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India, Nepal sign agreements to boost cross-border train services


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India and Nepal have signed two agreements aimed at boosting cross-border train services and reviewed ongoing railway projects as part of efforts by the two countries to improve regional connectivity and trade.

The agreements were inked as the two sides held the fifth meeting of a joint working group and the seventh meeting of a project steering committee in New Delhi during October 6-7 to review the implementation of cross-border railway links and bilateral cooperation in the railways sector.

The signing of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for starting passenger train services on the Jaynagar-Kurtha section will help finalise the technical aspects of running passenger trains in this region. The SOPs will also serve as a guiding document for the early start of services in upcoming cross-border railway links.

The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a final location survey (FLS) for a proposed broad gauge railway line between Raxaul and Kathmandu. This proposed link is aimed at boosting connectivity between the two countries, the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The officials of the two countries reviewed progress on the Raxaul-Kathmandu railway link and discussed several phase-II railway link projects. Both sides agreed to enhance technical cooperation in the railways sector, including in the areas of capacity-building, logistics support and training of Nepal’s railway personnel.

Both sides also discussed ongoing work on the Jaynagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas and Jogbani-Biratnagar broad gauge cross-border railway lines, which are being developed with grant assistance from the Indian government.

The technical preparedness of a 34-km section of the railway line from Jaynagar in India to Kurtha in Nepal for starting passenger train services was also reviewed. The Nepali side said the required regulatory framework will be put in place to facilitate early operationalisation of services.

The Nepali side said it will facilitate the completion of the 17.25-km railway line from Kurtha to Bilajpura at the earliest. Both sides also agreed to expedite work to complete the 18.6-km railway line from Jogbani to Biratnagar.The Indian side at the JWG meeting was led by Manoj Singh, executive director (traffic transportation-freight) in the railway ministry, while Anurag Bhushan, joint secretary in the external affairs ministry led the Indian side at the PSC meeting. The Nepali team for both meetings was led by Keshab Kumar Sharma, joint secretary in the ministry of physical infrastructure and transport.

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