India, Nepal exchange pact to increase efficiency, cost-competitiveness in rail freight segment

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Kathmandu, Jul 9 (PTI) India and Nepal on Friday signed a letter of exchange aimed at allowing market forces to come up in the rail freight segment to increase efficiency and cost-competitiveness, making another milestone in India’s efforts to enhance regional connectivity under the “Neighbourhood First” policy.

A virtual ceremony was held to exchange Notes Verbales and signed copies of a Letter of Exchange (LoE) between the two governments to the India-Nepal Rail Services Agreement (RSA), 2004, the Indian mission here said in a statement.

The Indian side was led by Sanjay Kumar Mohanty, Member (Operations and Business Development), Ministry of Railways while the Nepalese side was led by Dinesh Bhattarai, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Supplies.

According to the LoE, all authorised cargo train operators, which include public and private container trains operators, automobile freight train operators, special freight train operators or any other operator authorised by the Indian Railways, will be able to utilise the Indian railway network to carry Nepal's container and other freight -- both between India and Nepal or third country from Indian ports to Nepal, it said.

The liberalisation 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, according to the statement.

Besides, all kinds of cargoes in all categories of wagons that can carry freight on the Indian Railways network within India can also carry freight to and from Nepal, it said.

It will reduce transportation costs for automobiles and certain other products whose carriage takes place in special wagons, it said.

The ceremony was conducted in the presence of India’s Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Nepal’s Ambassador to India Nilamber Acharya, Joint Secretary (North), Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava and Joint Secretary (South Asia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal Tirtha Raj Wagle.

Wagons owned by Nepal Railway Company will also be authorised to carry Nepal-bound freight (inbound and outbound on Kolkata/Haldia to Biratnagar/Birgunj routes) over the Indian Railways network, according to the statement.

The LoE also updates several other portions of the India-Nepal RSA and brings those in line with latest operational and infrastructure status of the Indian and the Nepalese Railways, the Indian mission said, adding that it marks another milestone in India’s efforts to enhance regional connectivity under the “Neighbourhood First” policy. PTI CPS AKJ CPS

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