The International Steam Pages

The Janakpur Railway (Nepal Railway) RIP, 2014

The iconic narrow gauge Janakpur Railway ran from Jainagar (just inside India) to Janakpur and on to Bijalpura. I say 'ran' because it is no more, destroyed to make way for a broad gauge line financed by India to counter Chinese influence in the region, Nepal having always been seen by India as falling within its sphere of influence. It seems likely that the last trains ran in early 2014. I have made just minor changes to Sumit Sharma's report as received:

"Between 28th July and 1st August 2014 my father Mr. Ashok Sharma and I visited the Nepal Railway Company Ltd office in Kathmandu, regarding an upcoming tour's charter permission and some information. Upon meeting the with the official from Railway the Ministry, he informed us that the Janakpur Railway line is uprooted and a new phase of upgrading is happening from the Indian side (Jainagar). This is an effort of broadening the network of Nepal Railway across the country and a new department has been formed i.e. Department of Railways. The Nepal Railway Company Ltd. is now a sub division of newly formed ministry. Most of the staff and workers in Janakpur were relieved of their duties and 6 months ago the only railway in Nepal was stopped for broadgauging. It was both shocking and unexpected information for us as it was not available within our network of railway enthusiasts or anywhere else. Immediately we flew to Janakpur and inspected the line as far as Jainagar via an unreconstructed muddy road.

Indian Railways is developing this 29 km railway line starting from Jainagar towards Janakpur. On Jainagar atation where the construction work is proceeding very quickly, we saw a newly built locoshed with a BG loco in it, a new overhead bridge connecting the Indian and Nepalese sides and over to the platform. On the way from Janakpur to Jainagar we met an engineer from the construction company who said that widening and levelling work is under way, they have uprooted the NG tracks. 

The Khajuri workshop is also in bad shape, all the engines are piled up there and waiting for the ministerial decision as to whether they will be kept or dismantled. Railway officials in Kathmandu seemed very enthusiastic about restoring the old engines from Khajuri and not to sell them, only time will tell us what will happen.

This new upgrading of the Janakpur Railway is a part of the Nepal government's plan to strengthen its long awaited implementation of a proper railway network in Nepal. In the first phase, Janakpur will be connected with Jainagar and in later phases Kakrabhitta, Ithari - Bardibas - Jogbani , Bardibas - Janakpur - Jainagar, Simra - Birgunj - Raxaul, Kohalpur - Nepalgunj - Nepaljujn up to Mahakali - Gaddachaucki.

Many countries are lined up to bid for the next phases of rail network development including India, South Korea and China. This is all happening as China is bringing its railway network up to Nepal and unofficially China Rail is already barely 50-60 km from the Nepalese border and the railway line project to Nepal is running far, far ahead of its proposed plan for 2020. A verbal communication from a higher official of Nepal railway confirmed that China Rail is already near to its border and it is unimaginable how China has done this work. It has given the jitters to the Indian and Nepalese governments and they have immediately started off with the broadgauging of the Jainagar - Janakpur section without releasing information to any news channel. This is very much 'hush hush' in both India and Nepal."

There are few mentions of this project on the web, the following 4 reports from within Nepal are almost all a quick search brings up, they are arranged in chronological order,

July 2011

August 2011 

April 2012

July 2014

All pictures are copyright Sumit Sharma, Real India Journeys

This was the scene that greeted them at Janakpur Station, outside all was quiet, inside was not a pretty sight:

At Khajuri workshops not far from Jainagar,.as it has done almost every day since the Indian diesels and their technicians arrived in 1994, the clock stands still.

And for the last few months no train has called at the station and the workshops are quieter than ever:

Rob Dickinson