The decision follows China’s energetic effort to link the Nepalese capital with Tibet

New Delhi: The contest between India and China for strategic influence in the Himalayas has escalated with authorities in Nepal agreeing to fast-track a rail connection from their capital Kathmandu to the Indian mainland.

Analysts say that India’s initiative has strong security connotations. By connecting Nepal with India along tracks which are of a different gauge, New Delhi has prevented China to bring its railway, and in the worst-case scenario, its troops and equipment, close to the Indian border. Chinese rail tracks follow standard gauge, which are of 1,435 mm wide. On the contrary, Indian broad-gauge tracks have a width of 1,676 mm.

After striking a rough patch that included a territorial dispute and a cartographic clash, India-Nepal ties have been re-booted following a string of high-profile visiting include a trip in October to Kathmandu by India’s spy Chief Samant Goel. India’s army chief, Manoj Mukund Naravane and foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla followed up on Goel’s trip. Nepalese foreign minister Pradip Gyawali is now set to visit New Delhi to add concrete substance to the re-energised relationship.

After stalling for an extended period, the Nepalese authorities have permitted India’s Konkan Railway Corporation Limited to carry out a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to connect Kathmandu with Raxaul, according to the Nepalese website

Raxaul railway station on the India-Nepal border is the only Indian city that is connected across the border to Nepal at Birjung. Raxaul is Nepal’s gateway to India, as it connected by rail with New Delhi and Kolkata, providing a vast hinterland.