You don't have to travel to Japan to experience the high-speed bullet trains as we now have one right here in Southeast Asia! Indonesia just launched their first inter-city high-speed rail between Jakarta and Bandung and you can be one of the first few to experience it! Time to pack our bags and fly down to Indonesia.
PS: Do note that you will still have to catch a train into the city centre at Bandung!
What is it
The high-speed rail named, Whoosh (Waktu Hemat, Operasi Optimal, Sistem Handal) was a project that started in 2016 but got delayed due to setbacks and the Covid-19 pandemic. The 142-km long rail network connects the country's capital, Jakarta to another major city, Bandung. This provides fast travel between the cities, cutting down the 2.5-hour car ride by more than half, 45 minutes at the time of writing this article! The train has the potential to reach top speeds of 385km/h! It may be one of the top 10 fastest trains in the world.
The railway system is also equipped to withstand the earthquakes that are common in the region, with smart sensors, earthquake monitoring capabilities and an early warning system that ensures that the safety of passengers is the number one priority.
Such a high-speed rail would consume a large amount of energy. However, it all runs on electricity rather than carbon hence, decreasing the carbon emissions greatly. It is highly energy-efficient as well which makes it one of the most environmentally-friendly forms of inter-city travel in Indonesia. There are, of course, many improvements that can be made however it is a step in the right direction towards introducing sustainable travelling in Southeast Asia.
Each train has 8 carriages which are capable of carrying more than 600 passengers at one instant. There are three classes of coaches: Business, First Class and Second Class.
PS: If you are prone to motion sickness, the train does not shake at all so you need not worry about feeling dizzy while taking the train!
Where does it go
From Jakarta, it operates from Halim Station, which is located in East Jakarta. We know that it connects the two major cities: Jakarta and Bandung. However, it does make another stop in Karawang Station,
There are two stations that stop in Bandung: Padalarang Station and Tegalluar Station. Padalarang Station stops nearer to West Bandung, whereas Tegalluar Station stops nearer towards East Bandung. There are no stops that are directly near the city centre. Tegalluar Station is also the second-largest station on the line.
How to book
Right now, train tickets can be bought at the ticketing machines that are found in the stations. So if you're coming from Jakarta, head down towards Halim Station to grab your tickets. The tickets are expected to cost between US$16 to US$20 (IDR 249, 000 - IDR312, 000 | SGD22 - SGD27 | RM75 - RM95).
You can also get the tickets from the official government app KAI Mobile, however, the fast train ticket purchasing feature cannot be used yet as the schedule and tickets are not yet available.
PS: Right now, the rail is still in testing mode and free trial tickets are being released here! The tickets are open to locals only as you need your NIK (I/C) number to grab the tickets (maximum of two). However, we can't guarantee its availability so do check back often.
Amenities and services
When you enter the station, there are clear signs towards the ticketing machines, waiting areas etc. You can enter the waiting area once you've bought your ticket and cleared security. Yes! There is a security clearance just like at the airport.
On the train itself, there is a dining car that serves a variety of beverages and snacks so you won't go hungry while on the train! There are also toilets available on the train itself.
For your baggage, there are overhead compartments for storing your carry-ons and a luggage compartment at the ends of the carriage, just like any other inter-city train. However space is minimal so you may have to place your luggage with you at the seats, or carry it to put on the overhead (if you can).
The seats are covered with a batik design and are reclinable as well. They also have a built-in table so you can eat with ease in the train.
There are plans for Phase 2 of the high-speed railway network which will then connect Bandung to Surabaya, stopping at Cirebon and Semarang on the way there. If you want to keep up-to-date with the developments of the rail, you can check out their Instagram here! Or head down to their website here.