Nepal-India passenger railway service to resume in October

Nepal Foreign Affairs (12 February 2018) – Nepal-India cross-border passenger railway service will finally come into operation in October.

The long-awaited passenger railways from Bardibas of Nepal to Jaynagar of India, which stretches 69 km, will ease transport of people across the border.

According to Binod Ojha, chief engineer of Nepal Railways, trains will be operated on 34-km stretch from Kurtha of Dhanusha district in Nepal to Jaynagar of India in the first phase.

At present, railway tracks are being laid on 400 to 500 metres of land per day. “Works related to construction of bridges are also expected to be completed in the next 15 days, and construction of offices and residential quarters for staff at various train stations is about to be complete as well,” said Ravi Sahay, an official of Ircon International, an Indian government undertaking, which is overseeing the construction works.

The broad-gauge railway project, which is being built at a cost of INR5.5 billion (Rs8.8 billion) with the support of the Indian government, is divided into three segments. The first phase comprises construction of 34km segment between Jaynagar and Kurtha; the second phase comprises construction of 18km segment from Kurtha to Bhangaha of Mahottari district; and the third phase of work comprises construction of 17km segment from Bhangaha to Bardibas of Mahottari, The Kathmandu Post has reported.

 “The second phase of railway line construction work is also moving ahead at a rapid pace, although there is a small dispute on land acquisition with locals at Leuri village,” said Sahay. However, the third phase of construction work has been badly affected due to dispute on land acquisition. “The government of Nepal has expressed commitment to make the required plots of land available within July,” said Sahay. “Once the issue is settled, we’ll appoint a contractor and begin construction works.”

As per the agreement with India, the railway service from Janakpur to Bijulpura should have come into operation within May 2016. However, due to various problems the works could not be completed.

Trains that used to run on Janakpur-Jaynagar railway line used to be one of the most common modes of transportation for locals. But the service came to a complete halt around five years ago after renovation works began. As a result, many residents of Dhanusha district are being forced to travel through Indian towns to visit district headquarters, Janakpur.

The railway track was initially built by British rulers around 80 years ago to transport logs from the forest in Mahottari to India. At that time, the railway line used to stretch 52 km from Bijulpura of Mahottari in Nepal to Jaynagar of India. But around 15 years ago, floods swept away Bighi Bridge, which limited the railway service on 29km stretch from Janakpur to Jaynagar.

The revitalisation of the crucial railway line is expected to reduce travel time between the seaport in Kolkata to Kathmandu by around 130 kilometres which will facilitate Nepal-India trade as well, said Nirmal Kumar Chaudhary, former president of the Janakpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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