Indonesia's and Southeast Asia's first high-speed rail (HSR) project is expected to connect the country's largest cities of Jakarta and Bandung, the capital of West Java, covering a distance approaching 142.3 kilometres. As of March 2021, PT KCIC stated that the construction of the Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Rail has reached 70 percent and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. No trains can run until track construction is completed.
Plans and studies have been in the works for high-speed rail (HSR) in Indonesia for many years. It was seriously contemplated in 2008, with plans firm in 2015. The new plan to start Jakarta-Bandung HSR construction was announced by the Indonesian government in July 2015, after the President of China and world leaders visited during the Bandung Conference. Plans were also mentioned for a possible extension of the HSR to Surabaya in East Java.
The cost for the line is expected to be $8 billion USD.
Indonesia already has a conventional railway network.
Both Japan and China had expressed their interest in the high speed rail projects in Indonesia. Previously, both countries had carried out comprehensive studies for a project for the Jakarta–Bandung section (142.3 km). Only the Japanese International Cooperation Agency ( JICA), had issued a study for a project extending to Surabaya (730 km). The Indonesian HSR bid marked rivalry between Japan and China in their competition for Asian infrastructure projects.
In late September, 2015, Indonesia awarded the rail project to China, much to Japan's disappointment. It was said that China's offer to build the Jakarta–Bandung line without requiring an official loan guarantee nor funding from Indonesia was the tipping point of Jakarta's decision.
In January 2016, the transportation minister released a route permit for a high speed railway between Jakarta and Bandung (142.3 kilometers) with stations located at Halim (Jakarta end), Karawang, Walini, and Tegalluar (Bandung end) with a Tegalluar depot. 71.63 km of the track would be at ground level, 53.54 km would be elevated, and 15.63 km would be underground. A better departure point at the Jakarta end would be the inner city railway station of Gambir but because construction of the Gambir-Halim leg was seen as adding complications, the line was planned from Halim (Jakarta) to Tegalluar (Bandung) with a cost of $5.135 million. Concession period is 50 years from May 31, 2019 and cannot be prolonged, except in a force majeure situation. Groundbreaking was done on January 21, 2016. The HSR is a project of 60 percent Indonesian consortium and 40 percent China Railway International. The Jakarta–Bandung high-speed rail was planned to begin its operations in 2019 The Japanese proposal would have started operation only by 2023. The section Bandung-Surabaya, though a priority section due to heavy congestion, has been officially shelved for budget reasons since early 2015.
In October 2016, the Indonesian government announced its intention to build a 600 km medium-high speed railway between Jakarta and Surabaya, and invited Japan to participate in this project.
Since 2008, Japan has long-nurtured the plan to export their Shinkansen high-speed railway technology to Indonesia. During Indonesia-Japan Friendship Festival in November 2008, Japan showcased their Shinkansen technology to impress Indonesian audiences. The idea of high-speed rail backed by funding (soft loans) has been proposed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the Indonesian island of Java, linking up the densely populated corridor from the capital Jakarta to Surabaya (730 km). The island, similar in many respects to pre-HSR Honshu, suffered greatly from both freight and passenger congestion.
The idea had been around for some years. However, a new proposal to divide the project into stages emerged, with the first stage from Jakarta to Bandung. The conventional train time of 3 hours would be reduced to 35 minutes at a price of 78 trillion rupiah. JICA finished the detailed feasibility study in 2014. This succeeded an initial study in 2012. By 2013 Indonesia had been undergoing a revival in railway expansion and upgrades. High-speed corridors had been proposed but not implemented.
Japan – with its reputation as a world-class train-maker – seemed destined to win the contract. However, in 2014 Indonesian government changed, as Joko Widodo swore in as a new president in October of that year. In January 2015 the Joko administration essentially stopped preparations for the high-speed rail project, citing that the high-speed rail project was too costly and there were more pressing infrastructure needs in outlying underdeveloped islands outside of Java.
Japanese domination in high-speed rail project seemed to be unchallenged. However, that was until April 2015 when China had entered the race with a counter-offer.
In March 2015, Joko Widodo traveled to Tokyo and Beijing. In Tokyo March 22–25 Joko Widodo met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Widodo got a commitment for Japanese loan support for improving Jakarta's municipal rail network, but no progress was made on resolving issues with the Jakarta–Bandung high-speed rail project.
On March 26, 2015, Joko Widodo visited Beijing and met China's paramount leader Xi Jinping. Xi publicly announced support for the Indonesian high-speed project and the two governments signed a memorandum specifying China's interest in the Jakarta–Bandung line. In April 2015, China submitted a bid for the Indonesian high-speed rail project – much to Japan's dismay.
In July 2015, Indonesian government exposed its plan to build the high-speed rail connecting Jakarta and Bandung, and arranged a contest between Japan and China train-makers as potential bidders. China responded by launching a Chinese High-speed Rail Technology exhibition in Senayan City shopping mall in Jakarta in August 2015.
Both China and Japan have engaged in a fierce competition through intense lobbying. It was said that the fundamental reason for the high level of assertiveness demonstrated by both Japan and China goes well beyond just economics – this contest is part of a much larger chess game the two Asian powerhouses are playing in pursuit of greater strategic influence within the Asia Pacific.
President Joko Widodo was expected to announce the winning bid of Indonesia's first high-speed rail project in early September 2015. However, to everyone's surprise, on 3 September 2015 the Indonesian government announced that it had cancelled the high-speed rail project, citing that it was now looking to the slower and cheaper rail alternative. It was said that the government turned to semi-high-speed rail.
President Joko Widodo preferred a "business-to-business" (as opposed to "government-to-government" approach). This might signify government unwillingness to partially fund or financially guarantee this costly project.
In mid-September 2015, China said it would fully meet the Indonesian government's demands and offered a new proposal that did not require Indonesia to assume any fiscal burden or debt guarantee in proceeding with the project. After months of bids, revisions and talks among presidents and prime ministers – even a short-lived cancellation of the project – in late September 2015 Indonesia picked China for the $5 billion project. It seems that Beijing has outmanoeuvred Tokyo on this bid as a result of a competitive financing package for Indonesia.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga termed the Indonesian move "difficult to understand" and "extremely regrettable". The situation "can only be described as extremely deplorable," Suga also said. According to Indonesia's State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno, the Chinese bid was picked instead of the Japanese plan because the Chinese had not required any Indonesian government financing or a government guarantee. China's victory over Japan in this bid seems to owe mainly to Chinese willingness to accept the financial risk of the project and possibly to finesse international ODA norms. Japan was unable or unwilling to do so.
China sweetened its deal in other ways, including committing to establish a joint venture with Indonesian firms to produce rolling stock for high-speed rail, electric rail, light rail systems, not only for Indonesia, but also for export to other Asian countries – to transfer related technology – and to renovate and rebuild train stations. It seems that Indonesia has benefitted from Japan-China competition.
In April 2016, five Chinese high-speed rail project workers were arrested in Halim Perdanakusuma Airbase. This incident highlighted the refusal of Indonesian Air Force to give up lands belonging to the Halim Perdanakusuma airbase in East Jakarta. It was reported that one of the railway stations would be located on land currently within Halim airbase.
In February 2018, Onan Hiroshi, a Japanese cartoonist described Indonesian President Joko Widodo as a "High-speed rail beggar" pointing out Indonesia's request for Japan's assistance in completing the project. The cartoon quickly drew protest from Indonesian internet users, and by 25 February, the cartoonist tweeted an apology, removed the drawings and closed the page.
Jakarta–Bandung high-speed rail
Initial 4 stations 
The China Railway Group Limited (CREC) will form a joint venture with a consortium of Indonesia's state-owned enterprises (SOEs) led by PT Wijaya Karya Tbk in developing the first High Speed Train (HST) in the country.
On Friday, 16 October 2015, Chinese and Indonesian state-owned companies officially signed the deal to build the first high-speed railway in Indonesia. The project cost was estimated to be US$5.5 billion (80 trillion rupiah). The deal was signed by China Railway International Co. Ltd. Chairman Yang Zhongmin and Dwi Windarto, the president director of a consortium of Indonesian state companies, PT Pilar Sinergi BUMN Indonesia. China Development Bank has given a commitment to fund 75 percent of the project costs with loan terms of 40 years for the loan—with an initial grace period of 10 years—with fixed loan rate. CRCC will hold majority shares in the planned JV company, while WIKA holds 30 percent and small portions for local toll operator PT Jasa Marga Tbk (IDX: JSMR), train operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia and plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara VIII.
In late August 2016, it was reported that the China Development Bank had not yet disbursed funds for the loan and that PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China, the consortium executing the project, was not sure when funds would become available.
In mid-February 2020, construction progress reached 44 percent and land acquisitions reach 99.96 percent. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work of the project has been halted temporarily, resulting in the delay of the targeted finish of construction and start of the operation. Three months later, construction progress reached 48.3 percent and the construction works resumed, which follow government's health and safety measures, such as social/physical distancing in response to the pandemic. In September, Director of KCIC Xin Xuezhong stated that construction progress reached 60 percent and land acquisitions reached 100 percent.
In March 2017, the Indonesian Government selected Japan as the partner for the revitalization of the railway connecting Jakarta and Surabaya. The project aimed to upgrade the speed of trains between two major Indonesian cities to higher-speed rail with operating speeds of between 140 and 160 kilometers per hour (km/h), with Track Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in). Construction would replace level grade crossings with elevated ones. Currently, there are around 988 level grade crossings between Jakarta and Surabaya, which hinder the security, intensity and the speed of trains. The project phase-1 will run on a new railtrack from Jakarta to Semarang, whereas the phase-2 will run on upgrade the existing railtrack from Semarang to Surabaya.
Japan, which previously lost to China to be associated with the high-speed railway connecting Jakarta and Bandung is the partner in this project. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had joined the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology in conducting a feasibility study of the project.