The Railway Ordinance recently issued by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers stipulates a provision of a dedicated security unit for rail operation.

As per the ordinance, the Government of Nepal may create a dedicated security unit for railway service at the request of an 11-member Nepal Railway Board headed by the Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport. The board shall be responsible for developing and expanding railway service, while making it secure, regular, reliable and effective.

Similarly, it stipulates a provision of entering into an agreement with one or more foreign countries for cross-border rail service.

While the central office of the board will be in Kathmandu, it may establish branch offices in any part of the country as deemed necessary.

"The board shall be an autonomous body with perpetual succession. The functions, duties and powers of the board are to approve its annual budget, plan and programme, carry out monitoring and evaluation of programmes operated by it, regularise and systematise activities related to rail service, formulate by-laws, develop and implement directives, procedures and standards.

The ordinance has also provisioned a nine-member executive committee led by secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to perform works on behalf of the board. The Government of Nepal may give directives to the board in relation to operation of railway service.

Likewise, the Government of Nepal may use the land of one or more than one foreign country to expand the railway service beyond the national border on the basis of reciprocity.

"The Government of Nepal shall allow other countries to use its land for operation of railway service if the concerned countries sign an agreement with Nepal in a manner as 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.

"The existing law of Nepal shall prevail in the case of operation of railway service by a foreign country inside Nepal," it says.

Similarly the board is required to fix and publish the fare structures to be applicable for travel from one station to another by rail. The ordinance also has provision of licence for train drivers. The board is the licensing authority. Any person wishing to obtain a train-driving licence shall possess an educational qualification of at least Plus Two level in science with five years of experience in the area concerned. The board may also issue a licence to a driver who has already obtained it in any foreign country.

The ordinance prohibits any person to travel by train without ticket. According to the ordinance, the board shall provide Rs 700,000 in compensation to the kin of a passenger if he/she is killed in a train crash.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 20, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.