Indonesia Anonymus

We are a group of Indonesians, ranting about our beloved country. This blog is a result of many people grumbling about many things in many ways.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Train of Thought

In Indonesia Japan Expo 2008, the Japanese showed off their super-fast train technology. Known as shinkansen, it is fast (can go up to 300 km per hour), convenient, and - of course being Japanese - almost always on time.

And apparently we can't wait to have one. It is said that PT Industri Kereta Api (INKA) is planning to produce our own shinkansen by 2016 [1]. Japan Transportation Consultant has done a preleminary study and expect Indonesia to have the train in 2020 [2].

Now maybe a good time to wake up and smell the coffee (or the locomotive fume), because there is something wrong with this picture.

Let's see what kind of railway service that we have today:

PT Kereta Api, our state-owned railway company, serves routes in Java, South Sumatera, West Sumatra and North Sumatra.

That's it. (That's according to their website [3], at least).

Meaning Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and the rest are pretty much train-less.

And yet we want shinkansen, like the one Japan has.

Well, Japan also has a massive railway network, covering the whole country. Why don't we copy that? You can literally go by train from Hokkaido (that's up north) to Kyushu (down south) [4].

Is it all served by Shinkansen? Of course not: some routes in rural Japan have so few passengers that it is only served by what is called 'one-man-train'. It's literally just one train-car, operated by one man, who would also stand by the door when the train stops to check your ticket because the stations it serves along the way are not even manned.
There is not enough passengers to make fast train profitable.

But at least the area is covered by train.

Before we even think of having shinkansen, shouldn't we focus on this first? Indonesia is not just Java. Building a railway is like opening up new blood vessels for the country. Train allows goods to be transported easier, faster and a lot cheaper. We always talk about how the eastern part of Indonesia is left behind economy-wise. This is one reason why. How can you do business and prosper when getting around is so difficult and expensive?

Build the network first and serve it well (meaning safe, clean and reliable). After that we can talk about speed.

Speaking of serving it well, here's a thought: if we have a shinkansen and it is operated by the same competence that we have right now in running our train, we're probably better off without one.
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Source:

[1] Kompas - Kapan Indonesia Punya Shinkansen?
[2] Kompas - Jepang Mulai Kaji KA Super Cepat Di Indonesia
[3] PT Kereta Api - Peta Perjalanan Kereta Api
[4] Japan Railways Group - timetable and fares

9 Comments:

Blogger treespotter said...

you heard that now the DKI jakarta gov't have budgets to dismantle the never yet started Monorail?

meh

9:08 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

Actually tree, no we didn't.
Really?

What we heard last was that they couldn't get funding. And that was a while back when money was still cheap.

These days there is probably higher probability to get hit by lightning than getting funding...

Maybe that's why they want to dismantle it now...

10:50 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

I am looking to visit Java bulan juni. I am living in California. I appreciate articles well written in English, as my bahasa Indonesia learning is in its infancy.

Terima kasih. I will visit this blog again.

6:46 AM  
Blogger pj said...

It would be nice if they had a better train service here. It can be a great way to see the country with none of the harrowing switchbacks that bus riders have to endure. Unfortunately the last time I took the train it was a big hassle from getting tickets to getting to the station, finding the right train etc...That narrow gauge track does't help either.

With its large population. Java should be an ideal place for train service. Seems that investment these days is mostly shopping malls and toll roads.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Alvin said...

Just hope that the corruption won't be a problem for the new train.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Berita dari gunung said...

Interesting blog.

I suppose most governments try their best to do whats best for the country and for their survival or being politically relevant.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Akhyari said...

It is an old post, and it is very late for me to give comments. I think, we need to focus on PEOPLE to be transported, and most people are in Java. Also, we need to plan how to sustain the operation. Yes, market-driven business. let's do all things, one at a time

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Bebas Berpendapat said...

Indonesia and Japan are different.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous bud said...

we need more train for every islands with professional management to run it so no more train accident ever happen again!!

11:36 PM  

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