India, Nepal sign MoU on Raxual-Kathmandu railway line

India and Nepal have signed MoU to build strategic railway line connecting Raxaul city in Bihar, India to Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. It was signed  after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks on all aspects of the bilateral ties with his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli on sidelines of 4th BIMSTEC Summit held in Nepal.

Raxaul-Kathmandu rail line

It is expected to expand connectivity by enhancing people-to-people linkages and bulk movement of goods between both countries. It help to promote economic growth and development in the region. India’s Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. will conduct preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of this new rail line in consultation with Government of Nepal. This will be followed by finalization of implementation and funding modalities of project based ondetailed project report.  Besides, there are also three other railway projects in pipeline between both countries viz. Nautanwa-Bhairahawa, New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta and Nepalgunj Road-Nepalgunj.

Background

The signing of MoU comes two years after China agreed to construct strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet with apparent aim of reducing Himalayan nation’s dependence on India. It also comes in backdrop of recent Chinese linkages with Nepal as it took on building three highways to be completed by 2020. The two countries have recently also signed transit treaty. It also comes years after sense of mistrust had prevailed when certain sections in Nepal blamed India for the 135-day blockade in 2015 – 2016 that had crippled Nepal’s economy.

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