JAKARTA: Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Friday that only Indonesian and Japanese companies will participate in the tender to build a 725-kilometre railway line between Jakarta and Surabaya.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (second right) and Toshihiro Nikai (third left), secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, talk at the Bogor Presidential Palace in Bogor on Friday. (Kyodo photo)
Public Infrastructure and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono subsequently confirmed that message when asked about the possible involvement of other countries in the tender process.
Basuki told reporters that a “political decision” had been made that no other countries would be involved in the tender to issue contracts for the rail project.
Japan lost out to China in 2015 in bidding to construct a high-speed railway between Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, and the West Java provincial capital Bandung.
News of the restricted tender process emerged when the Indonesian transport minister briefed reporters on talks between Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Japanese lawmaker, who visited Indonesia as special envoy to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the presidential palace in Bogor.
Budi also said it was likely the new rail line would use narrow-gauge track, which would slash costs but result in slower service.
“We’ll most probably use narrow gauge and a detailed study on it will be done,” Budi said, referring to a track width of less than 1,435 millimetres.
On narrow-gauge track, trains would operate at 140 to 160 kilometres per hour, and take about 5.5 hours to travel between Jakarta and Surabaya, the nation’s second-largest city located on the northern coast of eastern Java.
Earlier, Indonesia and Japan considered using standard 1,435-mm gauge for the rail line so trains could travel at up to 200 km/h, thus taking about 3.5 hours from Jakarta to Surabaya. The cost, however, would be higher than for narrow gauge.
Most countries use standard gauge that allows interconnectivity and interoperability (the ability to function with other systems or components). Only a few countries, including areas of Australia, Indonesia and some parts of Japan, use narrow gauge.
The cost difference between the two options is about 30 trillion rupiah (about $2.2 billion), according to Budi. With narrow gauge, the initial cost of the project was estimated at 60 trillion rupiah.
A project cost proposal will be determined through feasibility studies conducted by Indonesia’s Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology, or BPPT, with input from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, as well as experts from South Korea and Germany.
BPPT has predicted that 12.43% of airline passengers between the two cities, which totalled around 8.04 million last year, will shift to the trains.
Some decisions regarding the project may be made by March, followed by the tender process.
Nikai, secretary general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has been in Jakarta since Thursday to attend a ceremony to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Japan and Indonesia on Saturday.