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First broad gauge rail link between India and Nepal opens

In a landmark initiative to boost connectivity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba on Saturday inaugurated the first wide-gauge passenger rail service linking Bihar’s Jayanagar to Nepal’s Kurtha region.

The two prime ministers all but abandoned the rail service after holding in-depth talks focused on significantly expanding cooperation in a range of key areas, including trade, investment, connectivity and people-to-people exchanges.

Deuba arrived in New Delhi on Friday on his first bilateral visit abroad after becoming prime minister for the fifth time in July 2021.

The Jayanagar-Kurtha section is part of the Jaynagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas railway link and the project is being implemented with a grant of Rs 548 crore from India.

“The introduction of the Jayanagar-Kurtha railway line is one of them. Such projects will greatly contribute to smooth and hassle-free exchanges between the peoples of the two countries,” Prime Minister Modi said in his statement to the media.

Following the talks between Modi and Deuba, the two sides also signed an agreement on enhancing technical cooperation in the railway sector.

The Jaynagar-Kurtha section is 35 km long of which 3 km is in Bihar and the rest in Nepal.

The section consists of eight stations, namely Jaynagar in India, Inarwa (border post), Khajuri, Mahinathpur, Baidehi, Parwaha, Janakpur and Kurtha.

This is the first wide-gauge passenger rail link between the two countries, opening up a whole new dimension for cross-border connectivity.

Until 2014, it was an existing rail service on a meter gauge rail link between Jaynagar and Janakpur.

A train with a capacity of about 1,000 passengers is expected to travel at an average speed of 40 km/h for the maiden run and will take an hour to reach Janakpur/Kurtha, officials said.

The train will be operated by the Nepal Railway Company (NRC), with the help of Konkan Railway Corporation Limited and IRCON or Indian Railway Construction Limited.

In his remarks, Modi said India has been a strong partner in Nepal’s journey of peace, progress and development and will always remain so.

“The friendship of India and Nepal, the relations of our peoples, such an example is not seen anywhere else in the world. Our civilization, our culture, the threads of our exchanges have been connected since ancient times”, Modi said.