The Transportation Ministry has assigned state-owned electronic components maker PT LEN Industri to build the signaling system for the 727-kilometer Trans-Java double-track railroad construction project in northern Java.
The railway construction project connecting Jakarta and Surabaya, East Java, budgeted at Rp 9.8 trillion (US$1.03 billion), is part of the government’s Master Plan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Growth (MP3EI).
Transportation Ministry railways chief Tundjung Inderawan said the system’s installation was slated to be complete by 2014.
In 2012, he said, the project would be centered on laying the cables needed to support the railway signaling system. In 2013, the project’s core point would be to assemble all the parts of the interlocking system, including signal lights, track circuitry and point machines.
Earlier this year, Tundjung said the ministry aimed at finishing the Cirebon- Brebes, Pekalongan-Semarang, Semarang-Bojonegoro and Bojonegoro-Surabaya sections by the end of 2013, a year earlier than expected after securing Rp 1.47 trillion in additional funding from the state budget.
The railway signal system is a guide for train drivers, telling them when to start and stop trains and what speed to travel at. Most of the signaling systems in Indonesia are still operated manually.
“The electronic signaling system is a crucial part of the safety infrastructure because it regulates train traffic,” Tundjung told reporters in Jakarta recently.
Separately, LEN Industri’s president director Wahyuddin Bagenda said the government had appointed the company to carry out the project in a contract worth US$190 million.
He said that currently only about 20 percent or 30 percent of the total double-track railroad used electronic signaling systems.
“The certification from the government of our interlocking system product gives us the confidence to compete with other systems like SSI [Solid State Interlocking], VPI [Vital Processor Interlocking] and Westrace [Westinghouse Train Radio and Advance Control],” he said.
SSI was developed by British Railways and is installed in the train stations in Greater Jakarta while the US-developed Vital Processor Interlocking (VPI) system is installed in the railroads connecting Jakarta to Bandung, West Java.
Australia’s Westrace has been installed in some train stations in the southern part of Java.
The variety of railway signaling systems means that only the respective manufacturers can repair devices or electronic components in each system.
Contacted separately, Transportation expert Djoko Setijowarno told The Jakarta Post he applauded the ministry’s latest attempt to equip the Trans-Java double-track railroad, but said that the government ought to consider accelerating the project to give travelers an alternative to the shabby Java north coast highway (Pantura).
“In recent years, the government has allocated about Rp 1 trillion annually just to fix Pantura. If the Trans-Java double-track railroad was completed, we could expect an increase in current capacity from 64 to 200 trains per day,” he said in a text message.