Nepal - Transportation
Nepal's ratios of road mileage to area and to population are among the lowest in the world, and the principal means of land transport is by porters with pack animals. The main highways are the 190-km (118-mi) road that penetrates the Ka¯thmāndu Valley, connecting it with the Indian border; the 87-km (54-mi) road between Ka¯thmāndu and Kodari on the Tibetan (Chinese) border, which was severely damaged by flooding in late 1982 and was later rebuilt with Chinese assistance; the 862-km (536-mi) east-west Mahendra Highway; and the 200-km (124-mi) Ka¯thmāndu-Pokhara highway, which is being extended to Surkhet. In all, Nepal had 13,223 km (48,217 mi) of roadway in 2002, of which 4,073 km (2,531 mi) were paved.
There are no waterways in Nepal. The only practical seaport for goods bound for Ka¯thmāndu is Calcutta in India.
Nepal had a total of 59 km (37 mi) of railways in 2002, all in Kosi close to the Indian border. A narrow gauge railway, opened in 1927, runs from Jayanagar, in India, to Janakpur, a distance of 52 km (32 mi), of which 10 km (6 mi), running from Raxaul, India, to the frontier town of Birganj, is government owned. An electrically driven ropeway, inaugurated in 1925 and improved with US aid in 1962, carries 25 tons an hour a distance of 43 km (27 mi), to a height of nearly 1,400 m (4,500 ft) from Hetaura to Ka¯thmāndu.
Much of Nepal is easily accessible only by air. In 2001 there were 45 airports, of which 9 had permanently surfaced runways. The leading air terminal is Tribhuvan airport at Ka¯thmāndu. Domestic flights are operated by the Royal Nepal Airlines Corp., which also schedules flights to Great Britain, Germany, India and eight other Asian countries. In 2001, 641,100 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.