KATHAMDNU: A Nepali delegation consisting of senior officials left for Beijing on Monday to hold talks with Chinese officials on preparing a detailed project report for the proposed Kerung-Kathmandu railway line.

The delegation, led by Devendra Karki, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning and Transportation, includes officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance, and the Nepali Embassy in Beijing. This will be the fourth railway meeting between Nepal and China.

The government has allocated Rs 2 billion grant received from China to fund the detailed feasibility study of the Kerung-Kathmandu railway project. The detailed feasibility study has been expected to be completed within one and a half year. After that, the total construction period will be 7 years.

“Since this is a government-to-government deal, we will discuss all aspects of railway development, which China has pledged to support,” said Balaram Mishra, director general of the Department of Railway. “This meeting has been pending for long, so we are expecting a breakthrough regarding the detailed project report for the Kerung-Kathmandu railway.”

The $2.5 billion Trans-Himalayan Kathmandu-Kerung rail will run from the massive Tibetan plateau passing along some of the highest places of the world. The project is considered to be one of the most challenging projects due to topographical issues of the Himalayas under taken by Nepal and China jointly.

The Chinese government has included the cross border railway line as the project to be supported under its flagship connectivity framework–the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In the first phase, the rail line will link Nepal’s Capital Kathmandu and extend to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, in the southern Tarai near Nepal-India border.