains injury due to his/her own negligence or commits suicide during travel, no compensation shall be provided.

“Any person, who is not satisfied with the decision made by the board may file an appeal at the concerned high court,” reads the bill. Final audit of income and expenditure of the board shall be conducted by the Office of the Auditor General. “If anyone obstructs railway service and threatens to cause damage to train, he/she shall be liable to a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine not exceeding Rs 200,000,” reads the bill.