Indonesia is launching Southeast Asia’s first high-speed rail service next year, with trains set to race up to 350km per hour.
The railway line will connect Indonesia's capital Jakarta with Bandung, the busy capital of West Java province from June 2023. Journey times between the two cities will be cut from three hours to about 40 minutes.
The bullet train is largely funded under China’s Belt and Road (BRI) infrastructure initiative; an ambitious plan by the superpower to develop new trade routes with the rest of the world.
Speaking as the Jakarta-Bandung portion of the rail project nears 90 per cent completion today, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he hopes “the mobility of goods and people can be faster and improved, and our competitiveness will also be stronger.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping may visit to ride the Chinese-made bullet train after the G20 summit in Bali next month, though Widodo told reporters the plan “is still not final yet.”
What do we know about the Jakarta-Bandung line?
Indonesia’s new Jakarta-Bandung line has been a long time coming. Rail construction began in 2016 and it was originally expected to start running in 2029, but was delayed by four years over land and environmental disputes.
The 142.3 kilometre railway worth $7.8 billion (€8 billion) is being constructed by PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China (PT KCIC) a joint venture between an Indonesian consortium of four state-owned companies and China Railway International.
The trains will be the fastest in Southeast Asia, according to China’s CRRC Qingdao Sifang railway company, which designed and built the train cars. It says the vehicles will rattle along at 350 kilometres (217 miles) per hour and pass curves with a minimum radius of 150 metres (492 feet).
They will also be equipped with electric motors, each with a power of 625,000 watts.
Onboard, customers will be divided into three classes: VIP, first and second, and several cars with large spaces between seats will be allocated for passengers with limited mobility.
The manufacturer said the trains are specifically modified to adapt to Indonesia's tropical climate, and are equipped with an improved security system that has the ability to track earthquakes, floods and other emergency conditions.
What other new Indonesian rail lines are in the works?
The project is part of a 750-kilometre high-speed train plant that will cut across four provinces on the main island of Java and end in the country’s second-largest city of Surabaya.
Infrastructure improvement, Widodo’s signature policy, helped him win a second term in 2019 elections.
Jakarta’s subway - a Japan-backed venture - was launched in 2019 as part of the capital’s efforts to ease traffic congestion.
Its second phase will soon be completed and the United Kingdom and Japan have offered the country soft loans for its third phase, said transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi.
The government has completed other rail projects, including light-rail transit (LRT) services in Palembang and Jakarta.
Indonesia’s popular tourist island of Bali is among five other cities which also have LRT plans in the pipeline.