Policy Review: Waiting the First Indonesia’s High Speed Train Operates

High Speed Train Prototype - Photo by China Railway Corporation

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The long waiting for the first fast train in Indonesia seems to be stalling with the resumption of Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway (HSR) project after delayed for several months on land acquisition and financing issues.

China Railway Corporation (CRC) said on Friday (29/06), the construction of the project will resume soon. Based on the current development, government revised its target to commence the operation of Jakarta-Bandung HSR in 2024 from initial plan 2020.

China and Indonesia signed an agreement in October 2015 to establish a joint venture to build and operate the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway. The line’s groundbreaking ceremony was held in January 2016. However, construction was postponed due to issues ranging from funding to land acquisition.

The key reason for the delay is not at all surprising: the government blames slow progress in the land clearance process, incomplete talks related to the financing scheme as well as the extension of the line, which is now designed to reach Kertajati Airport in West Java.

Based on government data, so far, the land clearing has only reached 54 kilometers out of total length of 142 kilometers. Otherwise loans from the China Development Bank (CDB) be able to disbursed last April over the various issues on the development.

CDB has disbursed US$170 million worth of loan to the developer PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), which is the first stage of the total loan $4.5 billion to help fund development of Jakarta-Bandung HSR.

KCIC, which is backed by a consortium consisting of Indonesian and Chinese companies, has developed the first stage of the HSR since 2016. The entire 142.3 kilometer long fast train project is estimated to cost about $5.9 billion, of which $4.5 billion is expected to come from loan from CDB.

Last May, General Manager of the company Lu Dongfu visited Indonesia and company by Indonesian minister to inspected the progress of the railway project. Lu and Minister of State-owned Enterprise (SOEs) Rini Soemarno jointly inspected the entrance construction point of Jakarta-Bandung HSR tunnel.
He stated that the construction of the railway project was starting a new chapter through both sides’ joint effort as well as respective advantages. In the meeting, Soemarno promised that her ministry would organize Indonesian SOEs to support the implementation of the HSR project.
Lu pointed out that since the beginning of the implementation of Jakarta-Bandung HSR project, now the implementation of the project is in place followed the progress of project permit, land acquisition, financing and other key conditions are gradually being met.
He said, that the project is a flagship project promoting the development of the “Belt and Road” and serving the diplomatic strategy of the state, and a model project letting more people know about the Chinese HSR brand, promoting the go-global efforts of China’s high speed railway sector.
China Railway, the world’s 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 between Jakarta and Bandung is expected to be cut from more than three hours on the current line to about 40 minutes on the high-speed rail line.
Unclear with the completion of Jakarta-Bandung HST, now the government has started planning the development of the Jakarta-Surabaya semi-high speed train project with Japan. Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi has said, the two-phase project is estimated to require an investment of Rp80 Trillion ($5.79 billion) and start to commences this year.
The first phase will reportedly be a Jakarta-Semarang section, which is anticipated to be completed within two years. The second, Semarang-Surabaya phase, will start up construction in 2019.
Sumadi stated that the semi-fast train will be able to cover the Jakarta-Surabaya route within five hours, at a minimum 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-Surabaya medium-speed railway facilities are expected to reduce the eight- to nine-hour travel time to only five hours. Sumadi 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 high-speed train project is a landmark joint effort between Indonesia, China and Japan and also seen as a revolution in the country’s 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 will materialized soon.
For us, beside develop lot of infrastructure projects all over the archipelago, government should think creating new economic growth around it to make the impact felt by society. So far, the implication of massive infrastructure development has not shown major contribution to economic growth.
US$1: 14,000  

Email: linda.silaen@theinsiderstories.com