China-Nepal rail project finds little support in landlocked nation

The proposed 170 km railway is part of China's ambitious Belt and Road initiative. Once built, it will connect the Kerung Gyrong in southern Tibet.

Published: 26th September 2022 02:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2022 02:28 PM   |  A+A-

Nepal Flag

Nepal Flag (Photo | AFP)


KATHMANDU: China's ambitious project in Nepal related to building a railway line in the landlocked nation has few supporters.

Although China plans to start a feasibility study for the 170 km Trans-Himalayan Tibet-Nepal railway, environmental and technical questions remain. Such concerns have been raised by Nepali experts, reported Eye of Nepal.

Moreover, the dispute over the blocked Nepal-China railway line has not yet been resolved. President Xi Jinping said in 2019 that the proposed line would transform Nepal.

But three years have passed and still the project has not received much support from the Nepalese leadership, engineers or environmentalists, reported Eye of Nepal.

Towards the end of 2018, China conducted a pre-feasibility study of a railway for Nepal, which clearly stated that it was a very difficult project due to the terrain gradient.

The study estimates an investment of USD 2.75 billion for the 72.5 km section but unfortunately, the report of the study has not been made public yet, reported Eye of Nepal.

As a result, doubts have arisen in Nepal about the feasibility of the proposed railway. Aman Chitrakar of Nepal Railway said that this project will be as difficult as the third pole.

He said that the world's most challenging railway engineering project is the 4,500-meter Tibetan Plateau route that reaches Kathmandu through the Himalayas. Technical experts have expressed serious concern about Nepal's lack of capacity, reported Eye of Nepal.

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While reviewing the technical reports, it was found that there is no technically qualified railway in Nepal and there is a lack of engineers who can evaluate the pros and cons of the proposed railway line.

Apart from the geological challenges, there are also many geopolitical obstacles to the Nepal China Railway.

It has been suggested that the proposed train from Nepal will have an ecological impact and there has not been enough discussion about this line in Nepal.

Nothing has been said yet about what this railway means for Nepalis. Nepal has imported goods worth 1.7 billion dollars from China until July 2021. And in the middle of April 2022, Nepal's export to China was only 50 million US dollars, reported Eye of Nepal.

The proposed 170 km railway is part of China's ambitious Belt and Road initiative. Once built, it will connect the Kerung Gyrong in southern Tibet. The plan is to eventually extend the railway to India, entering Nepal in the Rasuwa district via Kathmandu.

Notably, China aims to push rail connectivity in Nepal to fulfil its strategic interests. While China had made rapid progress on rail connectivity within its borders, on the Nepalese side of the border, talk of a trans-Himalayan railway is only political tokenism, reported The HK Post.


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