Ja­pan, China rail­way projects show progress

The Jakarta Post - - FRONT PAGE - Farida Su­santy

The coun­try’s am­bi­tious rail­way projects in­volv­ing Ja­pan and China in a sep­a­rate net­work are see­ing light at the end of the tun­nel de­spite a mount­ing ar­ray of chal­lenges and lin­ger­ing con­cerns of de­lays.

For the Ja­pan-linked project, the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of a 700-kilo­me­ter rail­way link­ing Jakarta and the coun­try’s sec­ond-big­gest city, Surabaya, in East Java is slated to start in Jan­uary next year as the Trans­porta­tion Min­istry has se­lected the type of works and the train sys­tem.

Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Budi Karya said on Fri­day that he had opted to re­vi­tal­ize ex­ist­ing tracks rather than lay down new track to al­low an up­grade of the sys­tem to a semi high-speed rail­way, which would cut travel be­tween Jakarta and Surabaya by half of the usual 12-hour jour­ney.

“I have opted to use the ex­ist­ing tracks,” Budi said. “In Jan­uary [next year] we can start the work.”

The re­vi­tal­iza­tion will in­clude the clo­sure of an es­ti­mated 1,000 rail­way cross­ings along the rail­way track be­tween the two cities to help pre­vent the train from slow­ing down.

Budi also said the gov­ern­ment would se­lect diesel-pow­ered trains run­ning at a max­i­mum 160km per hour for their lower costs.

With the spec­i­fi­ca­tions, Budi es­ti­mated the project to cost less than Rp 80 tril­lion (US$6 bil­lion), with de­tails of the fi­nanc­ing scheme from Ja­pan’s loans to be fur­ther ex­plored. Of­fi­cials have es­ti­mated the cost to be even lower at around Rp 40 tril­lion.

Budi’s firm stance to se­lect the re­vi­tal­iza­tion over new tracks came af­ter a pre­lim­i­nary fea­si­bil­ity study on the project by the Agency for the As­sess­ment and Ap­pli­ca­tion of Tech­nol­ogy (BPPT), in co­op­er­a­tion with Ja­pan, sug­gested the use of new tracks.

The BPPT con­cluded that it was not pos­si­ble to use ex­ist­ing tracks to ef­fec­tively in­crease the speed of the train, although the cost to cre­ate new tracks would be much higher.

The Ja­panese Em­bassy’s deputy chief of mis­sion, Kozo Hon­sei, said the fea­si­bil­ity study was still on­go­ing be­tween Ja­pan and In­done­sia. “I don’t think there is any kind of de­ci­sion-mak­ing [on the de­sign yet] from my point of view.”

The rail­way is meant to be In­done­sia’s gift to pla­cate Ja­pan af­ter it ex­pressed dis­con­tent over los­ing out against China to build In­done­sia’s first high-speed train con­nect­ing Jakarta with West Java cap­i­tal Ban­dung, the coun­try’s fourth-largest city.

In a sep­a­rate de­vel­op­ment, the com­pany in charge of the Jakar­taBan­dung project, PT Kereta Cepat In­done­sia China (KCIC), said it would fi­nally be able to pro­pose the dis­burse­ment of a loan to fund the project with the re­cent is­suance of a lo­ca­tion per­mit from the Jakarta and West Java ad­min­is­tra­tions on July 31 and Sept. 7, con­sec­u­tively.

The lo­ca­tion per­mit for the es­ti­mated $5.9 bil­lion project is among the re­quire­ments for a loan dis­burse­ment from China De­vel­op­ment Bank (CDB), which will cover 75 per­cent of the project’s cost.

KCIC pres­i­dent di­rec­tor Hang­goro Budi Wiryawan said the lo­ca­tion per­mit would pro­vide le­gal cer­tainty for the project, in­clud­ing as­sur­ance that the land could not be sold to other par­ties.

“I hope the [loan dis­burse­ment pro­posal] will go on as planned, so we can catch up with the sched­uled com­ple­tion of the project,” Hang­goro said on Fri­day.

The rail­way is slated to op­er­ate in 2020.

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