Kathmandu, 10 July: Nepal and India have signed a Letter of Exchange (LoE) to the India-Nepal Rail Services Agreement (RSA) 2004. A virtual ceremony was held Friday to exchange Notes Verbales and signed copies of the LoE, between the two governments.
The LoE also updated several other portions of the India-Nepal RSA and brings them in line with the latest operational and infrastructure status of Indian and Nepalese Railways.
The ceremony was led by Sanjay Kumar Mohanty, Member (Operations and Business Development), Ministry of Railways, from India and Dinesh Bhattarai, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Supplies from Nepal.
Ambassador of India to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Nepali Ambassador to India Nilamber Acharya, Joint Secretary (North) at the Ministry of External Affairs of India Anurag Srivastava and Joint Secretary (South Asia) at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal Tirtha Raj Wagle attended the virtual ceremony along with representatives from the two Embassies and concerned Ministries of both the governments.
As the LoE comes into effect, all authorized cargo train operators, including public and private container trains operators, automobile freight train operators, special freight train operators or any other operator authorized by Indian Railways, will be able to utilize the Indian railway network to carry Nepal’s container and other freight – both bilateral between India and Nepal or third country from Indian ports to Nepal.
This liberalization will allow market forces to come up in the rail freight segment in Nepal, and is likely to increase efficiency and cost-competitiveness, eventually benefiting Nepalese traders, transporters and the consumer, said a statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.
Further, after this LoE, all kinds of cargoes in all categories of wagons that can carry freight on Indian Railways network within India can also carry freight to and from Nepal. The liberalization will particularly reduce transportation costs for automobiles and certain other products whose carriage takes place in special wagons.
Wagons owned by Nepal Railway Company will also be authorized to carry Nepal-bound freight (inbound and outbound on Kolkata/Haldia to Biratnagar/Birgunj routes) over the Indian Railways network as per Indian Railways standards and procedures.
The exchange marks another milestone in India’s efforts to enhance regional connectivity under its “Neighborhood First” policy.