Pilgrimage stop on the first section of the renovated rail link to Nepal

It has been closed for years but will now be seen again – in a new avatar.

Popular since the turn of the 20th century, the rail link between Nepal and India is poised to resume on the neighboring country’s very first wide gauge passenger service. The first section is ready: a 34 km line between Jayanagar in Bihar and Kurtha in Nepal, with the Hindu pilgrimage town of Janakpur Dham in between.

On October 21, the Nepal Railway Company is expected to take over the assets of the 68.73 km Jaynagar-Bardibas link from the Indian engineering company IRCON, which built the line. And in another first, Jaynagar station will have a parallel building operated by the Nepal Railway Company.

Indian Railways have assured their Nepalese counterpart of all assistance so that operations can begin as soon as possible. Konkan Railway Corporation Limited has been awarded the contract for the operation and maintenance of the line, and will train and develop the workforce supplied by Nepal, in accordance with the bilateral agreement.

Nepal has been invited to start operations preferably by this year. “We stressed that the first operations would prevent deterioration of assets,” an Indian official told The Indian Express.

Sources said that given the importance of the project and the connectivity with the pilgrimage site of Janakpur, the inauguration of the first commercial service would be a politically “high level” affair for which the date and time will be. jointly defined.

By 1937, the British had built a narrow gauge line to transport goods, mostly logs, from Nepal to India. However, over time it became a popular passenger service before it was shut down in 2014 to be converted to a wide gauge.

New Delhi has decided to carry out all the gauge conversion works, including the trains to operate on the link. The second 17 km stretch from Kurtha to Bijalpura also ends. For the remaining portion up to Bardibas, the land is ceded to IRCON. The construction cost of Rs 784 crore for the entire stretch is borne by India in the form of a grant to Nepal.

According to the provisional timetable of services, the train from Jaynagar to Kurtha will take about an hour, stopping at six stations in Nepal between – Inerwa, Khajuri, Mahinathpur, Baidehi, Parwaha and Janakpur. A total of three daily trips are planned, officials said.

The Nepal Railway Company will replace the commercial staff, from the station master to the ticket checker, all to be trained by India.

The line is seen as a small link to a larger plan to deepen India’s ties with Nepal through railways, bypassing the influence of other neighboring countries in this strategically vital region.

Earlier this week, the joint India-Nepal working group signed an agreement for a final location study of a wide gauge line between Raxaul of Bihar and Kathmandu. When completed, it will be a hill railway that will direct rail connectivity between the capital of Nepal and the Indian network, opening up multiple routes for cross-border movement.