A new railway line connecting Gubeng station in Surabaya and Juanda International Airport that will form part of East Java’s Rp 17.39 trillion Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project is expected to ease traffic in the swelling city.
Hadi Prasetyo, an official in charge of economic and development affairs at the East Java administration office, said the railway line would resemble the rail networks of Singapore and other countries.
The trains will run mostly on elevated rail lines carrying two tracks each.
“We will build the support pillars from Aloha Waru, Sidoarjo, to Juanda Airport,” Hadi said on Thursday.
He said the line to the airport would be built on the ground so as not to interfere with low-flying aircraft.
The MRT in East Java will link Surabaya, Lamongan, Gresik, Sidoarjo, Pasuruan and Mojokerto. The project was endorsed by then transportation minister Jusman Syafei Djamal and East Java Governor Imam Utomo on Aug. 5, 2008.
French firm Societe Nationale des Chermins de fer Francis estimated in 1994 that the MRT project would cost Rp 17.39 trillion (about US$1.74 billion).
The MRT would help reduce fuel subsidy spending and pollution by providing an alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
Based on a survey by the Transportation Ministry’s Directorate General of Urban Transportation Systems, road traffic in Surabaya will reach total gridlock by 2013 if the current annual vehicle growth rate remains constant at 12 percent per year.
Currently about 2.9 million people live in Surabaya, which has a foot print of about 29,000 hectares. The administration says the ideal population for the city is 2.1 million people.
Hadi said the MRT project had been divided into two stages, where the initial stage would involve the construction of a 42-kilometer highway running from Surabaya to Waru to Sidoarjo, which would include the renovation of a number of train stations and shelters.
The second stage will see the construction of the elevated railway tracks connecting Surabaya-Gresik-Lamongan, and Surabaya-Mojokerto and Sidoarjo-Pasuruan.
“In the initial stage, the government will disburse Rp 30 billion to lay down railway tracks on PT KA state railway company’s land as this would likely not call for evictions,” he said.
He said that before starting work on the supporting pillars for the elevated tracks, his office would work with various stakeholders, including the Surabaya and Sidoarjo city administrations, PT KA, the Indonesian Navy and the Angkasa Pura state-run airport management agency.
PT KA’s eighth operational zone spokesman Sri Winarto said the MRT tracks would be built on top of the existing railway lines. The project is expected to ease traffic to the airport.
“As planned, PT KA will serve eight stops between Gubeng Station and Juanda Airport daily,” Hadi said.
The government operates the commuter train system serving Surabaya and Sidoarjo.
Based on a study conducted by Petra Christian University , the train service has reduced congestion in Surabaya because a large number of people have shifted to commuter rail because it is faster than driving.