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Indonesia Launches Southeast Asia's First Bullet Train

Indonesia launches Southeast Asia's first bullet train on Sunday marking a significant milestone by connecting two major cities in the country.

Daisy-Mae Schmitt
Oct 01, 202390 Shares29932 Views
Indonesia launches Southeast Asia's first bullet trainon Sunday marking a significant milestone by connecting two major cities in the country.
This high-speed rail project, part of China's ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure initiative and predominantly funded by Chinese state-owned firms, comes with a price tag of $7.3 billion.
After a series of delays and setbacks, the project finally opened to the public on Sunday, promising to revolutionize transportation in the region.

Connecting Jakarta And Bandung

The bullet train will link the capital city, Jakarta, with Bandung in West Java, which is Indonesia's second-largest city and a prominent hub for arts and culture.
Covering a distance of 86 miles (138 kilometers), the high-speed rail line is officially named "WHOOSH," an acronym for "time-saving, optimal operation, reliable system" in Indonesian.
This electrified rail system boasts a speed of approximately 217 miles per hour, dramatically reducing travel time between Jakarta and Bandung from three hours to under an hour, according to officials.
The joint state venture PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (PT KCIC) oversees this project, ensuring that it connects the Halim railway station in East Jakarta with the Padalarang railway station in West Bandung. Additionally, the high-speed rail system seamlessly integrates with local public transportation networks.

State-of-the-Art Trains

Indonesia has ambitious plans to expand this high-speed rail network further. There are discussions about extending the line to Surabaya, a significant port city and the capital of East Java Province.
Furthermore, PT KCIC Director Dwiyana Slamet Riyadi has mentioned plans to include stops at other major cities like Semarang and Yogyakarta, which serves as the gateway to Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple globally.
The high-speed trains have been specially modified to suit Indonesia's tropical climate. They come equipped with a safety system designed to respond effectively to earthquakes, floods, and other emergency conditions.
The railway comprises eight cars, all furnished with Wi-Fi and USB charging points, accommodating a total of 601 passengers. Travelers can choose from three classes of seats: first class, second class, and VIP.
Passengers sit at the Halim station in Jakarta.
Passengers sit at the Halim station in Jakarta.

Indonesia's Economic Ties With China

Indonesia, as the world's fourth-largest country and the largest economy in Southeast Asia, has actively sought investment from China, its most prominent trade and investment partner.
This cooperation extends beyond infrastructure projects, as demonstrated by a high-profile meeting between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in July.
While the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway is a testament to the collaboration between Indonesia and China, it faced several challenges and delays.
Originally signed in 2015 as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, construction began later that year.
However, it was initially expected to be completed in 2019. Delays were attributed to factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, land procurement issues, and escalating costs.
PT KCIC's director, Dwiyana Slamet Riyadi, praised the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway as an "outstanding example of bilateral cooperation."
Besides improving Indonesia's infrastructure, this project is expected to stimulate the development of the country's railroad and manufacturing sectors.
The reduced travel time between major cities will not only enhance connectivity but also contribute to economic growth.

A Glimpse Into China's Rail Ambitions

Indonesia's new high-speed rail project is just one example of China's expanding rail portfolio. China continues to invest in high-speed rail networks both domestically and internationally.
Another notable project is the 277-kilometer high-speed train line along the southeastern coast of China, connecting the cities of Zhangzhou, Xiamen, and Fuzhou in Fujian province.
This initiative demonstrates China's commitment to enhancing transportation infrastructure and connectivity.
Despite its potential benefits, some observers have raised concerns about the commercial viability of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway.
They argue that alternative modes of transportation already exist between these two cities, making the project's profitability uncertain.
The future success of the railway will depend on factors such as ticket pricing, passenger demand, and competition with existing transportation options.
As the project moves forward, unexpected challenges have emerged, highlighting the need for careful planning and consideration.
The recent discovery of a tombstone on the proposed route has raised questions about potential burial grounds and the project's environmental impact. This revelation could lead to further investigations and adjustments in the railway's route.

Final Words

The launch of Southeast Asia's first bullet train in Indonesia marks a significant achievement in the region's transportation infrastructure.
This high-speed rail system, funded by China and operated by PT KCIC, has the potential to transform travel between Jakarta and Bandung, with plans for future expansion.
However, the project also faces questions about its economic viability and unexpected challenges that must be addressed as it moves forward.
Indonesia's cooperation with China on this venture reflects the broader international influence of China's rail ambitions.
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