China has begun the groundwork to lay the proposed strategic railway line connecting Lhasa to Kathmandu and finally to Lumbini close to the India-Nepal border, India Today reported.
This comes in the midst of tensions between India and China, coupled with diplomatic ties between India and Nepal.
China’s Shen Shiwei CGTN News Producer, produced photos of the exploration and surveys of the railway project. It showed a team performing some kind of ground assessment at a site where the rail corridor is being planned.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/China?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#China</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Nepal?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Nepal</a> railway 🚃 🇨🇳🇳🇵<br>Exploration, survey and design are on the road! Here is Chinese section. <a href=”https://t.co/nQIZsHxdX2″>pic.twitter.com/nQIZsHxdX2</a></p>— Shen Shiwei沈诗伟 (@shen_shiwei) <a href=”https://twitter.com/shen_shiwei/status/1287262206917144577?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 26, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
The railway line proposed to reach Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha right on the Indian border, has not made much progress since it was first planned in 2008.
The next deadline for the ambitious project will be 2025.
While construction has not begun, the survey is part of a pre-feasibility study for the project, sources in India have reported on developments.
The plan was designed by China in 2008 and it was decided that the rail corridor would link Lhasa to Shigatse and be extended to Keyrung on the border with Nepal. This is to be extended further to Kathmandu and Lumbini.
Cost was a major concern for the project as a whole, which has already been estimated at more than USD 300 million. The project is complex with several tunnels and bridges required.
Sources said China wanted Nepal to share the costs but that has delayed matters. Many feel that before the railways China will come up with road projects in Nepal because of the feasibility and cost concerns.
India has also planned rail links in Nepal to counter China’s influence through the proposed rail corridor.
To date, six cross-border rail lines have been proposed between India and Nepal.
When asked about the status of these projects, V K Yadav, Chairman Railway board said, “We have prioritized all our infrastructure projects to super critical and critical projects, basically we are ensuring that all the infrastructure projects are expedited but for this latest project, the complete details and timeline would be provided later.”
Unlike the Nepal-China rail line, which faces terrain hurdles, the construction of rail lines between India and Nepal is less challenging.
Two of these projects have made some progress, sources said. Jayanagar-Janakpur-Bardibas rail line at a cost of Rs 5.5 billion
The 69 km project is divided into three phases. In the first phase, the 34-km segment between Jayanagar and Kurtha is complete.
Work is underway in the second phase, 18 km from Kurtha to Bhangaha in the Mahottari district, and in the third phase, 17 km from Bhangaha to Bardibas.
Jayanagar-Janakpur’s wide gage railway line project consists of a (34 km) rail track, the tracks of which have been tracked.
During the visit of KP Sharma Oli to India in July 2018, both sides agreed to make concerted efforts and to resolve all issues expeditiously, to complete the rail lines from Jayanagar to Janakpur-Kurtha and from Jogbani to Biratnagar Customs Yard by the timeline of October 2018.
The project has missed several deadlines and is now set to 2021.
Sources have indicated that certain operational issues with regard to the running of trains, rolling stock, catering, etc. are pending.