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All Aboard!

Indonesia Considers a Super-Fast Rail Link that Would Connect Jakarta and Surabaya in Less than 3 Hours

(1/29/2012) The Ministry of Transportation is hoping to create a super-fast Agro Cahaya train service connecting Jakarta and Surabaya, inspired by the Shinkansen Japanese Express Train. The new train service would be able to travel the 685 kilometer distance acorss the length of Java in just 2 hours and 53 minutes.

The new system is estimated to cost Rp. 180 trillion (US$20 billion) and is estimated to be built by 2014

Quoted by Bisnis.com, the Deputy-minister for Transportation, Bambang Susantono, said: "The plan to build a super-fast train service is still an early concept. In 2008, we did a preliminary feasibility study with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Transport Consult. We will follow the concept of the Shinkansen Train Service in Japan which has operated for 45 years with zero accidents."

He explained that the desire to connect Jakarta and Surabaya with a super-fast train reflects the fact that the two cities represent the two largest economies in Indonesia and the chance to bolster the economies of the cities located along the proposed route.

The Deputy-minister compared the proposed Indonesian super-fast train system to other services now in operation between Tokyo and Osaka, Beijing and Shanghai, and Boston and Washington, D.C..

Bambang said the super-fast train is planned to travel at a maximum speed of 300 kilometers per hour with an average speed of 250 kilometers per hour. The current rail service between Jakarta and Surabaya is traveled by the Argo Bromo at a speed of 90 kilometers per hour. The super-fast train would be powered by electricity with each train comprised of 8-12 rail cars capable of carrying 600 passengers. The system would require an elevated rail to allow the trains to operate above the vehicular traffic grid.

Bambang explained that the super-fast trip will consume US$14.3 billion for construction, not including land acquisition costs, detailed engineering design and other elements which will bring the total bill to US$20 billion.

The pre-feasibility study estimated the rail system will cost US$29-30 million per running kilometers (Rp. 261 billion). A similar system in China cost Rp. 223 billion per kilometers and in Taiwan Rp. 331 billion per kilometer. Construction is estimated to take 10 years, divided into three periods: 5-6 years for the construction of the system and the remaining years for trial operations.

Malaysia and Thailand are reportedly also undertaking a study on a super-fast rail systems connecting the two nations.

The Deputy-minister said that the proposed super-fast rail system could be operated by the state-owned PT Kereta Api Indonesia or by a private company. He said the price of the rail trip would need to be cheaper that an air ticket. Bambang said plans are to use private-public partnership or a program of cooperation with the private sector to help realize the project.

He added that the plan for the super-fast rail system running across north Java was still in the pre-feasibility stage and the decision on weather or not to move ahead to a fully-fledged feasibility study depends on a number of factors, including the priority given to the project by the public and the political will to move ahead with the concept.