Our weekly “New Starts” column of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.
Indonesia Looking for Cash to Advance Stalled Rail Projects
Got spare change under your sofa cushions? If you do, take it to your bank, get a money order and send it to: Ministry of Transportation, Government of Indonesia, Jakarta.
It seems that the Indonesian government is short on funds it needs to continue work on two large rail transportation projects: a $5.1 billion high-speed rail line connecting Jakarta and Bandung and the $2 billion Jakarta light-rail system.
Global Construction Review, citing an article on the Indonesian news site Tempo.co, reports that Antonius Kosasih, the finance director of the state-owned Wijaya Karya construction company (Wika), says his firm needs 2 trillion rupiah ($150 million U.S.) to complete land clearance for the HSR line. The source of the cash crunch for that project: money that was to have come from the China Development Bank to cover 75 percent of the project’s construction costs. The Tempo.co story states that the Chinese government is waiting for the land to be cleared before releasing the funds. The HSR project was scheduled to be completed in January 2019 but is now behind schedule. To get things moving, Fast Trains Indonesia-China (KCIC), the consortium building the line (Wika is in that group), is purchasing 590 hectares of land in Karawang and Purwakarta and asking shareholders to pitch in to cover the land clearance costs.
So is the Greater Jakarta Light Rail Transit project, work on which began in September 2015. As of now, only 12 percent of that project has been completed. Funding for this project was to have come from the Indonesian government, but it has now decided to make the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia the project’s financier as well as its operator to get the expense off the government’s balance sheet and allow the project to proceed.
Another “Tram-Train” Line Announced for Taipei Region
The China Post reports that the northern port city of Keelung, Taiwan, located about 13 miles northeast of the capital of Taipei, will get its own “tram-train” line connecting it to the capital.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced the project on March 17. The line will connect Keelung with Taipei’s Nangang district utilizing existing rail rights-of-way. There will be nine stations on the line that will run from Nangang Exhibition Hall Station in Taipei to Keelung. The route will utilize existing tram tracks from Nangang to Badu and share the right-of-way of a Taiwan Railway line connecting Badu with Keelung.
The line will connect with two Taipei Metro lines, buses, intercity and high-speed rail service at Nangang.
The line is being built now because of both political and economic changes that have taken place since Keelung Mayor Chang Tung-rong first proposed building it during the administration of Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou. At that time, the Taiwanese government said that there was insufficient traffic to justify the project and that it would be a burden on the Keelung city government budget. Tsai said in her remarks that Keelung “has changed for the better” under Chang’s successor, Lin Yu-chang.
Tsai said that the line, which is scheduled to open in 2022, is “Keelung’s largest construction plan in the last 30 years.”
New Metro Extension Opens in Moscow
Moscow’s newest Metro extension entered service on March 16 with the opening of a 7.3-km (4.5-mile) extension of Line 8A, the International Railway Journal reports.
Moscow's Park Pobedy station (Photo by Jaime Silva)
The new extension will reduce journey times from the section of Moscow it serves to the city center by up to an hour. It is the second section of Line 8a to open; the first, from Delovoy Tsentr to Park Pobedy, opened in 2014. Eventually, Line 8a will become the western end of Line 8, which opened in stages between 1979 and 2012.
The new extension brings the total length of the Moscow Metro’s route network to 346 km (215 miles). An additional 35 km (21.75 miles) of new routes are set to open by the end of this year.
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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is an associate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.