Nepal on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with India in New Delhi to prepare a detailed project report for a proposed $3.15 billion railway linking Kathmandu with the Indian border town of Raxaul in the south.
The broad-gauge line will give the Nepali capital a direct connection with the Indian railway network, enabling non-stop train travel to all Indian cities.
On March 9, the Nepali Cabinet had given an in-principle approval to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to sign a memorandum of understanding with India to create a plan.
The train link to Raxaul, which will be 136 km to 198 km long, is seen as New Delhi’s attempt to counter Chinese influence in Nepal.
Deepak Kumar Bhattarai, director general of Nepal's Department of Railways, and Anurag Bhushan, joint secretary at the Development Partnership Administration under the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of their respective governments.
According to the understanding, India will finish the detailed project report within 18 months of the commencement of the agreement; and Nepal will facilitate the process. The Indian government will bear the cost of preparing it.
“The signing of the agreement is an important development,” said Aman Chitrakar, spokesperson for the Railways Department, who is among the visiting team in New Delhi.