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Expert warns of high cost of subway JAKARTA - A overseas expert warned on Tuesday of the price the city would have to pay for its Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) or subway system, saying the project would be barely feasible. Director for International Affairs at Japan's Teito Rapid Transit Authority (TRTA) Kunio Kawakami told a seminar on the Indonesian railway system here that there were only a few subway systems worldwide whose operating income exceeded operating costs.
"Basically, the successful ones entered the subway business many years ago and have maintained a certain level of demand," Kawakami pointed out. This fact, he said, suggested that such businesses have long gestation periods. The government has since 1992 been studying the construction of an MRT system with a view to resolving traffic congestion in the capital. On Monday, Governor Sutiyoso insisted that the MRT project tops his administration's list of priorities and vowed to push the project forward as soon as he received approval from President Abdurrahman Wahid.
The TRTA is a public corporation which was established in 1941. It operates eight subway lines in Tokyo, with a total length of 171 kilometers and a total of 2,431 cars divided into eight different types. The company started the construction of the Marunouchi line, the first subway line in Tokyo, over a decade after its establishment, and this was then followed by the other lines. The company's capital was 58.1 billion yen or approximately US$5.05 billion, but it was not until 1995 that the company's revenue exceeded its expenditure.
"It is difficult to set fares at high levels because a subway provides citizens with transport as a daily necessity," Kawakami asserted. As a result, he said, subway operators have difficulty in maintaining their businesses because of their low feasibility levels. Since its establishment, the TRTA has received government subsidies from both the national and local governments. A total of 352.4 billion yen furnished through the National Subway Grant System has been used to cover the TRTA's operating costs since 1961.
"The national subvention has greatly contributed to the operation of the subways. But those funds should be repaid to the nation in the future," Kawakami said. The national government, he said, plans to recover its investment by privatizing the TRTA and offering shares in the company to the public.

Urban railroad

On the sidelines of the seminar, the technology development manager of the state-owned railroad engineering company PT Industri Kereta (PT INKA) Api, Gunesti Wahyu Handiko, revealed that his company had succeeded in developing its own electric urban train (KRL) named the KRL-I. He said two sets of the train's prototype, with four cars each, will be launched sometime this year.
"We have been importing electric trains from Europe and Japan but now we can produce them ourselves. The important thing now is how to convince government to buy them," he told reporters. The trains, Gunesti said, are completely fabricated in Indonesia, although only 60 percent of the components are locally produced. The Strategic Industries' Management Agency (PT BPIS), National Electronics Institute (LEN), PT INKA and the Bandung-based Army Industrial Center (PINDAD) were involved in the development of the trains.
Gunesti, however, declined to disclose the total investment involved. "By comparison, imported trains cost between US$3.6 million and US$4.2 million per set. Ours are cheaper than that, but are of equal quality," he asserted. PT INKA has succeeded in producing intercity trains such as the Jakarta-Surabaya Argo Bromo train which serves the East Java line.
State railway company PT Kereta Api (KA) operates electric trains within the Greater Jakarta area, carrying some 400,000 commuters each day. However, many have been demanding more frequent departures as passengers are often crammed into overloaded cars.



Posted in General @ 07 February 2001 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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