People of Nepal on Thursday welcomed with great fanfare its first freight train laden with 5,500 tonnes of ballast. The train set off from India's Jharkhand yesterday.
It is for the first time in five years that a complete locomotive comprised of 53 goods wagons had reached Nepal from India through the Janakpur-Jaynagar broad-gauge railway. The train took 18 hours to reach its destination. Earlier, trains used to run on narrow gauge.
According to Kathmandu Post, the broad gauge has also been laid along the 34 kilometres segment between Jaynagar and Kurtha. Efforts are on from both sides to operate the train between these two places by mid-December.
The report further suggests that this rail service project worth Rs 5.5 billion has been divided into three phases. The first phase includes construction of a 34-km segment between Jaynagar and Kurtha, the second comprises construction of an 18-kilometre segment from Kurtha to Bhangaha in Mahottari district, and the third comprises construction of a 17-kilometre segment from Bhangaha to Bardibas.
Speaking to ANI, Balram Mishra, Director General of the Department of Railways, Nepal, said, "Earlier, we had a narrow gauge service from Jaynagar to Janakpur but due to the construction of the broad gauge the old system is not going to work anymore. So at present, we are planning to have the weight lease agreement with the Indian company through the Indian Government and we will run the train on the basis of that."
Railway service between Janakpur-Jaynagar was suspended in 2014. Interestingly, this track was built by the British 80 years ago, when India was under its rule, in order to transport timbers from the forest of Mahottari to India. The railway line was spread in 52 kilometres from Bijulpura in Nepal's Mahottari to Bihar's Jaynagar.