October 9, 2016:Â Four Chinese companies have shown interest to conduct feasibility study of Kathmandu-Rasuwagadhi railway network after Nepal sought the northern neighbourâ€™s help to conduct survey and detailed project report (DPR).
Once the proposed railway is constructed, it will establish direct railway connectivity with Chinese railway which is expected to arrive in Kerung, a bordering town of China across Rasuwagadhi, within a few years.
According to the Department of Railway, Sinohydro, China Railway Fist Survey and Design Institute Group, China Engineering Oversees
Group (COVEC) and China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC) have applied for conducting the survey.
The Chinese proposals follow Nepalâ€™s request to China to provide financial and technical support for the feasibility study and the preparation of the DPR of the proposed Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu and Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini Railway Project. The request was made during former prime minister KP Sharma Oliâ€™s visit to China in March.
During the visit, it was agreed that the relevant authorities of both sides would exchange ideas and proposals on constructing cross-border railways and rail network in Nepal, and support enterprises to start related preparatory work as soon as possible.
Subsequently, the government had announced through the budget for the current fiscal year that a DPR for Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini Railway would be prepared and construction would be initiated in two years.
According to Ananta Acharya, director general of the Department of Railway, these Chinese companies have submitted the proposals at the department as well as the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport.Â â€œThere have been discussions on the proposals at the government level,â€ he said.Â â€œThe Prime Ministerâ€™s Office has also been inquiring about the latest developments regarding the project.â€
Among the applicants, Sinohydro, which is basically involved in the hydropower sector, is also involved in railway development.
It had got the construction contract of constructing a part of Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway. It is also the company involved in hydropower development and construction contracts in Nepal.
The COVEC is a fully-funded subsidiary of China Railway Group Limited. According to the Chinese companyâ€™ website, COVEC has undertaken and executed more than 1,000 large and medium-sized overseas projects with the total contract value of $5.8 billion and carried out international trade of $1 billion US dollar.
China Railway Fist Survey and Design Institute (CCRC) Group is the company which was also involved in constructing Qinghai-Tibet railway which is expected to extend to Kerung. Besides China, it is also involved in Iraq, Nigeria and Tanzania, according to the companyâ€™s website.
The CRCC was solely established by China Railway Construction Corporation in 2007 in Beijing which has now emerged as a mega-size construction corporation.
The business of CRCC covers project contracting, survey design consultation, industrial manufacturing, real estate development, logistics, trade of goods and materials as well as capital operations, according to the companyâ€™s website.
With China working to extend railway line from Shigatse to Kerung in a few years, many in Nepal see cross-border railway a possibility, which will not only provide new transport connectivity with the northern neighbour but will also scale up economic ties between the two countries.
With Nepal and China signing transit agreement paving the way for Chinese territory for third-country trade, railway connectivity is a must.
Meanwhile, China CAMC Engineering Company Ltd, which has submitted a feasibility report on Kathmandu-Pokhara electric railway to the government, plans to develop 164.395-kilometre railway, which will have 27 tunnels and 53 bridges. This is the same company which is building a regional international airport in Pokhara.