Nepal to join hands with China on Tibet-Kathmandu railway

Nepal will work with China to link its capital to Tibet by rail as the Himalayan nation strengthens ties with its giant northern neighbor to propel its development, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali told Nikkei in a recent interview.

The plan is to extend the railway from Lhasa to Xigaze in Tibet, which opened in 2014, by 660 km to reach Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu. This would be the first rail link that crosses the Nepal-China border, and is just one facet of China’s drive to expand its influence through the Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative.

“Nepal is a landlocked country. To be developed, we need more and more connectivity,” Gyawali said. “We can import goods at lower cost. The main purpose of the train project is to link to the second-largest economy of the globe.”

A detailed feasibility study will be carried out over the next year and a half, and the construction will take about six years, the minister said.

The initial cost estimate is $2.5 billion, but the figure may increase given the topographical challenges presented by the Himalayas, the world’s highest mountain range. Although most of the money will come from China, “Nepal can share some funding,” Gyawali said.