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Indonesia, Japan reach deal on Jakarta-Surabaya medium-speed rail project

People returning to their home villages wait for trains at the Pasar Senen Station in Jakarta on May 31, 2019. Indonesia will build a medium-speed train linking its capital and Surabaya. (AP photo). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

JAKARTA, Sep 25, 2019, Kyodo. Indonesia and Japan signed a deal Tuesday on an outline of a medium-speed train project linking the Southeast Asian country’s capital Jakarta and its second-largest city Surabaya, reported The Mainichi.

After two years of negotiations, the two countries 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.

“When the project is completed, Java will become (like) a big city,” Indonesian Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said in a speech after the signing of the deal.

“This is a strategic national project that will provide a big jump to our train services,” Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said in another speech.

The project will double the current speed of the existing train from between 80 and 90 kilometers 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.

The project will be split into two phases, with the first between Jakarta and the Central Java provincial capital Semarang and the second between Semarang and Surabaya, capital of East Java province, covering distances of 436 km and 284 km, respectively.

In an interview with Kyodo News a couple months ago, President Joko Widodo expected construction of the railway to start next year.

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.

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