Despite Nepal’s idyllic scenery, filled with snowy Himalayan peaks and mountain monasteries, the country is beset by a bad economy, unstable politics and social ills.

In a bid to brighten its fortunes and future, Nepal is putting plans in place to build an electric rail connecting the country with its closest neighbours: China, Tibet and India.

While connecting to China through Tibet is politically sensitive, the Nepalese Department of Railways is specifically looking to build two sections of electric rail that will link up with the Indian rail network at Lumbini, the birthplace of the Lord Buddha and a Unesco World Heritage Site, on the southern border of Nepal. The front runner for the feasibility study, expected to take two years, is Chung-Suk Engineering, the South Korean firm that has already been selected to do a similar study for the possible metro system in Kathmandu

Both projects are part of Nepal’s proposed and ambitious Mechi-Mahakali and Pokhara-Kathmandu Electric Railway, estimated to take 10 years and 800 billion Nepal rupees to complete.