The construction of the Trans-Java double track railway connecting Semarang in Central Java to Surabaya in East Java is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month, with operations expected to begin in April.
Transportation Ministry railway system director general Hermanto Widiatmoko said 80 percent of the 727 kilometers of railway along Java's northern coastal area ( Pantura ) had been finished, adding that the company only needed to connect a number of railway sections.
Hermanto said with the operation of the double track railways, the train would need a shorter time to travel. If the Jakarta-Surabaya route needs 10 to 12 hours travel time, it will require only nine hours with the operation of the double track railway.
He said the double track would also make cargo transportation busier.
That's why, he added, state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia ( KAI ) would open a three-kilometer route to connect with the Semarang Tanjung Emas seaport.
'A memorandum of understanding [MoU] between [state-owned seaport operator] PT Pelindo, the Transportation Ministry, PT KAI and Central Java provincial administration will be signed next week,' Hermanto said.
He added that the operation of the new tracks would also double the level of railway traffic.
Currently, railway traffic along Pantura is 84 cars per day and it is expected the number will increase to 200 per day once the double track railway is in operation.
Meanwhile, commercial manager of PT KAI Operational Region ( Daop ) IV Semarang, Bambang Suliastowo, said his company had set a target of a 17.4 percent increase in its revenue as a number of new routes would be offered in 2014.
The company earned Rp 239 billion ( US$21 million ) from its 2013 operation of passenger trains and is expecting to earn Rp 280.75 billion this year. It also expects to earn an additional Rp 22 billion from cargo train operations this year.
Separately, regular train passenger Fajar Wibawa of Semarang warmly welcomed the operation of the double track railway, arguing traffic accidents had been on the rise along the Pantura route.
He expressed hope that with the operation of a double track railway more people would switch to safer modes of public transportation, especially trains.
'What is important is that PT KAI continues prioritizing best services for passengers. Stern action is needed to deal with smoking passengers or vendors onboard trains,' Fajar said.