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Nation assists Indonesian bullet train project

By LEONARDUS JEGHO in Jakarta | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-09-08 07:05
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Workers inspect a bridge built for the Jakarta-Bandung bullet train line in Purwakarta, West Java. ZU KANAN/XINHUA

New line to significantly cut traveling time between Jakarta and Bandung

Company director David So, who is based in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, is looking forward to the bullet train service connecting the city with Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java and the country's third-largest city. The line is scheduled to be completed next year.

"A dream is coming true. The capital will have a fast train service that will be very beneficial for families and for businesses," he said.

So's company, which sells electrical products, has customers in Bandung and elsewhere in West Java, and he has long dreamed of a bullet train route being introduced in Indonesia after traveling on such a service overseas.

The new line is the first project contracted overseas as part of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. Thailand will be the second country in the region to have a similar project.

The line, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, includes 22.5 kilometers of tunnels.

The bullet train service between Jakarta and Bandung will give company executives and their staff members plenty of time to inspect projects or hold meetings in either city before departing the same day.

The project was due to be completed in 2018, with services starting the following year, but issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in delays and disruption to the schedule.

With a top speed of 350 kilometers per hour, the bullet train will cover the 142-km journey between Jakarta and Bandung in about 40 minutes. The trip currently takes 3 hours 15 minutes.

The project is now due to start commercial operation by the end of next year after a three-month trial. Despite the pandemic, about 74 percent of the work had been completed as of June.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the project in January 2016, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said, "Speed in population mobility and in transporting goods is a crucial factor for us to compete with other countries."

He repeated this message when he inspected the project this year. "There will be time efficiency and speed. We hope this project will enable us to compete (with other countries)," the president said.

Widodo stressed that the new Jakarta-Bandung line is part of his massive flagship development program to build Indonesia's "competitiveness and civilization", with the aim of ensuring equal distribution of development nationwide.

The line is being built and will be operated by the joint venture company PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China. Abbreviated as KCIC, it is jointly owned by PT Pilar Sinergi BUMN Indonesia, a consortium of Indonesian state companies, and Beijing Yawan Co, a syndicate of Chinese railway companies.

China is the second-largest investor in Indonesia after Singapore.

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