The first stretch of rail link between Nepal and India is ready to resume on the neighbouring country’s first-ever broad gauge passenger service (Jainagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas railway project).
- The rail link between Nepal and India has been popular since the early 20th century.
- In 1937, the British had built a narrow gauge line to ferry cargo, mainly logs, from Nepal to India.
- However, over time it became a popular passenger service before it was stopped in 2014 for conversion to broad gauge.
- A 34-km line between Bihar’s Jainagar and Nepal’s Kurtha, with the Hindu pilgrimage city of Janakpur Dham (in Nepal) in between.
- A 17 km of railway line from Kurtha to Bijalpura is also getting the finishing touches.
- For the remaining portion up to Bardibas, land is being handed over to IRCON International Limited (a Government of India Undertaking).
- The construction cost of Rs 784 crore for the entire stretch is being borne by India in the form of a grant to Nepal.
- The Konkan Railway Corporation Limited has got the contract for operations and maintenance of the line, and will train and develop manpower provided by Nepal, as per the bilateral understanding.
- MoUs have been signed between both the governments for laying an electric rail track linking Kathmandu with Raxaul (Bihar) in India.
- India and Nepal have signed a Letter of Exchange (LoE) to the India-Nepal Rail Services Agreement (RSA) 2004.
- It will allow all authorized cargo train operators to utilize the Indian railway network to carry Nepal’s container and other freight – both bilateral between Indian and Nepal or third country from Indian ports to Nepal.
The line is being seen as a small link to a larger plan of deepening India’s ties with Nepal through the Railways, bypassing the influence of other neighbouring countries in this strategically vital region.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT