Indonesia prepares for launch of Southeast Asia’s first China-backed high-speed railway


2nd October 2023 – (Jakarta) Indonesia is gearing up to unveil Southeast Asia’s inaugural high-speed railway on Monday, October 2nd. This long-awaited project, supported by China and valued in the billions, will significantly reduce travel time between the capital city, Jakarta, and the major city of Bandung.

The Chinese-manufactured bullet train, known as the “Whoosh,” is designed to transport over 600 passengers between Jakarta and Bandung in just 45 minutes. This high-speed rail system is part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, which aims to enhance connectivity and economic cooperation between countries.

President Joko Widodo has hailed the project for its ability to provide a swift and efficient transportation option between the two populous cities on Java Island. Local media reports confirm that President Widodo is set to inaugurate the railway on Monday, following his busy schedule on October 1st.

Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi informed reporters on Friday that the official launch of the railway would take place on October 2nd. With top speeds of 350 km/h, the train has been a joint venture between Chinese and Indonesian entities, costing over US$7 billion to construct.

The project was undertaken by PT KCIC, a consortium consisting of four Indonesian state companies and China Railway International. Originally estimated to cost less than US$5 billion and be completed by 2019, delays caused by construction challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic led to increased costs.

In anticipation of the railway’s opening, authorities have conducted public trials on the 142 km high-speed route to ensure its safety and efficiency.

During his recent visit to Jakarta for a series of summits with Southeast Asian leaders, Chinese Premier Li Qiang joined senior Indonesian minister Luhut Pandjaitan for a ride on the train. Pandjaitan revealed that President Widodo intends to invite Chinese President Xi Jinping to experience the high-speed rail system in the future, although further details were not disclosed.