The senior minister for maritime and investment affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, asked Chinese government to connect the Jakarta - Surabaya Medium-Speed Railway with Jakarta - Bandung Medium-Speed Railway project - Photo by CMMI Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The senior minister for maritime and investment affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, asked Chinese government to connect the Jakarta – Surabaya Semi-fast Railway with Jakarta – Bandung Semi-fast Railway project. He has offered the project at the meeting with China’ councillor Wang Yi weeks ago after Japan refused the government proposal.

Some media reported, Tokyo had rejected the Jakarta’ invitation to sign the extended project, saying it was focused on its the Jakarta – Surabaya project. The Japan-backed rail project traverses the north side of Java. However, the country wants the high-speed railway to pass through the south side of the island. The government believes that an extension will make the project more economically viable.

The Jakarta – Bandung project built by PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), a consortium lead by state firm, PT Wijaya Karya Tbk (IDX: WIKA) and Chinese companies. CEO of KCIC, Chandra Dwiputra, has said now the company is waiting the delivery of 12,000 train tracks from China.

The Jakarta – Bandung project was initiated by Japan in the era of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) helped by the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA). The study at that time was carried out to build a Jakarta – Surabaya Semi-fast Train with a distance of 748 kilometers. The train is projected to cover this distance in 5.5 hours with an average speed of 160 kilometers.

The feasibility study process began in early 2014. For the initial stage, a new semi-fast train will be built with a route from Jakarta – Bandung before continuing to Surabaya. However, due to various constraints, the project failed to be implemented in SBY era until it was rolled back in the era of President Joko Widodo but not partnering with Japan, but with the Chinese government.

China and Indonesia signed an agreement in October 2015 and ground the project on January 2016. However, construction was postponed due to various issues, ranging from funding to land acquisition. China Development Bank has disbursed US$170 million worth of loan to the developer KCIC, which is the first stage of the total loan $4.5 billion to help fund development of the Jakarta – Bandung project.

KCIC has developed the first stage of the HSR since 2016. The entire 142-kilometers long project is estimated to cost about $6.5 billion. China Railway, the world’ largest railway operator, said that the trains will have a maximum design speed of 350 kilometers per hour on the four-stop rail line, and travel time is expected to be cut from more than three hours.

Indonesian government is targeting the Jakarta-Bandung semi-fast train will be operates in 2021 after years of delay. Dwiputra said the construction work will be boosted in this year by increasing the labor force and more massive mobilization of tools.

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