After eight years of work, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepal counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba jointly flagged off the cross-border train service between Bihar’s Jayanagar and Nepal’s Kurtha, with the Hindu pilgrimage city of Janakpur Dham — the mythical birthplace of Sita — in between, through video link on Saturday.
This is going to be Nepal’s first broad gauge passenger train service, all of which has been hand-held by India from the start.
Part of the 68.73-km Jaynagar-Bardibas train service from Nepal side beyond Janakpur had to be stopped due to flooding of some railway bridges in 2001, while service from Janakpur to Jaynagar continued until March 2014 when India and Nepal decided to go for converting the entire narrow gauge link into broad gauge.
“PM Deuba ji and I also agreed to give priority to trade and cross-border connectivity initiatives in all respects. The beginning of the Jayanagar-Kurtha rail line is a part of this,” Modi said at the joint press meet with Deuba in Delhi. “Such schemes will make a great contribution for smooth, hassle-free exchange of people between the two countries.”
Ties on track
New Delhi is footing the construction bill of Rs 784 crore for the entire 68.73-km track between Bihar’s Jaynagar and Nepal’s Bardibas as a grant to the neighbouring country. It’s an out-and-out India show with Railway-arm IRCON carrying out the design and construction and another PSU, the Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL), slated to help the Nepal Railway Company in operations and maintenance, including training of manpower. KRCL has already supplied two sets of 1,600 horsepower Diesel Electric Multiple Unit passenger trains to run at a top speed of 100 kmph.
The project is being funded by the Ministry of External Affairs, as the line is a small link to the larger scheme of things in deepening India’s ties with Nepal through Railways — people and freight movement — bypassing the influence of other neighbouring countries in this strategically vital region, sources said.
“We both are confident that further connectivity projects, roads, railways, can gain further momentum. Likewise Prime Minister Modi and I have discussed further cooperation in civil aviation,” Deuba said.
The next stretch of 17 km from Kurtha to Bijalpura is also getting finishing touches. For the rest of the portion up to Bardibas, land is being handed over to IRCON.
The rail link line has been popular since the early 20th Century. The British had built the narrow gauge line in 1937 to ferry cargo, mainly logs, from Nepal to India. However, over time, it became a popular passenger service for people of the two countries.
The Jayanagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas rail project passes through Madhubani district of Bihar and agricultural and densely populated districts of Dhanusa, Mahottari and Siraha in Nepal.
In the first phase, Inerva, Khajuri, Mahinathpur halt, Baidehi, Careha halt, and Janakpur Dham stations have been built between the complete Jayanagar-Kurtha rail section. Custom check-points have been created at Jayanagar in India and Innerva in Nepal. The Jaynagar station has a parallel station building operated by Nepal Railway Company for this line.
Source: india Express