Kathmandu-Kerung railway chugs ahead as China tables report

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018 | | Money

The National Railway Authority of China has handed over the pre-feasibility study report of Kathmandu-Kerung railway to Nepali officials on Monday.

The authority has agreed to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) of the cross-border railway between Nepal and China.

Officials from the Chinese railway authority handed the report to Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation Secretary Madusudan Adhikari for Nepal’s consideration during the third meeting of Nepal-China Railway Co-operation Committee that began here on Monday.

Both parties are yet to reach an understanding on the funding modality for the DPR. After completing the DPR of the project, the next step would be deciding the investment modalities of US $2.75 billion cross border railway project which would span 72.25 km in Nepal.

As per the report, around 98.5 percent of the railway would either be bridges or tunnels, and construction cost would be Rs3.55 billion per kilometre.

Though Chinese officials expressed commitment to conduct the DPR of the Kathmandu-Kerung cross border railway, both sides have yet to decide on the financing modality of DPR of the project that will take two years to complete.

After completing the DPR, Nepal insists on discussing the investment modalities, said Adhikari. Nepal has insisted China funds the DPR fully, but China wants 50-50 funding.

During the meeting, Chinese officials expressed interest to conduct pre-feasibility study of Kathmandu-Pokhara railway where the joint team of Nepali and Chinese technicians will conduct filed visit up to Pokhara on Wednesday.

“The next meeting in China will take a decision on preparing the detailed project report of Kathmandu-Kerung railway and pre-feasibility study of Kathmandu-Pokhara railway track,” said Secretary Adhikari, adding both parties agreed in principle to prepare the pre-feasibility of Kathmandu-Lumbini railway whose final decision is yet to be made.

It would cost around Rs28.55 billion a year to complete the project in nine years, but Nepal cannot contribute the entire amount, according to officials at the Department of Railway.

The report says engineering crews would build ramps along the northern and southern slopes leading to Lake Paiku, near Kerung, to connect tracks to Kathmandu section.

The ramps would overcome the huge difference in elevation between the southern and northern toes of the Himalayan mountains.

China First Survey and Design Institute prepared the pre-feasibility study of Kathmandu-Kerung railway. It had shared the preliminary finding with Nepali officials during the meeting in Xian, China in August.

The preliminary findings suggest Kathmandu section is in the “collision and splicing zone” along the Eurasian Plate, presenting six major geological problems.

The hard rock burst and the large deformation of soft rocks would cause extremely high stress. The problem of the fault effects of the deep, active fractures are in high-intensity seismic zones. The report says the level of seismic activities could present problems with high ground temperatures, slope stability, debris and water erosion.

The project’s longest and most steep grade is up to 95 km long out of 121 km. The report says continuous use of air brakes would cause abrasion of the brake shoe and heating of tyre.

During the visit of PM Oli to China in June, two sides had agreed to prepare DPR of Kathmandu-Kerung railway.