KATHMANDU: The construction of 35 kilometers of railway track from Jayanagar of India to Kurtha of Dhanusha in Nepal is about to be completed. However, the track is likely to remain useless if quick decisions are not taken to import railway engines and carriages.
The construction of the railway track is due to be completed by March next year.
A proposal from the Department of Railways was sent to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport few weeks ago regarding purchase of engine (locomotive) and railway carriage.
“The 35 kilometers of the track will be completed within 6 months, but we have no rail to operate in the new track,” said Prakash Upadhyaya, spokesperson of the department.
At least five engines are needed for passengers and four for freight trains for transporting goods, according to the department. The department has planned to purchase four engines for daily transportation and one for emergency requirement. A total of Rs 4 billion is required to purchase all the engines and carriages.
“We lack experience in this field but we have to reach a final conclusion to purchase the railway at the earliest,” added Upadhyaya.
The department’s proposal has not specified any model of engine or carriage.
“We have to decide whether we want to buy or bring the engines and carriages on lease from India first,” added Upadhyaya.
“We do not have technician or driver to advise us if we want to buy engines and carriers on our own. We don’t have any experience about it either,” added Upadhyaya: “We may hire experts for railway management on contract, but we need to put conditions that they will train our people to operate the system.”
Apart from this track, another 18-kilometer-long track from Jogbani to Biratnagar in eastern Nepal is also under construction. Together, the two tracks make a total of 88 kilometers of railway track in the country.
However, there are few cases of disputes regarding land acquisition for both the railway tracks. Both the projects are being built with financial and technical support from India.
The government is also considering to pursue a mega project of east-west railway line next to the existing East West highway.
According to the department, separate detailed project reports are being prepared for the railway lines from Bardibas to Butwal, Bardibas to Inaruwa and Inaruwa to Kakarbhitt.
Likewise, there is another plan of building rail lines connecting Nepali cities to the nearby Indian cities. Nepal’s Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa, Birgunj, Janakpur and Biratnagar will be connected to the corresponding Indian cities by the cross-border railway line. Feasibility study for this project of 113-kilometer-long railway track has already been prepared and this will be built under the ‘build, own, operate and transfer’ modality.
– By Santosh Neupane for REPUBLICA