A team of 37 staff from China Railway Survey and Design Group and the Chinese government are now at work in Nepal to conduct surveys and other detailed study work for the new railway between Kathmandu and Kyirong in southern Tibet.

A team of technicians from China first arrived in Nepal on December 27 2022, following the announcement last year by foreign minister, Mr Wang Yi, that China would examine the feasibility of building the new 150km railway.

China and Nepal had agreed in 2018 to build the new railway under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but work on the project was delayed by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing restrictions on travel.

A project office has now been set up in Kathmandu, and staff are also at work in other locations including Rasuwa and Nuwakot.

Nepal’s Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport says that its Railway Department is providing the Chinese teams with topographical and other data, as well as security, technical and staffing support as requested by Chinese staff in the field.

A detailed feasibility report is expected to take 42 months to complete. The initial survey is scheduled to take 12 months, with more extensive surveying and mapping work taking 18 months to complete. A further 12 months will be needed to finalise and submit the engineering study report.

The cost of building the new railway is expected to be very high, given the difficult terrain to be traversed and the many bridges and tunnels required, which represent around 98% of project work.

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