On The Right Track
    Category: Big Build By : Charlie Binder and Sonya Anggraini Read : 1874 Date : Sunday, April 06, 2014 - 12:12:20

    Courtesy of Reuters

    Indonesia is improving its transportation system by constructing new roads and railways, although most of the projects remain in Java. For railways, the government is constructing a second parallel track to connect Indonesia’s two largest cities, Jakarta and Surabaya. The so-called double track program started in 2011. As the name “double track” suggests, the construction entails simply adding a parallel track to the existing line therefore allowing trains to simultaneously travel in both directions. “The double track program is part of our infrastructure development acceleration and now the northern part of the project is 80% operational,” says Hermanto Dwiatmoko, the director general of railway affairs at the Transportation Ministry.

    The northern Java corridor line will start full operation this month, according to the Transportation Ministry. The project represents a total investment of Rp 10 trillion—representing the most significant upgrade of one of the country’s main rail links in over a century. It is forecast that the 727 km line between Jakarta and Surabaya will be able to accommodate 200 trains per day, up from 84 now. For freight traffic, the volume is forecast to rise to 6,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) per week from 3,500 TEUs today (TEUs are a standard measure of container volume).

    Meanwhile, the southern Java corridor line is targeted to be fully operational in 2017. Out of the 840 km of railways in the southern part of Java, the government plans to build 441 km of double track. The Rp 10 trillion investment will be financed through the state budget and loans from overseas investors, including the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Hermanto explains. Currently, the government is building a 74 km track connecting Cirebon and Prupuk. The construction total is expected to finish by the end of this year.

    The double track service will help alleviate pressures on the existing Pantura road infrastructure, which is liable to heavy flooding and extended gridlock as broken-down trucks obstruct traffic. Trucks on this road are typically only able to cover an average of 100 km per day across Central Java. Sugeng Priyono, vice president of public relations at railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI), explains that KAI will also adjust its train schedule to ensure train traffic will reach its fullest capacity.

    For that, the transportation ministry is planning to reopen inactive railroads this year, including those that connect to ports. These include the 45 km track from Cianjur to Padalarang (West Java), the 33 km track from Surakarta to Wonogiri (Central Java), the 30 km track from Kedungjati to Tuntang (Central Java) and the nine km track from Jakarta Kota to Tanjung Priok. Hermanto says the challenge for reopening these tracks is that some have been covered over or are too close to residential areas. Last year, the government reactivated the 57 km track connecting Bogor and Sukabumi in a bid to reduce traffic. It also revived the railroad connecting Cianjur and Sukabumi earlier this year.