Nepal, China sign agreement to take ahead Beijing’s railway extension plan

Chinese authorities plan to extend their network from Shigatse to Kerung, the Chinese port located closest to the border, within five years.
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli (left) with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.(AFP)
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli (left) with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.(AFP)
Updated on Jun 22, 2018 08:47 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kathmandu | ByAnil Giri

Nepal and China on Thursday signed an agreement on conducting a feasibility study for extending the Chinese railway network to Kathmandu during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s official visit to Beijing.

India had recently announced it too will expand its railway network from Raxaul to Kathmandu. It also said it would complete the construction within five years after completing the survey within a year.

Chinese authorities plan to extend their network from Shigatse to Kerung, the Chinese port located closest to the border, within five years.

Nepal and China had agreed in principle to expand the railway network beyond the border during a visit by Oli in 2016. According to the agreement finalised on Thursday, the link will be for electric cargo trains and not passenger trains.

Nepal’s minister for physical infrastructure and transport, Raghubir Mahaseth, and his Chinese counterpart Li Xiaopeng signed the MoU on conducting the feasibility study for the cross-border railway link. The cost of the survey will be borne by the Chinese side.

Chinese railway authorities will conduct a pre-feasibility study by August and prepare the detailed project report in another two years. The construction of the project will be completed in five years.

The Chinese side has communicated that its railway network will reach the area near the Nepal border by 2022. According to an estimate, the length of the Kerung-Kathmandu railway link will be 121.5 km.

Following delegation-level talks between Oli and Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People, the two sides signed 14 different agreements, including one on constructing a railway network in Nepal based on the trade and transit agreement inked two years ago.

Mahaseth and Li signed a protocol on the use of highways in Tibet Autonomous Region by Nepal for transporting cargo. Nepal can use the Tibetan highways to ferry goods to its northern belt located in difficult terrain to ferry from various cities and trading points.

Other MoUs covered investments and cooperation in production between China’s National Development and Reforms Commission and Nepal’s National Planning Commission, reconstruction of bridges at Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi that were damaged by the 2015 earthquakes, establishment of a mechanism for the implementation of China-Nepal cooperation programmes and projects in Nepal, energy cooperation, the Nuwakot Palace restoration project, and the public schools recovery project in Rasuwa, Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk.

Nepal and China also agreed to strengthen people-to-people contacts, partnership in the tourism sector, socio-cultural exchanges and coordination on key global issues.

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