Minister tasked with discussing high-speed train project

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has assigned State Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno with the responsibility of discussing the management of the high-speed train project, which will serve the Jakarta-Bandung route.

"I have assigned the State Enterprises Minister with following up on the continuation of the Jakarta-to-Bandung high-speed railway project," President Jokowi said in a written statement, made available to newsmen by the Head of the presidential communication team, Teten Masduki, on Friday.

In the written statement, the President said he had received recommendations for who should win the bid for the project from the projects assessment team on Thursday.

Based on the report and recommendations of the assessment team, President Jokowi then took a number of decisions.

"The first decision is that we will develop a medium-speed train," the President said, adding that the second decision was about the project not using funds from the state budget (APBN) either directly or indirectly.

Further, the head of state added that the government will not provide a guaranteed fund in any form, and that the cooperation model for the high-speed train project must be in the form of business to business.

The President also said the government is currently gearing up for the development of the Jakarta-Surabaya fast train and rail network outside Java.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution, had remarked on Thursday that the recommendations for implementing a high-speed train project in Indonesia had been submitted to President Jokowi, but the head of state was of the view that the project was less feasible.

Considered similar to the Shinkansen bullet trains operating in Japan at speeds of 300 kilometers (km) per hour, the high-speed train network will serve the Jakarta-Bandung route, but President Jokowi believes that a medium-speed train link for the same route would be a more viable option.

Nasution stated that the President had approved the recommendations for the high-speed train project, which Japanese and Chinese investors are stiffly competing to develop, though emphasizing that a medium-speed train operating at 200 to 250 km per hour was considered more suitable as the cost was about 30 to 40 percent lower.(*)