Let the Train Take the Strain

Trying to get to the airport faster? Hop aboard the airport train

By Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata
Sunday, April 9, 2017

It is very much the norm for airline passengers departing from Jakarta via Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to set aside from an hour to two hours during peak traffic hours just to make the flight from Cengkareng, northwest of the capital.

But with the new airport railway line project on schedule so far, travelers will be able to travel in less than an hour from downtown Jakarta, irrespective of traffic, to the airport by taking the new airport train service, which is set to start in time for the mid-year peak travel season.

During  a recent inspection tour of the designated railway stations that will connect downtown Jakarta to the airport, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi expressed optimism that the stations’ construction will finish in June, given that the airport railway train project has reached 60 percent progress.

“Overall, construction of the Sudirman Baru, Duri and Batu Ceper stations is progressing as planned. We expect they will be completed in June so they can begin to operate in July or August,” Sumadi said on the sidelines of the tour, during which he was accompanied by State Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Sumarno, PT MRT president director William P. Sabandar, PT Railink director Heru Kuswanto, PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) president director Edi Sukmoro and acting Jakarta governor Soemarsono.

In addition to the three stations where the entourage made inspection stops, the Manggarai station in South Jakarta will also connect the airport train to the city, making a total of five stations, along the Manggarai-airport railway line that stretches for 36.3-kilometers.

The airport train will also run on another line, connecting the Kampung Bandan, Duri and Batu Ceper stations in between. Both lines will run 40 trains per day and are expected to transport 33,000 passengers per day or about 20 percent of the total commuters going to and from the airport every day.

Budi said the airport train fare will be no more than Rp100,000 per trip, much less than a normal taxi fare to get to the airport, which could cost passengers around Rp200,000 on average from the downtown area. 

The railway lines will be operated by PT Railink, a joint venture between state-owned companies – railway operator PT KAI and airport operator Angkasa Pura (AP) II.

Rini, the SOE minister, said it would take travelers 45 minutes to get to the airport from Dukuh Atas station and 54 minutes from Manggarai station.

The Dukuh Atas station, which will also be one of six underground stations along the mass rapid transit line (MRT) serving Lebak Bulus to Hotel Indonesia roundabout, will be an integrated interchange station for commuters taking the MRT, the airport train, the light rail transit (LRT) commuter train currently under construction, the Jabodetabek or greater Jakarta commuter train line via Sudirman station as well as passengers using Transjakarta buses.

“The Dukuh Atas station will feature circular pedestrian bridges. It will allow transfers for commuters to the airport railway line, commuter line, Transjakarta bus, LRT station and the surrounding Dukuh Atas area,” transportation ministry spokesman J.A. Barata said.  

Given the progress so far, Rini said she is optimistic that it will meet its completion target. Some land acquisition disputes in an area between Batu Ceper station and the airport were recently settled in court, giving the green light for work to continue on schedule.

The opening of the train should correspond with the full transfer of international departures and arrivals from the current Terminal 2 to the new Terminal 3 by the end of July.

AP II president director Muhammad Awaluddin said the airport station project is 85 done in accordance and is due for completion on time.

The airport station, which can accommodate up to 3,500 passengers, will be connected to the airport’s skytrain system or the driverless automated people mover system (APMS) similar to that in Singapore’s Changi airport, which will allow travelers to transfer between terminals 1, 2 and 3.

“By having the airport train fully operational, it will be quite significant to increase connectivity from the city to the airport and reduce the use of private cars and traffic congestion in the airport area. Passengers will also have increased mobility since it will be easier, more comfortable and faster with 45 minutes travel time to get to the airport,” Awaluddin said.

The airport’s skytrain system, which cost Rp950 billion rupiah for the procurement of the trains and the train track and stations, will begin its initial service in June by operating a two-car train set that can carry 176 people and will transfer passengers or airport visitors between terminals 2 and 3.

It will be fully operational with three train sets that can carry 528 people in August, transferring people to and from all three terminals in the airport and the integrated airport railway line station.

Awaluddin said the train will run at a speed of 60 kilometers per hour, making five-minute transfers from Terminal 1 to the integrated station and seven-minute transfers from the station to terminals 2 and 3.

The airport operator said it expects to achieve a five-star airport certification from Skytrax when the airport train and skytrain are up and running.

But with the improvements it has made so far, most significantly with the new Terminal 3, which began operations in August 2016, Skytrax named Soekarno-Hatta the world’s most improved airport on March 14 in Amsterdam.

“The World’s Most Improved Airport is the initial stage of our bigger target; to make Soekarno-Hatta International Airport the best airport,” Awaluddin said.

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