Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung-Surabaya Rail Project Back on Track

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Japanese Investors Come In On China Belt & Road Project

Op/Ed By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Indonesia has announced the re-start and expansion of the planned Java Hi-Speed Rail project, which had stalled among political, finance and coronavirus issues.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has had the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project extended to Surabaya city in the eastern part of Java Island and integrated it into one line, Chief Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said last Saturday (May 30). President Jokowi said that the current national strategic projects have to be prioritised as they directly shore up Indonesian economy and contribute to the national economic recovery.

The government has also now opted to include Japan in the Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC) consortium to develop the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, as Indonesia seeks to expedite and expand the national strategic project, a senior minister has said.

Japan, which was outbid by China for the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project, has been working with the Indonesian government to develop a medium-speed line to connect Jakarta and Surabaya, East Java. Now these two lines are to be brought together, meaning it will be a rare Belt & Road Initiative project that will see some collaboration between Chinese and Japanese engineers.

Map by Gunawan Kartapranata / CC BY-SA 4.0

Minister of transportation Budi Karya Sumadi stated that the route will be able to cover the Jakarta-Surabaya route in five hours, at an average speed of 140 kilometers per hour. In the construction of level crossings, both for flyovers and underpasses, the Ministry will coordinate with the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing.
Jakarta – Semarang facilities are expected to reduce the eight- to nine-hour travel time to only five hours. The minister noted that there are at least 1,000 railroad crossings on the route between Jakarta and Surabaya. Moreover, the government should construct a double track with displaced railroad crossings as well as setting up overhead electricity lines. The hi-speed rail project is a landmark joint effort between Indonesia, China and Japan and also seen as a revolution in the country’ land transportation systems. With goals to drive the economic growth on the surrounding areas of the railway lines, government expects the construction of this fast train line to be completed between Jakarta and Bandung in 2021 and to Surabaya by 2022, and is expected to require a total investment of US$6.07 billion.

We have previously explored the linking of Java’s rail system to include joint rail, shipping and ferries to Singapore and Australia in the 2015 article Beijing To Sydney To Train: The Potential Development Of A Singapore, Indonesia & Australia Rail Network.

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