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Indonesia drops high-speed train plan, chooses slower option

September 4, 2015

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia has dropped its plan to build a high-speed train line and is shifting instead to more economical medium-speed technology, a Cabinet minister said Friday.

Coordinating Minister of Economy Darmin Nasution said high-speed service is not suitable for the relatively short distance of 150 kilometers (93 miles) between Jakarta and Bandung, West Java’s provincial capital.

“The president’s decision is that we don’t need a high-speed railway. A medium speed of 200 to 250 kilometers per hour is enough,” Nasution said.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who took office last October, has ambitious plans for improving Indonesia’s infrastructure which he says will boost manufacturing and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Nasution said a medium-speed rail system would take only 11 minutes more than a high-speed system to make the trip, while its construction cost would be about 40 percent cheaper.

China and Japan had been competing to construct the high-speed rail system, each offering low-interest loans and other perks in an attempt to secure a multibillion-dollar contract.

Nasution said a team will create a set of conditions for construction of the medium-speed line before it is opened to international bidding.

“We will offer it again to Japan and China, and other countries that have the capability to build a medium-speed rail system also have a possibility,” he said.

State Enterprise Minister Rini Soemarno said a consortium made up of four state-owned companies — PT Wijaya Karya, PT Jasa Marga, PT Kereta Api Indonesia, and PT Perkebunan Nusantara VIII — has been set up to conduct a further feasibility study for the project.

The Jakarta-Bandung line is part of a planned 750-kilometer (466-mile) train project that would cut across four provinces on Java and end in the country’s second largest city of Surabaya. It was not immediately clear whether speed would also be reduced for the other stretches of the project.

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