The government has earmarked up to Rp 6 trillion (US$684 million) to finalize the 727-kilometer double track railway in northern Java.
Work has already been completed on the Jakarta–Cirebon section.
Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Sutantono said the project on the northern coast area of Java would be completed in 2013.
“The urgent work to complete is connecting Cirebon and Kroya,” he said after attending a signing ceremony in Bandung on Thursday.
The ceremony marked a grant worth $593,954 by the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to state railway firm PT Kereta Api Indonesia (PT KAI).
The railway project is part of the Indonesia Economic Development Expansion and Acceleration master plan program. “First the north coast line, then the south line will follow suit,” Bambang said.
PT KAI spokesperson Sugeng Priyono said around 370 kilometers of the north coast line had yet to be upgraded to a double track.
The work has been spurred on the crossing points of trains from the west to east, and vice versa.
“If the double railway line is completed, we can expand our capacity,” he said.
The need for a double line on the north coast of Java comes from passenger and cargo frequencies.
The government also planned to finish a 1,000-kilometer double line on the south coast of Java by 2015.
“We need between Rp 3 trillion and Rp 4 trillion for that project,” Bambang said.
The government will also develop railways in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
“We will develop the line from Medan to the Seimenkei industrial zone, while in Kalimantan, we will develop the railway according to the uniqueness of the respective provinces, which are mainly mining and plantation areas,” Bambang said.
Railway development in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan is crucial to supporting local and national economic acceleration.
Bambang said infrastructure development in each province would be adapted to its respective characteristics.
“The private sector has started acquiring land in East Kalimantan, while in Central Kalimantan, a tender has been offered to procure trains for the mining sector,” he said.
In regards to the grant from the US, Bambang said the aid was expected to improve railway signaling and telecommunications systems.
“The study provided by the USTDA is aimed at assessing all railway signaling systems in Java and Sumatra. We hope that a recommendation will be issued to build a railway system that is more efficient, safe and dependable for moving people and cargo,” he said.
The US grant was presented by US Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel to PT KAI managing director Ignasius Jonan. The cooperation will be carried out over in years.
Marciel said he hoped the grant would improve the safety and efficiency of Indonesia’s railways.
“We see this project as an opportunity to help PT KAI and the Indonesian government improve the efficiency and the safety of the railway system so they can better serve the Indonesian people, both passengers and companies,” Scot said.
Better efficiency, he added, could spur economic growth in Indonesia, which has reached 6.5 percent.