Rail operation uncertain on Janakpur-Jayanagar broad-gauge lineInfrastructure was built months ago. Department of Railways says service will commence by mid-March.
Rail operation along the Janakpur-Jayanagar broad-gauge line has yet to start even as the track and other infrastructure were built around two years ago.
Local people have started expressing their ire as the authorities have failed to resume the service despite repeated assurances. Then minister for physical infrastructure and transport Raghubir Mahaseth had publicly committed to relaunching the railway service by 2018.
“It is still not clear when the service will begin. People question the delays though the infrastructure has already been prepared,” said Sunil Mishra, a resident of Janakpur.
According to the Department of Railways, the procurement process for two rail engines and compartments started long ago. Balaram Mishra, director general of the department, said a contract was signed with Konkan Railways Corporation Limited of India. “It’s time for the delivery of the rail engine. The service will be started by mid-March 2020,” Mishra claimed.
In May, the Railway Department signed the agreement with the Indian company to supply two diesel-electric multiple unit train sets for passenger service from Kurtha of Janakpur to Jaynagar of India.
The 69 km Jayanagar-Janakpur-Bardibas railway has been built at a cost of around Rs10 billion, with support from the Indian government. Indian Railway Construction Company Limited built the line in three phases—Jayanagar to Kurtha, Kurtha to Bhangaha and Bhangaha to Bardibas. The stretch in India is 3 kilometres long. Construction started in 2010, with the target of operating rail service by the end of 2018.
Monsoon floods this year swept away 71 metres of the railroad near Inarwa station along Khajuri-Jayanagar section. “Maintenance of the damaged line is in the final stage. It will be completed soon,” said Binod Ojha, an engineer at the Department of Railways.
Preparations are going on to commence the rail service along the 35-km Jayanagar-Janakpur stretch in the first phase. Mishara estimates that it will take two to three years to operate the service up to Bardibas of Mahottari district.
The Janakpur-Jayanagar track was built nearly 85 years ago during the British colonial rule in India with an objective of transporting timber from the forests of Mahottari to India. The old line spanned 52 km from Bijulpura in Mahottari, Nepal, to Jaynagar in Bihar, India.
Railway law yet to be formulated
Though the railway infrastructure is ready for operation, the law to govern the service is not in place. Staff recruitment process has yet to begin. “The railway law has already been approved by the Cabinet. The upcoming winter session of Parliament will endorse the law,” said Mishra, adding that the hiring process would begin soon after the law is enacted. An estimated 200 employees are required for operating the Jayanagar-Janakpur rail service.