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Indonesia, Japan to decide on gauge for Jakarta-Surabaya rail by March

  • December 9, 2017
  • , Kyodo News , 8:52 p.m.
  • English Press

JAKARTA — Indonesia and Japan are expected to decide by March on the gauge — the distance between the tracks — for a planned medium-speed train service between Jakarta and Surabaya, Indonesian government officials said Friday.


The two countries are discussing whether they are going to use the narrow gauge or standard gauge for the joint project expected to be launched in mid-2018, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters.


“The cost of the standard gauge will be higher, but the train can run up to 200 kilometers per hour, so it will only take about 3.5 hours from Jakarta to Surabaya,” Pandjaitan said, referring to a track gauge of 1,435 mm.


If the narrow-gauge option is picked, the Jakarta-Surabaya train will only be able to run at between 140 and 160 km per hour, taking about 5.5 hours to travel between the two cities on the 725-km railway line.


Most countries adopt the standard gauge that allows interconnectivity and interoperability (the ability to function with other systems or components). Only a few countries, including Australia, Indonesia and some parts of Japan, use the narrow gauge which is less than 1,435 mm.

Further discussions will be had with Japan when Pandjaitan visits the country next week.


Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said the cost difference between the two options will be about 30 trillion rupiah (about $2.2 billion).


The initial investment value of the project was estimated at 60 trillion rupiah. If the standard gauge is used, Pandjaitan said, the total investment value “may reach triple digits.”


A project cost proposal will be determined by feasibility studies conducted by Indonesia’s Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology, or BPPT, with input from experts from South Korea and Germany, and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.


The studies are currently being synchronized and some decisions may be made by March, according to Budi.


BPPT has predicted that 12.43 percent of airline passengers between the two cities, which totaled around 8.04 million last year, will shift to the trains.


Japan lost out to China in 2015 in bidding to construct a high-speed railway between Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, and the West Java provincial capital Bandung.

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