Indonesia asks Japan to build its new Jakarta-Surabaya railway

Indonesia has offered Japan a role in building a $3bn railway connecting Jakarta to Surabaya, around 786km away on the eastern end of the long island of Java.

It should soothe relations with Japan, which last year lost a bitter contest with China to build Indonesia’s first high-speed railway, from Jakarta to Bandung.

In an unusual move, Indonesia rejected competitive tendering for the new project and instead made the offer by letter, delivered in person by government minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan during his visit to Tokyo on Friday 7 October, reports The Jakarta Post.

"Personally, I am sure Japanese technology is suitable for this project," the minister said in a statement released on the day.

The medium-speed, double-track railway will upgrade an existing track, and have trains running at up to 200km/h to shorten the travel time between Jakarta and Surabaya to 3.5 hours from 11 hours, according to Luhut, who is Indonesia’s Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister

The government said the railway would speed up the transfer of freight between Jakarta, Semarang and Surabaya.

Should Tokyo accept the offer, Luhut said he hoped that Japan would implement technology transfers with Indonesia and comply with the country’s regulations on using Indonesian-made products.

Japan appears interested in the project. Yesterday Jakarta Post reported that the two governments will conduct a joint survey for the scheme.

Minister Luhut said it was expected that the railway would require an investment of $2.5bn-$3bn.

The survey is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017, or the second quarter at the latest, the minister said.

Image: The Suramadu Bridge, Indonesia’s longest, at Surabaya (Sakurai Midori/Wikimedia Commons)

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