(CTN NEWS) – In a momentous milestone for Southeast Asia’s infrastructure landscape, Indonesia has inaugurated its first-ever high-speed bullet train, connecting two of its most prominent cities.
The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, fondly named WHOOSH (Time Saving, Optimal Operation, Reliable System), is a groundbreaking project that has finally come to fruition after numerous delays and setbacks.
With an investment of $7.3 billion and substantial funding from Chinese state-owned firms as part of the Belt and Road initiative, this ambitious venture promises to revolutionize transportation in the region.
Originally slated for launch on October 1st, the grand inauguration ceremony took place at Jakarta’s Halim railway station. The event witnessed the presence of President Joko Widodo, First Lady Iriana, and several cabinet ministers.
President Widodo proudly declared, “The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train is the first of its kind in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, boasting a remarkable speed of 350 kilometers per hour.”
He then symbolically signaled the commencement of official service by sounding a red alarm.
Connecting Two Prominent Cities
The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway spans 86 miles (138 kilometers), connecting the Halim railway station in East Jakarta to West Bandung’s Padalarang railway station in West Java.
West Bandung is not only Indonesia’s second-largest city but also a significant center for arts and culture.
This high-speed rail system operates on electricity, emitting zero direct carbon emissions, and achieves speeds of approximately 217 miles per hour, significantly reducing travel time between Jakarta and Bandung from three hours to less than one.
Safety and Integration
PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (PT KCIC), a joint state venture, has overseen the project and ensured seamless integration with local public transport systems.
The trains, adapted for Indonesia’s tropical climate, come equipped with safety systems capable of responding to earthquakes, floods, and other emergency conditions.
Furthermore, there are discussions about extending the high-speed rail line to Surabaya, a major port and the capital of East Java Province.
PT KCIC director Dwiyana Slamet Riyadi revealed plans for future stops at other prominent cities like Semarang and Yogyakarta, the gateway to Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple.
Comfort and Convenience
The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway comprises eight cars, all furnished with Wi-Fi and USB charging points, accommodating up to 601 passengers. The train offers three classes of seats: first, second, and VIP.
Bilateral Cooperation and Investment
Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest country and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, has been actively seeking investment from China, its largest trade and investment partner.
A high-profile meeting in July between Indonesian and Chinese leaders unveiled a range of projects, including a multi-billion dollar Chinese glass factory on Rempang Island in Indonesia’s Riau Islands Archipelago, part of an ambitious ‘Eco-City’ plan.
This sparked protests from indigenous islanders opposed to the displacement of their villages.
President Widodo and Chinese Premier Li Qiang garnered attention by taking test rides on the new high-speed railway throughout September.
The train deal was initially signed in 2015 as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, with construction commencing later that year.
Despite numerous hurdles, including pandemic-related disruptions, land procurement challenges, and cost escalations, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway has emerged as a testament to the fruitful cooperation between Indonesia and China.
PT KCIC’s director, Dwiyana Slamet Riyadi, hailed the project as an “outstanding example of bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and China.”
Not only will it enhance Indonesia’s infrastructure, but it will also stimulate the growth of the country’s railroad and manufacturing industries.
A Bright Future for Indonesia
The inauguration of Southeast Asia’s first bullet train marks a significant step forward for the region’s transportation infrastructure.
With the promise of reduced travel times, increased connectivity, and sustainable operations, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway is poised to bring about lasting positive changes for Indonesia and its people.
This monumental achievement is a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation, ushering in a new era of modern and efficient transportation for Southeast Asia.
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