In a bid to curtail substantial economic losses attributed to relentless traffic congestion in Jakarta and Bandung, Indonesia is preparing to inaugurate its inaugural high-speed rail (HSR) connecting the capital city to Bandung, the fourth most populous urban center in the country. Anticipated to commence operations in early October, the HSR is envisioned as a transformative initiative to encourage commuters to shift from private vehicles to efficient mass transit alternatives, including high-speed rail, MRT, and LRT.
President Joko Widodo, aboard the high-speed rail, emphasized the necessity of reducing traffic congestion and pollution by endorsing the use of mass transportation. He further highlighted the dire economic implications of persistent traffic snarls, amounting to over 100 trillion rupiah (S$8.9 billion) annually. The introduction of the high-speed rail is not only a strategic solution but also a significant testament to the government’s commitment to enhancing the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
Despite facing setbacks such as delays and cost overruns, the HSR project, a point of prestige for the Indonesian government, is on the cusp of realization. Scheduled for a series of commercial operations starting in October, the rail service will offer increased frequency, aiming to alleviate the burden of traffic congestion and significantly reduce travel times between Jakarta and Bandung. The HSR project, initially slated for operational readiness in 2019, encountered obstacles like land acquisition and construction delays exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The HSR route, stretching over 140 kilometers, links Jakarta to the provincial capital of West Java, Bandung, a vital tourism hub. With a remarkable travel time of just 28 minutes for the entire journey, the HSR is poised to transform travel dynamics within the region. As Indonesia moves towards its presidential elections in February, President Widodo’s focus on infrastructural achievements underscores his determination to leave a lasting legacy.
The inaugural trips of the high-speed rail represent a significant milestone, showcasing the immense progress achieved, with rigorous trials preceding the launch. The HSR promises a smooth and comfortable ride, operating at impressive speeds of up to 385km/h. Additionally, it provides a vital solution to the pressing issue of air pollution, particularly in Jakarta, rated as the world’s most polluted capital.
Originally contemplating Japan’s shinkansen bullet train technology, Indonesia ultimately pivoted to Beijing’s proposal in 2015, with the project carried forward through collaboration with Chinese state-owned enterprises. The initiative, a key component of China’s Belt and Road cross-border infrastructure program, has, however, surpassed the initial cost estimates, emphasizing the critical importance of sound financial management for such large-scale endeavors.
As Indonesia looks forward to the HSR’s operational commencement, the government remains optimistic that this transformative project will significantly reduce congestion, encourage environmental sustainability, and enhance the overall quality of life for citizens. The coming months will be crucial in gauging the true impact of this ambitious infrastructural endeavor on the nation’s transportation landscape.