The first railway in Nepal was the Nepal Government Railway (NGR), a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge railway, built by the British in 1927, during the Rana period.[6] The railway connected Raxaul in British India with Amlekhganj in the Kingdom of Nepal.[7] This 39-kilometre-long (24 mi) line allowed people from different areas of the country to reach Amlekhganj, and helped move heavy vehicles to Bhimphedi. It was then possible to reach Kathmandu from Bhimphedi on foot. The railway possessed seven steam locomotives, 12 coaches and 82 wagons.[8] It operated steam-powered Garratt locomotives manufactured by Beyer, Peacock and Company of the United Kingdom.[9]

The second railway in the country was the Nepal Janakpur–Jaynagar Railway (NJJR), a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge railway, built by the British in 1937, during the Rana period. This 28-mile-long (45 km) track was built to carry timber from the then heavily forested areas of Janakpur in the Kingdom of Nepal to Jaynagar in British India.[10] The railway was later extended to Bijalpura.

The Raxaul–Amlekhganj railway track was operational until 1965. It was closed down after opening of the Tribhuvan Highway.[11] The railway track from Raxaul was converted to 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) broad gauge by Indian Railways to connect Sirsiya (Birganj) Inland Container Depot (ICD). The railway became fully operational in 2005, though certain segments were used as early as 2002. It is used to move containers and other cargo to and from the Kolkata port and other places in India. It is the most important entry point for imports into China, and is essential for Nepal’s commerce and trade. Birganj is located 700 km (430 mi) from the Kolkata port by railway.

After a washout of the railway embankment and two bridges, the track between Janakpur and Bijayalpura (22 km railway line) was closed in 2001. The remaining Janakpur–Jaynagar railway track was converted to 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) broad gauge in 2018. The extension to Bardibas remains under construction.