The Jakarta Post
State-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) has set a target to reactivate the trans-Sumatra train connecting Medan in North Sumatra to Aceh by 2019.
The vice president of the company’s regional division I North Sumatra, Mateta Rijalulhaq, said that the project had been speeded up to meet the high public demand for a train to serve the route.
“I was told by the railway directorate general that the trans-Sumatra railway track will be ready for operation by 2019,” Mateta told The Jakarta Post at his office on Monday.
He said that the target was not too ambitious, considering that so far, three railway stations, ones that had been built during the Dutch colonial era and subsequently closed, had been reactivated in Aceh since November 2016.
The three stations are Krueng Geukeuh, Bungkaih and Krueng Mane. All are located in North Aceh. They are connected by tracks with a total length of 11.3 kilometers and are served by the Cut Meuthia train with 10 return trips a day.
In March 2016, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo officially launched the reactivation of the trans-Sumatra railway’s 80-kilometer Binjai-to-Besitang section.
According to recent data, 299.85 km of the trans-Sumatra railway track are in operation. Of that distance, 288.5 km are located in North Sumatra.
Of the planned 1,574.5 km of track to be operated for the transSumatra railway train, 411.5 km will be located in North Sumatra, while 600 km will be built in Aceh and the remaining 563 km will be in Riau.
The construction of the whole length of track is expected to be completed by 2021. The total budget needed for this project is Rp 22.073 trillion (US$1.6 billion).
Mateta said the operation of the passenger and freight trains has received a warm welcome from locals, adding that in Aceh between 200 and 300 passengers had been using the service daily for a fare of Rp 1,000 per trip.
He said the three available stations would later be connected directly to the stations in Medan. “People do hope to have a train that connects North Sumatra to Aceh,” said Mateta.
He added that the reactivation of the North Sumatra–Aceh railway track was started from Binjai Station in North Sumatra. The operation would be gradually extended to the Medan-Besitang route, covering a distance of 80 km, and afterwards continued to Langsa and then North Aceh.
Mateta also said that most of the tracks used for the trans-Sumatra railway were a legacy from the Dutch colonial administration.
“Except in Bireun, we will build a new track there,” he said, adding that most parts of the route passed by local people’s plantations and residences.
Separately, spokesperson of PT KAI’s Divre I North Sumatra, Joni Martinus, said that people’s interest in using trains for transportation was high as shown by the increasing number of railway passengers every year. “This year, we have the target to serve 3,289,208 passengers, a 7 percent increase compared to last year’s figure of 2,998,994,” Joni said.
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