Print Edition - 2017-09-27 | News
Developing rail link: Tall promise but little to show off
Sep 27, 2017-
It was a grandiose promise of major political parties that captured the audience
enough that discerning people warned against getting starry-eyed over it.
From election manifesto to public events, leaders of major parties acted like dream
merchants who ingeniously sold aspirations to their constituencies of developing rail
networks to enhance connectivity not only within the nation but also with the
Developing railway network has often been a major agenda of every Nepali prime
minister visiting India and China--the two nations which have made significant strides
in mass transportation through railways.But is that something that can happen anytime soon?Probably not, if you consider the state the government agency responsible for developing railways is in.Not only does the Department of Railways lack a single railway engineer, but the number of civil, mechanical and electric engineers too is not adequate to realise the dream of developing railway lines in the country.
Of the 40 officials the departmet has on its current payroll, the number of engineers
stands at eight--a severe handicap the technical status of the government. Four of
them are civil engineers, three mechanical engineers and an electrical engineer.
“For all the tall promises of developing efficient transportation system, the department
lacks capacity even to analyse the proposal forwarded by overseas companies,”
Prakash Upadhyaya, senior divisional engineer at the DoR, told the Post. “We don’t
even have a single railway engineer.”
According to him, the DoR has sent two of its engineers to China to study railway
engineering--a two-year Masters Degree course. “There is no one in the department
who understands railways. We expect those officials to evolve as resource for the
government in the near future,” Upadhyaya said, adding that the department at
present is managing operations by studying content available online as well as
consulting with foreign experts. In the absence of expertise, the department has failed
to make its position on proposals submitted by half a dozen Chinese firms seeking
government’s approval for initiating a study on a rail network connecting Nepal with
While preparations for the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Butwal-Bardibas railway
line has been completed, according to the DoR, the DPR of Bardibas-Kakadbhitta is
nearing completion. The department has begun a field survey for the development of a railway line in the western region by segregating it into four parts--115-km Butwal-
Lamahi; 102-km Lamahi-Kohalpur, 95-km Kohalpur-Sukhad and 94-km Sukhad-
Around 75-80 percent of civil works have been completed on the Bardibas-Lalgadh
railway line project which is financed by the Nepal government, the DoR said.
Likewise, reconstruction of certain sections and upgradation of the Jayanagar-
Janakpur-Bardibas railway line and construction of the Jogbani-Biratnagar line is
going on under the support of India. Most of these activities, including study is being
led by consultants from China and South Korea.
Apart from human resources, the projects are facing severe budget constraints.
The government has allocated Rs4.02 billion this fiscal year for DPRs of the
Bardibas-Mechi section and the Butwal-Mahakali section under the Eastwest Electric
Railway, Mono Rail Development Project, the Kathmandu-Birjung railway and the
construction of railway track of the Bardibas-Simara section. The department,
however, says an annual budget of around Rs35 billion will be required to see these
railway projects gather steam.
Published: 27-09-2017 06:53