East West Nepal Railway

Nepal topography. The green/yellow zones hold ...
Nepal topography. The green/yellow zones hold the Inner Terai valleys. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is talk of an East West Nepal Railway. The current talk puts that right next to the Mahendra Rajmarga, the East West Highway. I believe that would be a mistake. The rivers right south of Chure tend to be really wide. You go further south and they narrow down substantially. Bridges are the most expensive part of a road (or rail).

So if the idea is to build an East West Railways at the lowest cost possible, the best part to do it would be in Mid-Terai.

There is widespread feeling among Madhesis that the Mahendra Rajmarga was never built for Madhesis in the first place. It was built for the Pahadis. The highway that would most benefit the Madhesis would be the Postal Highway, or the Hulaki Rajmarga. It goes very close to the Indian border. Because the most dense clusters of the Madhesi population happens to be close to the Indian border.

An East West Railway that runs through the middle of the Terai would benefit the Madhesis a lot. That is true. But that can not be the reason why you not do it. You build it along a route that would be cheapest to build. And you build so as to benefit the largest number of people. That would put the East West Railway along the middle of the Terai.

But you also have to build it for India. India's North-East feels isolated from the rest of India. This East West Railway would connect that North-East to Delhi and mainstream India. The larger South Asian market is what would make this train route indispensable and highly profitable.

It will be easier, much easier, to find investors for the project if you draw in the larger picture. Not only is there a larger South Asian picture, there is also a larger Asian picture. China has plans to connect with India through Sikkim. That rail route could be connected to the Nepal East West Railway. Next thing you know a whole bunch of Indians are traveling through Nepal to get to China.

Such large scale thinking would make it possible to raise large sums of money with which to build something cutting edge. Like bullet trains, for example.


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