Government wants Japan to join China-backed high-speed rail project

The government is considering including Japan in Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), an Indonesia-China consortium to develop the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, as Indonesia seeks to expedite and expand the national strategic project, a senior minister has said.

Japan, which was outbid by China for the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project, is currently working with the Indonesian government to develop a medium-speed line to connect Jakarta and Surabaya, East Java.

Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto said that the consideration came from a request by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as the government reviewed the prolonged delays and budget overruns in the development of the Jakarta-Bandung railway.

“Because of that – to be more economical – President Jokowi has instructed that the project not stop at Bandung but be extended to Surabaya. Also, he asked to add Japan to the consortium,” said Airlangga on Friday in an online press briefing after a limited Cabinet meeting.

Policymakers believe the inclusion of Japan would accelerate the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project, while also helping the consortium extend the project to reach Surabaya via the Southern Java line.

Airlangga said that the idea to include Japan in the consortium would first be reviewed by the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ministry.

The construction of the high-speed railway has faltered because of various technical and financial challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

KCIC initially aimed to finish the project and begin operation by June 2021, a two-year delay from its original target. With the current health crisis, the project’s completion is expected to be further delayed to the second half of 2021.

The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project is one of the government’s national strategic projects (PSN) in the transportation sector and is expected to require a total investment of US$6.07 billion.

The railway project will serve four main stations: Halim in Jakarta, Karawang in West Java and Walini and Tegaluar in Bandung regency. The trains will travel at 350 kilometers per hour, cutting the travel time between Jakarta and Bandung to 45 minutes from the current three-hour train journey.

In September of last year, the Transportation Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement on the summary record of the Java North Line Upgrading Project, outlining the two countries’ collaboration to develop the Jakarta-Surabaya railway.

Source : The Jakarta Post