Jakarta, Oct 2 (EFE).- Indonesian President Joko Widodo officially inaugurated on Monday a high-speed train connecting the capital Jakarta with the city of Bandung, the first of its kind in the archipelago and Southeast Asia.
Widodo, during his inaugural speech at Jakarta, said the new rail represented “the modernisation of our mass transportation that is environmentally friendly.”
He underlined that the high-speed train was something new for them – technology, speed, construction and financing model.
The train line, named “WHOOSH”, from “Waktu Hemat, Operasi Optimal, Handal System” in Bahasa (translated as Time Saving, Optimal Operation, Reliable System), will cover about 140 kilometers between Jakarta and Bandung, in the province of West Java and a popular tourist destination at a maximum speed of 350 kilometers per hour.
The train has capacity for 601 passengers and reduces the journey from about 3.5 hours on the traditional train to 40 minutes.
It is one of Widodo’s flagship projects, who since coming to power in 2014 has placed a special emphasis on promoting large-scale infrastructure works, and is integrated within the Belt and Road Initiative promoted by China.
The project, which has been developed by PT Kereta Cepta Indonesia China – a joint venture created in 2015 between an Indonesian state company and a Chinese consortium – at a cost of $7.3 billion, using Chinese technology.
Although the Chinese involvement has received much criticism at home.
Its inauguration was expected in 2019, and was partly delayed by additional costs of $1.2 billion, according to Indonesian media, apart from questions about the adequacy of its security controls, among other matters.
In this regard, Widodo pointed out Monday that new technologies were expensive, but very valuable and would be beneficial for the nation.
The authorities of Indonesia and China have claimed that this train line will bring economic benefits to the regions it connects and passes through. EFE