JAKARTA — A medium-speed rail service between Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and its second-largest city Surabaya — and built with Japanese assistance — is expected to fully operate from 2025, a Cabinet minister said Thursday.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi made the statement two days after Indonesia and Japan reached a deal on the outline of the project after two years of negotiations.
Budi said the government expects the train to initially begin operating between Jakarta and Cirebon, a city in West Java Province that lies about 219 kilometers away from the capital, in 2024.
In the following year, it would cover the full 720 km distance between Jakarta and Surabaya, according to the plan.
Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said that to support the construction of the railway, about 500 railway crossings will be replaced with flyovers, underpasses and crossing bridges.
In Tuesday’s deal, Indonesia and Japan agreed to use a narrow gauge railway track, instead of a standard gauge, to better adapt to land characteristics in dense and multi-networked areas on Java island.
The project will double the current speed of the existing train from between 80 and 90 km per hour to 160 kph, or cutting the travel time by 3.5 hours from 9 hours to 5.5 hours.
When completed, the route will serve 54 trips, each carrying 900 passengers, a day, linking the two cities.
Indonesia’s Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology has predicted that 12.4 percent of airline passengers between the two cities, which totaled around 8 million last year, will shift to the trains.
Last year, a “political decision” was made by the government to have only Indonesian and Japanese companies participate in the tender to build the railway network.
Indonesia has been leaning toward choosing Japan for the project in an apparent effort to ease Tokyo’s disappointment at losing to China in 2015 in bidding to construct a high-speed railway between Jakarta and Bandung.