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Strategic China-Kathmandu rail line to gather speed post Wang Yi’s visitAbhinandan Mishra
- April 2, 2022
The rail line in Nepal will be a part of the Qinghai rail line that starts from Xining, the capital of Qinghai province in western China and the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau.
The recent meeting between Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s and top Nepal officials, including Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Nepalese foreign minister Narayan Khadaka on 25-27 March, saw the signing of nine agreements, two of which were related to the China-Nepal railways, a strategically important project for the Chinese and has slowed down in the recent times.
Sources said Wang, during his interaction with his Nepali counterpart, urged him to take steps to ensure that the project is completed on time. The two countries had in 2016 agreed to extend the rail line from Shigatse that lies in Tibet to Kathmandu. The proposed 170-kilometre railway will link the city of Kerung in southern Tibet to Kathmandu, entering the Himalayan country from Rasuwa district. The distance between Rasuwa and Kathmandu is around 100 km.
Later, it was announced that the Chinese government will construct 30 kilometers of tunnels to cut the distance between Kathmandu and the Chinese border point Kerung by almost half. According to feasible study reports, about 98.5% of the railways will be bridges or tunnels.
The National Railway Authority of China had submitted the preliminary study report of the Kerung-Kathmandu railway to the Government of Nepal in 2018 after which an agreement was reached during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal in September 2019. During the visit, the Chinese team also submitted a report on the feasibility study of the Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway. This rail line in Nepal will be a part of the Qinghai rail line that starts from Xining, the capital of Qinghai province in western China and the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau, and goes up to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, a distance of 1956 km.
From Lhasa, the train line moves towards the right and reaches Shigatse in less than three hours. The construction of tracks between Kerung and Shigaste started in August 2021. Shigatse, which is the seat of the Panchen Lama apart from home to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, founded by the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gedun Drupa in 1447 and also a major monastery for the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, is Tibet’s second city and known as the “Gateway to Mount Everest.”
According to official sources, Yi is said to have told officials of Nepal that China was ready to release more funds and other resources so that the rail line can be completed swiftly. In the joint declaration released later, the foreign ministers agreed to realize the “long-cherished wish” of its leaders to build a rail line to Kathmandu. In March 2020, China Railway First Institute won the bid for the survey and design project of the Shigatse to Nepal border section of the China-Nepal Railway.
In December last year, An Lusheng, Deputy Director of the State Railway Administration of China, and Shrestha, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport of Nepal, co-chaired the seventh working meeting of China-Nepal Railway Cooperation in the form of a video conference in which the problems being faced in extending the train line inside Nepal were discussed. All these issues were resolved during the recent visit of the Chinese foreign minister.
The project is strategically important for the Chinese and has slowed down in recent times. New Delhi: The recent meeting between Chinese foreign minister