Hitachi Super Express

Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore won’t be the only ASEAN countries to have high-speed rail (HSR) projects – Indonesia is set to join the party with its first HSR line linking Jakarta and Bandung. The announcement was made late last week after Chinese and Indonesian state-owned companies signed a US$5.5 billion deal to build the line, AFP reports.

On Friday, the chairman of state-owned China Railway International, Yang Zhongmin, inked the deal with a consortium of Indonesian state companies. The project will see the formation of a joint venture to build the railway, construction of which will begin next year.

The line is expected to begin operating in 2019, the same year the 715 km-long Thai HSR line from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – which will be built by Japan – is scheduled to open. The Jakarta-Bandung HSR route will cover eight stations, with trains operating at speeds of around 250 km/h.

Around 75% of the funding for the project will come from state-owned China Development Bank, while the remainder will be provided by China Railway and the Indonesian consortium. The report adds that the Indonesian HSR line will not need any financing from the Indonesian government or a government guarantee.

hitachi bullet train

It was reported that the 160 km-long route was long expected to be built with Japan’s help, but China entered the contest earlier this year and last month, Tokyo’s bid was rejected following a chaotic bidding process that infuriated the Japanese. The final decision reportedly angered Tokyo, with chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga slamming the move as “extremely regrettable.”

A reason given by Indonesian officials gave for the rejection of the Japanese bid was that it would require government funding. It was also said that the Indonesian government repeatedly changed its mind about the railway project, but eventually agreed to accept China’s bid for the project.

China is also competing with Japan for the building of the proposed KL-Singapore HSR project, which has not officially been detailed yet aside from the mention of the parties interested in developing the line – Japan, France and China have stated their intent. South Korea has also joined the list, having recently signalled its intent to bid for the project.

The 330 km-long line is set to bring down the travel time between KL and Singapore to 90 minutes, with trains on the service projected to run at average speeds of 350 to 450 km/h. Projected ticket prices are expected to cost under RM400 for a return-trip ticket.