Indonesia’s first high-speed railway opened two years late

Two years later than originally announced, Indonesia’s first high-speed railway, a project supported by China under the One Belt, One Road Initiative, has opened.

Indonesia's first high-speed railwayIndonesian President Joko Widodo launched the 142.3km-long rail service linking the capital Jakarta to Bandung, a major economic centre. The railway is called “Whoosh”, an acronym for “Waktu Hemat, Operasi Optimal, Handal System” in local language or “Timesaving, Optimal Operation, Reliable System”. The Indonesian head of state has prioritised projects such as Whoosh to eliminate acute roadblocks in the country.

The cost of the project, carried out by the Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China (KCIC) joint venture, amounts to USD 7.3 billion and was supported by China under the One Belt, One Road Initiative.

The railway was originally scheduled to open in 2021, but was delayed due to land disputes, the Covid-19 pandemic and a USD 1.2 billion budget overrun. The inauguration, which had been scheduled to take place last Monday, was postponed until Sunday to accommodate President Jokowi’s schedule.

Trains run at up to 350km/h on Indonesia’s first high-speed railway

The Whoosh service is operated by PT KCIC, a joint venture of four Indonesian state-owned companies and Beijing-based China Railway International. Trains can reach speeds of up to 350 km/hour. Indonesian officials expect the high-speed railway to improve economic productivity.

Bandung, the capital of West Java province, is Indonesia’s version of Silicon Valley. There are talks to expand Woosh to Surabaya, a major port city and the capital of East Java province.

The Indonesia project is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decade-long One Belt, One Road initiative, an ambitious plan to connect Asia with Africa and Europe through a series of land and sea networks by investing in local infrastructure. Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, has actively sought investment from China, its biggest trading partner.

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