Sources in the Indian Railways have confirmed that the first passenger train to run onboard gauge between Indian and Nepal is likely to commence this December.
It is also learnt that Indian and Nepalese nationals crossing the border via this train will have no visa requirements. The train will run from Jayanagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Dhanusa District in south-eastern Nepal’s Janakpur Zone. This is a 34-kilometre stretch.
According to the Economic Times, an immigration check-post manned either by the Bureau of Immigration or the State Government will be established at the Jayanagar Station.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs will be finalizing the logistics through meetings. The government has had several inter-ministerial meetings with the Nepal government, railways and other stakeholders.
India stepping up connectivity with Nepal is being seen as countering China’s similar plans. According to The Diplomat, “Chinese engagement in Nepal is sharply increasing with new areas of cooperation, making India uncomfortable. India views Nepal as its traditional sphere of influence, and wants to contain Chinese influence.”
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After Nepal’s Prime Minister, K.P. Sharma Oli’s official India visit, the relations between the two countries got onto the right foot and the rail link sealed through the agreement for the construction of the railway line linking Raxaul in Bihar with Kathmandu.
The project, divided into three phase, is estimated to cost over Rs 5 crore. The first phase already discussed above is near completion; second is the construction of an 18-kilometre segment from Kurtha to Bhangaha in Mahottari District; and the last, a 17-kilometre segment from Bhangaha to Bardibas.
The Himalayan nation, Nepal shares cordial relations with both India and China.