Jakarta (AsiaNews) - In a surprise move, Jakarta scrapped a US$ 5 billion high-speed railway project after a fierce bidding war between China and Japan.
Coordinating Minister for the Economy Darmin Nasution told reporters after a five-hour meeting with other ministers on the rail project President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo decided that the high-speed service connecting Jakarta and the West Java provincial capital Bandung is no longer needed.
Nasution said that the link is relatively short at around 150km and was not sufficiently long for the high-speed train to sustain the envisaged top speed of 300km/h.
The “train would not be able to reach the maximum speed, because before it reaches the speed, the brake has to be put on,” he explained. What Indonesia needed was a “train with the speed between 200km/h and 250km/h.”
According to the top economic minister, the time difference between a high-speed and a medium-speed service will only be up to 11 minutes, while the cost for the slower train will be 30 per cent to 40 per cent less.
Only Japan and China made comprehensive feasibility studies to enter bids for building the link. The Chinese proposal did not call for a government guarantee, whereas Japan’s proposal did.
China said it could start construction a month after the groundbreaking and finish within three years.
Tokyo’s proposal, which is the best in terms of safety, would take five years to complete.
Previously, Indonesian authorities had delayed announcing their decision. Neither Beijing nor Tokyo have released any statement on the matter, for now.