Rail transport in Indonesia

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Gambir Station Platform 2.jpg
An inter-city and a commuter train at Gambir railway station.
National railway Kereta Api Indonesia
Ridership 268.4 million (2015, as of October)[1]
Freight 26.5 million tonnes (2015, as of October)[2]
System length
Total 5,042 kilometres (3,133 mi) [3]
Electrified 411 kilometres (255 mi)
Track gauge
Main 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) (km?)
Main 1.5 kV DC overhead line

The majority of Indonesia's railways are on Java, used for both passenger and freight transport. There are three noncontinuous railway networks in Sumatra (Aceh and North Sumatra; West Sumatra; South Sumatra and Lampung) with two new networks is being developed in Kalimantan and Sulawesi.[4][5] Indonesia has finalized its plan for a national railway network recently. According to the plan, 3,200 km of train tracks that will criss-cross the islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi, it has been touted as the most extensive railway project in Indonesia since its independence from the Dutch in 1945.[6]

Urban railway exist in form of commuter rail in Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya. New mass rapid transit and light rail transit system are currently under construction in Jakarta and Palembang.

Indonesia's rail gauge is 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in), although 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) and 750 mm (2 ft 5 12 in) lines previously existed. Newer constructions in Aceh, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi are using the 1,435 mm gauge. Most of the Jakarta metropolitan area is electrified at 1500 V DC overhead.

Indonesia's railways are operated by the state-owned PT Kereta Api, its commuter subsidiary, the Kereta Commuter Indonesia, and the airport rail link subsidiary, the Railink. The infrastructure is state-owned, and companies[further explanation needed] pay a fee for using the railways.

Various narrow gauge industrial tramways operate in Java and Sumatra, serving the sugarcane and oil palm industries.


Locomotive and train of the Dutch Indies Railway Company (Nederlands-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij), Java, c. 1900s.

The first railway line in Indonesia opened in 1867. The railways were gradually expanded by both the state and private companies.

The Japanese occupation and the Indonesian War of Independence left Indonesia's railways in a poor condition. A batch of 100 steam locomotives were ordered in 1950, and dieselisation started in 1953. By the 1980s most mainline services had been dieselised. Electric multiple units were obtained from Japan beginning in the 1970s, replacing 60-year-old electric locomotives.

Since the independence era, all mainline railways in Indonesia have been managed by the state. The owners of the private railway were compensated first, but the system was fully nationalised in 1971.

Construction of new railway lines has been scarce, and most new construction is concentrated on double- and quad-tracking of existing railway lines. Most of the former tramway lines have been closed, reducing the mileage from about 7000 km to only 3000 km.

Rolling stock[edit]

Preserved locomotives[edit]

Indonesia had various types of locomotives, being the legacy of the many different companies. Surprisingly, only three steam locomotives remain in operable condition, all located in the Ambarawa Railway Museum. On the other hand, static steam locomotive displays are located in the Transportation Museum (under the auspices of the Department of Transportation) in Jakarta's Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park) and Ambarawa Railway Museum (managed by PT Kereta Api) in Central Java. Plinthed locomotives can also be found in most cities and towns. Somewhat surprisingly, few non-locomotive rolling stock were preserved.

With the Asian economic crisis of 1997, remaining hulks of steam locomotives formerly standing in former depots became valuable for their scrap value, and by 2000, most locomotives not already plinthed or sent to museums were scrapped, presumably illegally.

Four operatable industrial steam locomotives are present, with two more preserved, at the Cepu Forest Railway. This currently represents the largest concentration of active preserved steam locomotives in Indonesia.

Several "last" steam locomotives were built for Indonesia. E1060, a 1966-built rack steam locomotive (Esslingen 5316) is operable in Ambarawa railway museum. BB84, the last Mallet locomotive built for a non-tourist railway (according to Durrant) was built by Nippon Sharyo Keizo Kaisha in 1962 (works number 2007). This locomotive was plinthed in Banda Aceh and survived the December 2004 tsunami. The locomotive is in rather poor condition with its valve gear and cylinder pistons missing (as of March 2006).

Steam locomotive 1622 "Sri Gunung" (Mountain Queen), a 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) mallet built in 1928, preserved in the Dutch Railway Museum.

The Trangkil No. 4 (Hunslet 3902) was built in 1971, being the last steam locomotive built at Hunslet's Jack Lane Works in Leeds, England. The locomotive was used on the Trangkil sugar mill estate on Java. It has been repatriated to the UK in 2004.[7]

Diesel locomotives[edit]

As of 2016, PT Kereta Api operates about 350 units of diesel locomotives divided into classes in Java and Sumatera[8] used both for passenger and freight services. The first diesel locomotive owned by PT Kereta Api was CC200 class, built by General Electric in 1953.[9]

Electric trains[edit]

As of August 2017, PT Kereta Api's commuter subsidiary, Kereta Commuter Indonesia, operates 758 units of electric multiple units (EMU) in Greater Jakarta area.[10] Most EMUs operated in Jakarta are secondhand trains acquired from major urban railway operators in Greater Tokyo in Japan, such as East Japan Railway Company and Tokyo Metro.


Railways on Java[edit]

Map of Java's transportation network

The first railways in Indonesia were built on the island of Java, using 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) gauge. During the Japanese occupation, they were converted to 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge. At its greatest extent, the Javanese network had a length of 4,807 kilometres (2,987 mi), connecting most parts of the island.[11] The Javanese network is divided into nine operating divisions.

Railways on Sumatra[edit]

Medan railway station, serving intercity trains as well as Railink airport train service to Kuala Namu Airport

In Sumatra as of 2013, there are 1,869 kilometres of track, of which 1,348 km are operational.[12] Several unconnected railway networks were built in the time of the Dutch East Indies:

Plans to connect up and fix these isolated lines are included in the Trans-Sumatra Railway plan. Railway services in Sumatra by operational is divided into three regional divisions, which are:

Regional Division 1
(North Sumatra and Aceh)
Regional Division 2
(West Sumatra)
Regional Division 3
(Palembang (South Sumatra))
Regional Division 4
(Tanjungkarang (Lampung) and partly South Sumatra)
  • Medan - Tebing Tinggi
  • Araskabu - Kuala Namu
  • Tebing Tinggi - Kisaran
  • Kisaran - Rantau Prapat
  • Kisaran - Tanjung Balai
  • Tebing Tinggi - Siantar
  • Medan - Belawan
  • Medan - Binjai
  • Krueng Mane - Krueng Geukueh (Aceh Line)
  • Teluk Bayur - Sawahlunto (156.5 km)
  • Muara Kalaban - Padang Sibusuk (6.2 km)
  • Bukit Putus - Indarung (14.5 km)
  • Lubuk Alung - Pariaman (21.5 km)
  • Pariaman - Sungai Limau (15 km)
  • Padang Panjang - Payakumbuh (52.1 km)
  • Payakumbuh - Limbanang (20.2 km)
  • Padang Sibusuk - Muaro Sijunjung (19.9 km)
  • Padang - Pulau Air (5.5 km)
  • Duku - Minangkabau International Airport
  • Kertapati - Prabumulih
  • Simpang - Indralaya
  • Prabumulih - Lubuk Linggau
  • Tarahan - Prabumulih

Railways on Kalimantan[edit]

In 2010, Kalimantan is to get a 122 km long 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge railway for the transport of coal between the Maura Wahau mine and the port of Bengalon.[14]


Passenger services[edit]

Argo Bromo Anggrek, a long distance passenger train serves Jakarta to Surabaya route

Other than in West Sumatra, where only weekly tourist trains operate, PT Kereta Api Indonesia(Persero) provides extensive passenger services. Various classes are available, from "'Argo'" class with reclining seats and plane like facilities, executive class air conditioned, reclining seat coaches comparable to the better classes of other country's railways, through business class coaches previously are non-air conditioned, but in the recent years it has been equipped with air conditioner, having reclining seats, to the hard bench, but still air conditioned economy class coaches for the cheaper trains. In last couple of years, the business and economic class are in the process of being equipped with air conditioned system. The whole process is completed in early 2013.

Sleeper trains no longer exist in Indonesia. The last all-sleeper train service was Bima express train which ran between 1967-1984. It was changed to mostly coach, leaving only one or two sleeping coaches train. It ran in this configuration until 1995, when the sleeper cars were withdrawn and modified into seating coach.

Argo Bromo Anggrek Executive coach.

In Java, most trains connect Jakarta and the hinterland. Regional (or "cross-country" services) have not developed fully. Between pairs of important cities such as Jakarta and Bandung, intensive hourly services are provided.

Most passenger trains in Indonesia, except commuter locals, were named. The names varied from plainly descriptive such as Depok Ekspres (a fast service between Jakarta and Depok), through Logawa (name of a river near Purwokerto, which is served by the train), Argo Lawu (Mt. Lawu, an extinct volcano near Solo, which is served by the said express train), to more or less meaningless, though romantic, names such as Bangunkarta (abbreviation of names of cities it serves: Jombang-Madiun-Jakarta) and Matarmaja (Malang-Blitar-Madiun-Jakarta).

Gumarang Business coach.

Railway passenger services experienced a renaissance in the 1995-1999 period, with the introduction of many new passenger expresses. With the advent of cheap airplane tickets, PT Kereta Api has experienced a downturn in the number of passengers carried, though the number has stabilized and most trains remain at more than 50% occupancy rate.

Argo Network[edit]

Ka argo.svg

Note: K.A. Argo Gede no longer exists (and also K.A. Parahyangan). As a replacement, K.A. Argo Parahyangan trains operate the same routing as a merge of K.A. Argo Gede and K.A. Parahyangan.

Women only carriages[edit]

As response to many reports of sexual harassments in public places, including commuter trains and buses, PT Kereta Api has launched women-only carriages in some commuter trains in Jakarta metropolitan area in August 2010.[15] On May 13, 2013 PT KAI changed women trains to regular trains which at the front and end of the train has a women coach each.[16]

Freight services[edit]

A CC 201-47 Locomotive hauling freight car.

The railway system in Java is more or less a passenger-oriented system, and there are few freight services, due to the limited capacity of the tracks. Some notable freight service in Java include the Kalimas container train and the Parcel train between Jakarta and Surabaya, petroleum trains between refineries or oil pipe terminals and oil depots, and quartz sand trains in Central Java.

But in recent years, there has been many efforts to beef up freight traffic in Java by introducing the GE CC206 locomotives, as well as building double track lines that connect Jakarta and Surabaya on North Coast line to increase the number of container trains between both cities. Many container ports have also been built on intermediate cities and towns. This effort already attract some customers who normally shipped their products via roads.

The system in South Sumatra is rather freight-oriented. Coal unit trains, carrying coal for an electricity plant are given priority over passenger trains. In West Sumatra, the remaining railway line serves the cement plant at Indarung, near Padang, and in North Sumatra, several oil palm and rubber plantations are served by freight trains.

Urban rail and rail-based rapid transit[edit]

Greater Jakarta[edit]

A Commuter Line electric train takes curve on the elevated railway near Mangga Dua, Jakarta

KRL Jabodetabek is the only operational urban rail network in Indonesia. Two MRT networks, some LRT networks, and an airport rail link are being developed to support the public transport network in Greater Jakarta.

Greater Surabaya[edit]

Regional rail functions as commuter rail in Surabaya, so technically there is no urban rail network. However, there are plans for a mass rapid transit network in and around Surabaya.[17] A 32 km diesel line from Mojokerto to Sidoarjo has been put into service, with 6 daily return trips.[citation needed]


Palembang Light Rail Transit is currently under construction and is expected to operate in June 2018, before the 2018 Asian Games.[18]

High-speed rail[edit]

CRH2 and CRH3 models, proposed by China.

In recent decades, Javan transportation backbones — north coast road and railway system that serves Jakarta-Surabaya corridor, has suffered greatly from both freight and passenger congestion.[19] The plan to build a high-speed railway system in Java has been around for many years. However, it was not until 2008 that the idea had been contemplated seriously. It was Japan International Cooperation Agency's proposal that initiated the idea to build high-speed rail for the Indonesian island of Java, linking up the densely populated corridor from the capital Jakarta to Surabaya city (covering 730 km) in East Java.[20][21] Japan is eager to export their Shinkansen high-speed rail technology abroad. Following up JICA's initial study in 2012, the detailed feasibility study was concluded in 2014. In recent years, Indonesia has been undergoing a revival in railway expansion and upgrades. The high-speed rail corridors have been proposed but not implemented yet, since it was deemed too costly.

In April 2015, China had entered the race with a counter-offer to build the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail in Indonesia.[22] A bid which alarmed Japan that has been nurtured the idea for years.

In July 2015, the Indonesian government announced their plan to build the high-speed rail system connecting Jakarta and Bandung, and devised a competition between Japan and China train-makers as potential bidders. Japan and China had expressed their interest in the project; both countries have done comprehensive studies of the project.[23]

On late September 2015, Indonesia awards this multibillion-dollar railway project to China over Japan.[24][25]

The proposed high-speed rail will connect the nation's capital Jakarta with Bandung city in neighboring West Java province, covering a distance of 150 kilometers, and is also expected to expand further, connecting to Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya in East Java.[23] The project is scheduled to commence in late 2015, and is expected to open its operations to public by 2019.[26]

In December 2015 discussion for the Jakarta-Surabaya high-speed rail was commenced by the Indonesian Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Resources. Academicians from two major universities in Indonesia, and employees from Japan International Cooperation Agency, were invited to attend the discussion.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ http://www.bps.go.id/linkTabelStatis/view/id/1416
  3. ^ The Shrinking Indonesian Railways
  4. ^ New railway on Kalimantan
  5. ^ "Jokowi promises more funding for Trans-Sulawesi rail project". www.thejakartapost.com. Retrieved 2015-12-28. 
  6. ^ "Indonesia's national rail network aims for more growth, less inequality". The Strait Times. Retrieved 8 September 2017. 
  7. ^ "Trangkil No.4". Statfold Barn Railway. Archived from the original on 18 March 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  8. ^ http://bisniskeuangan.kompas.com/read/2016/06/28/174914226/kai.dan.ge.teken.kerja.sama.pemeliharaan.lokomotif.selama.delapan.tahun
  9. ^ http://gereports.co.id/post/153822967250/5-sejarah-lokomotif-ka-terbaik-di-indonesia-sudah
  10. ^ Situs Resmi PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia
  11. ^ Black, John (2016). "3. National Railway System". In Loo, Becky P. Y.; Comtois, Claude. Sustainable Railway Futures. Routledge. p. 42. ISBN 9781409452430. 
  12. ^ http://bisniskeuangan.kompas.com/read/2013/12/10/2138302/Pemerintah.Bangun.Jalur.KA.Trans.Sumatra.Mulai.2014
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-14. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  14. ^ Railway Gazette International November 2010, p56
  15. ^ Indonesia Railway Company Launches Women-Only Carriages Archived 2010-08-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Dahlan: yang dihapus kereta khusus wanita, bukan gerbong". May 15, 2013. 
  17. ^ http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/01/22/railway-line-connect-airport-with-downtown-surabaya.html
  18. ^ Siregar, Raja Adil (20 May 2017). "Menhub Tinjau LRT Palembang, Pastikan Rampung Sebelum Asian Games". detikfinance. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  19. ^ Zakir Hussain, The Straits Times/ANN (28 October 2013). "Jakarta mulls high-speed rail system". The Jakarta Post. Jakarta. 
  20. ^ "Java High Speed Railway Development Project (Phase I)". Japan International Cooperation Agency. 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  21. ^ Robin Harding in Tokyo, Avantika Chilkoti in Jakarta and Tom Mitchell in Beijing (1 October 2015). "Japan cries foul after Indonesia awards rail contract to China". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  22. ^ "Japan loses Indonesian high-speed railway contract to China". The Japan Times. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  23. ^ a b "INDONESIA PRESS-Govt to hold "beauty contest" for high-speed train project - Jakarta Globe". Daily Mail. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  24. ^ "Indonesia to award fast train contract to China - Japanese embassy official". Reuters. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  25. ^ "Indonesia awards multi-billion-dollar railway project to China over Japan". ABC. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  26. ^ Ben Otto and Anita Rachman (30 September 2015). "Indonesia's Handling of High-Speed Train Project Adds to Business Confusion, Mixed messages to Japan, China come as Indonesia courts foreign investors". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 


Further reading[edit]

  • How the Railroad is Modernising Asia, The Advertiser, Adelaide, S. Australia, 22 March 1913. N.B.: The article is of approx. 1,500 words, covering approx. a dozen Asian countries.

External links[edit]