Whoosh train in Indonesia

Indonesia Launches First High-Speed Bullet Train in Southeast Asia

Indonesia has launched Southeast Asia-‘s first high-speed railway that costs USD7.3 billion, linking the capital Jakarta and the city of Bandung in 45 minutes.

The 140km journey would previously have taken about three hours by train.

The 600-capacity bullet train named Whoosh, which stands for “time saving, optimal operation, reliable system” in Indonesian, runs on electricity with no direct carbon emissions and travels at a speed of roughly 350 km per hour, which is faster than Japan’s renowned bullet trains, the Shinkansen.

The Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi who inaugurated the train’s first commercial operations in early October 2023, said the name ‘Whoosh’ is inspired by the sound of a rushing high-speed train.

The launch of the high-speed train service represents a significant leap in Indonesia’s rail transportation. It is a testament to the country’s commitment to enhancing intercity connectivity, improving passenger experience, and promoting sustainable travel.

Indonesian travel players said that the cutting-edge train service has accelerated the interest of both domestic and foreign tourists in exploring Bandung and its surrounding areas. Bandung is the capital of Indonesia’s West Java province, and is a large city set amid volcanoes and tea plantations. It is known for colonial and art deco architecture, and thanks to its 768m elevation, it has a relatively cool tropical weather.

The Indonesian Transportation Ministry has also confirmed that the government would extend the high-speed train route from Bandung to the country’s second-biggest city, Surabaya. Stops at other major cities like Semarang and Yogyakarta, the gateway to Borobudur – the largest Buddhist temple in the world – are also being planned.

This expansion would be a game-changer for Indonesia, playing a pivotal role in leading the development of the country’s tourism sector. In time to come, Whoosh will attract European and American tourists who enjoy overland trips, the local travel trade said.

For November 2023, the number of daily trips has been increased to 28 trips, and number of available seats doubled to more than 16,000 per day due to popular demand. The number of tickets that have been sold, including reservations, from October 17 to November 1, 2023, has reached 124,000 tickets.

The ticket price has been set at 300,000 rupiah (about USD19) one way, which includes the feeder train service to and from Bandung. Tickets can be reserved through various means, including the website with reservations from seven days before departure up to one hour before the departure time as well as automated ticket vending machines at the stations or via the ticket counters.

The Whoosh railway system, built by a consortium of Indonesian and Chinese companies, is part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, a decade-old programme of China-backed infrastructure projects.

Whoosh it brings with it the promise of an elevated travel experience, setting a new standard for railway journeys in Indonesia.

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