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All Aboard! Bali Express, Now Leaving on Track Two

Japan and Indonesia Formalize Intentions to Create Bali Rail System.

(12/11/2010) As reported on Balidiscovery.com, Bali is considering the creation of a island-wide slow train system to circumnavigate the island to ease the movement of tourists and reduce traffic congestion [See: Getting Bali on Track].

In the latest development, the Japanese Ministry of Transportation has expressed its formal interest in helping Bali create its own rail system.

The chief of rail transportation at the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation, Tunjung Indrawan, told NusaBali that the Japanese government is actively pursuing a role in the Bali rail project via continuing discussions between Indonesia and Japan, with the most recent round of talks held at The 1st Vice-Ministerial Level Meeting on the Transportation Sector held in Nusa Dua, Bali on Friday, December 3, 2010.

Tunjung confirmed that any eventual rail system for Bali must include private sector participation, saying, "studying from the Japanese transportation system, the participation of the private sector is essential together with support from the central and provincial governments."

Commenting on Bali's future as an island served by its own rail system, the Deputy Minister for Transportation for Indonesia, Dr. Bambang Susantono, said the issue of the need to acquire land for the proposed rail system was secondary to the overriding demand to provide safety and convenience for Bali's visitors. Said Susantono, "there are many benefits to Bali having its own rail system. The level of pollution will be reduced and the level of traffic accidents can be lowered."

Susantono continued, "The investment for a train system is indeed large, but it will really save energy and address global demands that carbon emissions be curved."

Susantono is convinced that the proposed rail system can be in operation in 2-3 years time. To that end, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Indonesian Transportation Ministry have undertaken intensive reviews of the viability and feasibility prior to signing a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) in Bali on December 3, 2010. JICA has underlined to its Indonesian counterparts that in addition to any critical issues of land and right-of-way permits, the agreement and support of the provincial government of Bali was fundamental to whether or not plans proceed to put a rail system in place in Bali.

Bali's governor Pastika has signaled his initial support for a rail system as a means of easing traffic congestion in and providing for a more equitable distribution of tourist visitors to all areas of the island.