With the arrival of the new two brand Indian-built trains on the station of Janakpur on the 18th of September, 2020, the Nepalese again begin to remind the nearly 100 years old history of Railways In Nepal.
The enthusiasm of Nepalese after seeing these two new trains arriving in Nepal colored in the two colors Crimson Red and Blue of our National Flag can be easily seen by their happiness that they have shown on social media.
Still, there are many things that aren’t quite clear to Nepalese about these trains and railway in Nepal. Like most people are thinking that previous train that used to operate between Jaynagar and Janakpur was shut down with the closing of Nepal Railways.
And these new sets of two trains are a completely new project of Nepal Railways under the supervision of the new Government Of Nepal. And there are some who are thinking that these trains are gifted by the Government Of India. In reality, these both broad-gauge trains are bought by the Government Of Nepal for around 85 Crores Nepali Rupees.
More than telling about the features and specifications of these two trains, we are trying to cover the pros and cons of railways in Nepal. But before that, let’s talk a bit about the history of railways in Nepal.
History Of Railways In Nepal
Neither railway was new or unknown to Nepalese at the time where it is first introduced in Nepal nor it is unknown and new to Nepalese now when two new sets of trains have arrived in Nepal. The history of Railways in Nepal is quite old.
The credit for introducing railways in Nepal goes to Chandra Shumsher. The railway in Nepal was first introduced and built in 1927 by British India during the rule of Rana in Nepal.
At that time, the first railway of Nepal was named Nepal Government Railway that used to connect Raxaul of British India to the Amlekhgunj of Nepal, and this railway was known as Raxaul-Amlekhgunj Railway.
At that time, this railway route was the only way to reach Kathmandu from different places of India and the Terai of Nepal. This 39 Kilometers long railway that allowed people to reach Amlekhgunj and carry heavy goods from British India to Nepal was closed in 1965 with the construction of the Tribhuvan Highway.
The second and the only operating railway in Nepal was constructed in the year 1937 and that railway is the Nepal Janakpur-Jaynagar Railway that connects the 45 KM long route of Jaynagar in India to Janakpur in Nepal.
It was basically built and operated with the purpose of carrying timber and woods from the heavily forested area of Nepal to then British India. But later the railway began to use for transportation purposes too that allows people of both countries to travel to each other’s country through railways. Though this railway was later extended to the Bijalpura of Mahottari making the total length of the railway route 69 KM long.
After the flood had washout the railway embankment and two bridges between the track of Janakpur and Bijalapur in 2001, this 22 KM railways route was closed in 2001. And after that, the railway was operated from Jaynagar to Janakpur only.
Pros Of Railways In Nepal
Since the Railway Department is planning to extend the railway network in Nepal up to 4000 KM on a huge scale, then Nepal and the Nepalese must be benefited from the railway network, otherwise, there would be no point in expanding the railway network in Nepal.
It’s not only about the advantages of using the railway, but it’s about the role that the railway can play in benefiting Nepal and Nepalese.
We thereby have listed some of the advantages of railway transport in Nepal and the benefits that the Nepalese can get from this mode of transportation.
Reliable And Safe Mode Of Transportation
Railways have been always one of the best and reliable ways of transportation. Trains have always considered one of the best ways of transporting goods and people from one place to another.
In the context of a country like Nepal, Railways seem to be a more reliable way of transportation than other ways like airways and roadways. Nepal has to face natural calamities like floods and landslides due to the heavy rainfalls yearly and these keep causing obstacles in transportation services like airways and roadways.
Apart from landslides and floods, bad weather conditions like wind, fog, and rainfalls also caused obstacles in transportation services. These factors also let airports closed for some days.
But in the case of railways, they aren’t affected by any kind of weather like winds and heavy rainfalls. Railways can be easily operated in any kind of weather. So it will be the best, reliable, and dependable way of transportation in Nepal. Even the chances of accidents and breakdown of railways are minimum as compared to other modes of transport.
Can Connect Remote Areas Of Nepal
Due to the large variation in the landscape of Nepal, there are still many remote places in the hilly and the Himalayan region of Nepal where there are no means of transportation. Even there are no proper roads in such areas that have made these places very remote and the people of these places find it quite difficult to connect themselves with the rest of the country.
There are roads in some places like this in Nepal and road transport also operate on these roads, but the means of road transport take too much time to reach such places. The construction of a good road network is very much impossible in such hilly and Himalayan areas of Nepal. Even airways aren’t pretty much effective in these places.
But the railway can be the best mode of transportation service for the remote places of hilly and Himalayan regions than other means of transport. It is a safe and regular form of transportations that helps to transport the goods with pretty much good speed and certainty in both plain land or high hilly lands.
Boost The Economy Of The Country
If the railway will be fully managed and operated in a well-organized way, then the railways can surely help to boost and increase the economical condition of a country. In other countries, Railways are considered one of the biggest sources of the country’s economy. The development of the infrastructure of railways enhances the economical development of a country.
A Great Scope Of Employment
With the start of railway networks throughout the many places of the country, it will surely provide different types of job opportunities to the Nepalese. Railways Department is a sector that isn’t operated by less manpower. This is the transportation system that requires more manpower to work and operate effectively. It encourages mobility of labor and thereby provides a great scope for employment, So the extension of the railway network in the country will also provide a great scope of employment to the people of Nepal.
Fixed Time Of Arrival And Departure
This is also one of the benefits and advantages of using railways for transportation. Many of us must know that railways are a well-managed and organized way of transportation the same as airways. Railways are all about a fixed time-table. Only in a few cases, trains aren’t arrived or departed on time otherwise, the time routine of railways is fixed.
Unlike buses and other means of road transportation, we don’t have to wait for hours and hours for them to arrive, and in Nepal, you will often see any buses coming on time. But in railways, the time of arrival and departure of trains on the stations are fixed. So for Nepalese, it will be one of the best advantages that can get from the railways.
Ideal For Long-Distance Travelling
When it comes to the best way of long-distance traveling within a country, there can’t be the best mode than railways except for airways. But in a country like Nepal, everyone who wants to travel long distances can’t afford the tickets for airplanes. They are quite costly for most Nepalese. So most of the Nepalese travel long distances through road transport like buses and cars.
And we Nepalese know how many difficulties we have to face while traveling by bus or other means of road transport while traveling for long-distance. First of all, they aren’t so comfortable. And sometimes we have to face quite long and irritating traffic jams. Besides this, the condition of the roads throughout the country isn’t as good as it should be.
Again, in this case, the railway means of transport seems to be the best option for Nepalese. The railway is quite comfortable and ideal for long-distance traveling within a country. It facilitates long-distance travel and transport of bulky goods which are not easily transported through motor vehicles in less amount of time.
Cheap Rate Larger Quantity
Almost every one of us must have the idea that the transportation of either goods or people from one place to another is quite cheaper than other means of transport. It’s not only about the cheap rate of transportation. Railway helps to transport goods and other things including traveling of people not only at a cheap rate but in a larger quantity than other means of transport.
The carrying capacity of trains is extremely large than motor vehicles. Moreover, its capacity is elastic which can be extended. The carrying capacity of railways can be increased simply by adding more wagons to them. It helps in the industrialization process of a country by easy transportation of coal and raw materials at a cheaper rate.
Cons Of Railways In Nepal
Looking at the benefits and advantages of Railways, it looks like it will appear as the best mode of transportation in Nepal. Now let’s also talk about some of the possible disadvantages of railways in Nepal and the major possible problems that railways will have to face in Nepal if it is extended throughout the country.
Huge Capital Investment
The first disadvantage of the railway for a developing country like Nepal is that the development of railways will require a massive and huge capital investment. There are many infrastructures that are needed to develop compulsory for the railways that will surely cost billions of dollars.
The cost of construction, maintenance, and overhead expenses of the railways are pretty much higher as compared to other modes of transport. And for a developing nation like Nepal, it will be a big challenge and risky to invest such a big capital into one sector.
Challenging Geographical Structures
Keeping the large investment aside, though it won’t be so easy for the Government Of Nepal and the Railways Department to develop the railway networks throughout the country especially in the hilly and Himalayan areas of a country.
There will occur several big challenges and problems in the construction and development of the infrastructure of railways due to the variations in the geographical distribution of Nepal.
Affect Other Modes Of Transportation
The development of railway networks throughout the country will mostly affect other means of transport like buses, trucks, domestic airlines, etc. Nepal is a country where road transports have been in tradition for a long time for carrying goods and people from one place to another, no matter how long they take to reach the destination.
There are thousands of such transportation services that might close or heavily affected after the development and operation of railways for carrying goods and people.
Fixed Time Of Railways
This couldn’t be a big problem, but even though as we Nepalese have the habit of going a bit of late to bus stations or the places from where we can get means of transportation thinking that they might wait or the bus may come a bit late. And we also think even if I missed one bus, I will get another for sure in a few minutes.
But things don’t work like this on the railways. Their time of arrival and departure is fixed. Trains won’t wait for the people to come. They won’t wait for you even if you have already purchased the tickets. So Its routes and timings can’t be adjusted to individual requirements.
Not Suitable For Short Distance Travelling
By now, most of you have known that the railway is the best means of transport for long-distance traveling. But when it is not so applicable for short distance traveling in a country like Nepal which is not so large in the size.
Suppose you have to go somewhere but there is no railway station there. Then in that case you have to depart to the next station that might be quite distant from that place, and you have to again travel through other local vehicles to reach your exact destination.
So we can say that for a small country like Nepal, it will not be so applicable for passengers who want to travel for a shorter distance.
Rise To Monopolies
This might occur as the biggest problem for railways or you can say the advantage of railways in a country. As we know, there are no competitions in railways, and the entire authority of railways is owned by only one governmental organization. So due to the lack of competition in this sector and owned by only one organization, there is a high chance of rising monopolies in the railway. They can raise the price of the tickets whenever they want. And people or the consumers who will take the service from them have to accept this.
Last But Not The Least: Corruption
We can’t deny the fact that how badly Nepal is affected by corruption in all small and big sectors of Nepal. Corruption has a deep root in Nepal that can’t be easily eradicated and removed. So we can’t ignore the fact that the railway sector of Nepal won’t be affected by corruption. And due to this, there may occur problems like selling tickets of railways by their own officials at a high rate in black.
Future Railway Projects In Nepal
Now according to the research and the reports of Nepal Railways, they are planning to expand the railway network to more than 4000 KM in Nepal in the next 20 years. If such happens, then the total length of the railway network in Nepal will be almost 4 times the length of Nepal.
The Government Of Nepal and the Department Of Railways in Nepal have considered several future railways projects in Nepal to connect the different places of Nepal through the train network. Here is the list of the future railway projects in Nepal that are either under construction or have been planned by the Railways Department.
- East-West Railway
- Nepal-China Railway
- Kerung-Kathmandu Railway
- Anbu Khaireni-Bharatpur Railway
- Jaynagar-Janakpur-Bijayalapur-Bardibad Railway
- Raxaul-Birgunj-Kathmandu Railway
- New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta Railway
- Bhatnaha-Jogbani-Biratnagar Railway
- Nautanwa-Bhairahwa Railway
- Rupaidaiha-Nepalganj Railway
These are the railway projects that have been announced by the Government Of Nepal and the Railway Department Of Nepal. Only a few of the projects are under the initial stage of construction and development. None have any idea about most of these projects will start.