Indonesia reveals plan to integrate Japanese and Chinese rail projects

The government of Indonesia is considering inviting Japanese companies to integrate the medium-speed rail link they are building between Jakarta and Surabaya with a $6bn Chinese scheme to build a high-speed rail link between Jakarta and Bandung

China and Japan were rivals in bidding for the high-speed contract, which China eventually won.

The announcement was made during an online press conference held by Airlangga Hartarto, an economic affairs minister, after a cabinet meeting with President Joko Widodo on Friday.

He said: "To be more economically viable, according to the president, the Jakarta-Bandung railway project should not only end in Bandung, but continue to Surabaya."

Reporters asked whether that meant the Jakarta-Surabaya project would be scrapped, to which the minister replied: "It will be integrated into the Jakarta-Bandung railway project."

Hartarto added that Widodo also proposed inviting a consortium of Japanese investors to join the Indonesia-China consortium constructing the Bandung link.

The idea is part of a wider strategic review of 89 infrastructure projects, worth about $100bn, planned over the next four years, which is being carried out in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

China won the 142km Bandung link in 2015 after a fierce competition with Japan.

This line was already facing a one-year delay as a result of the coronavirus. Around 300 Chinese staff went home for the Lunar New Year in February, and could not return after Indonesia banned flights to and from China. Among those cut off from the project were Chinese project directors, managers, engineers and consultants.

Indonesia and Japan reached a deal on the Jakarta-Surabaya railway project in September last year after two years’ of negotiations. The line is expected to enter service in 2025.

​Image: Indonesia will use Chinese high-speed rail technology for its $6bn Jakarta-Bandung line (Raki_Man/CC BY 3.0)

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