Indonesia has opened Southeast Asia’s first high-speed rail to the public after years of delay and cost overrun.
The train connecting the capital Jakarta to a nearby city of Bandung can ferry up to 600 passengers at a top speed of 350 kilometers (220 miles) an hour. The railway is called WHOOSH, an acronym for “Time Saving, Optimal Operation, Reliable System” in Indonesian.
The railway is the culmination of Indonesia’s decade of infrastructure boom as President Joko Widodo builds out roads, ports and airports to propel the country toward high-income status. Its opening also establishes a key part of the leader’s legacy, despite the train’s construction being marred by ballooning costs and years of setbacks.
Initially set to be completed in 2019, the pandemic pushed back the project’s timeline while land acquisition problems led the overall cost to surge to $7.2 billion, from $6 billion. Safety tests also delayed the railway’s opening from August.
The project is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and built by a consortium involving China Railway International Co. Ltd.