Indonesia reaffirms Jakarta-Surabaya high speed railway, wants to involve China

Workers stand beside an Electric Multiple Unit high-speed train for a rail link project part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, at Tegalluar train depot in Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, on Oct 13. - Reuters

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): The government is considering a plan to extend the ongoing Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway megaproject to Surabaya, East Java, despite facing multiple delays on the existing development, in a bid to make the project more economically viable.

Currently, the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway project runs through military-run airport Halim Perdanakusuma, Karawang, Padalarang before ending in Tegalluar -- roughly 19km to Bandung, West Java. Extending the project to the far east of Java will connect Yogyakarta and Surakarta, Central Java, as well, before stopping in Surabaya.

The government claimed it would also cut the Jakarta to Surabaya, East Java, trip to just four hours from currently more than 10 hours.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister of Investment and Maritime Affairs, said on Friday (Oct 28) that the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway remains a good project despite years of delays since its initial completion target in 2019, while extending it to Surabaya could benefit the country more.

“If the government continue this to Surabaya, I think it will make [transportation cost in] Indonesia more efficient,” Luhut told reporters after an event with China Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia.

Asked whether the government would choose between China or Japan to execute the extension, Luhut said that he preferred the former.

“We’ll see. If we are already comfortable with [China], then why find a replacement? I think you do not like switching your spouse, either,” Luhut said.

The Jakarta-Bandung high speed-railway project is currently plagued with ballooning overrun cost, following years of delay, partly due to Covid-19 pandemic and overly optimistic plans, of which the latter was admitted by the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ministry last year.

The project is estimated to cost almost another US$2 billion (Rp 31.14 trillion), bringing the total cost to reach $8 billion. Both sides are still discussing how to tackle the problem, but the scale of the problem has dragged the Indonesian government along for the ride, violating its promise since the beginning that it would be business to business (b2b).

Lu Kang, Chinese Ambassador for Indonesia told reporters on Friday that China has yet to decide, but he said negotiations on that plan could commence right away once the existing project is done.

“Actually, we have not come to that aspect yet. After we accomplish this part [Jakarta-Bandung], it will be good reason for our further discussion. But that’s up to the Indonesian government,” Kang said.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Thursday that the government reflected on the success of mass rapid transit (MRT) built by Japan, which he thought was the reason why extending the high-speed railway to Surabaya was possible.

For now, Budi said he was open with the idea of any country who is willing to partake on the extension. This includes experts who may help realising the project. “We will pay them [the experts],” Budi said, as quoted by Tempo.

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Indonesia , railway , high-speed , China , Bandung


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