The Jakarta Post
The long-awaited Trans-Java double-track railroad will commence operations in the first quarter of next year to help boost rail traffic between Java's growth centers, Jakarta and Surabaya (East Java).
Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono said the project was almost finished, with several sections expected to be ready for use during Christmas and New Year.
'Work on several sections, such as the Cirebon [West Java]'Brebes [Central Java] section, have recently been finished. So we will be able to operate the double-track railway between Jakarta and Pekalongan [Central Java] during the coming holiday period,' he said on Friday.
'We are still acquiring some plots of land in the eastern part of Java, but that is not much work; there are only a few spots.'
He said that the plots were located in the Semarang (Central Java)'Bojonegoro (East Java) and Bojonegoro'Surabaya sections.
The government is optimistic that it will have acquired all the land within a month.
Bambang said the government was aiming to complete 97 percent of the 727-kilometer railway project, which is costing the government Rp 9.8 trillion (US$838 million), by the end of this year so that it could conduct a trial operation next January.
'We also plan to build more stations for cargo purposes because we want capacity for 1 million TEUs [20-foot equivalent units] of containers to be transported by train [every year] when the double-track project is completed,' he continued.
The double-track system will increase the existing railway capacity from 64 trains to 200 trains per day as well as also reducing congestion and damage to roads.
Besides increasing rail container traffic from 200,000 TEUs to 1 million TEUs a year, the double-track railroad will also allow people to travel from Jakarta to Surabaya in only eight-and-a-half hours.
Currently, it takes around 13 hours to travel from Jakarta to Surabaya on an express train.
The railway project is part of the government's Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia's Economic Development (MP3EI) program.
After the Trans-Java, Bambang said the government aimed to develop the Trans-Sumatra railway, which would connect Aceh and Lampung.
He said the next project, which will be constructed in stages, required Rp 65 trillion in investment, so the government was seeking to implement it via public-private partnership (PPP).
'The Trans-Sumatra railway is a priority. We will be looking at Medan and Sei Mangkei [both in North Sumatra], as well as South Sumatra and other growth centers as starting points for the project,' he said.
In the first stage, he said the government planned to construct double-track lines from Medan to Kuala Namu International Airport and Belawan International Port, all of which are in North Sumatra.
He expressed his hope that the railroad would be built next year to reduce traveling time, of both people and goods, and thus help lower the cost of logistics.
According to the ministry's data, Indonesia needs Rp 320 trillion in investment, starting from 2011 through 2025, to develop railway services on the nation's five main islands: Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua.
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