Indonesia has signed a project agreement with Japan for the medium-speed train project to link its two largest cities, Jakarta and Surabaya.

The deal for the construction of the 715km railway project was signed by the Government of Indonesia and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which commenced a conducting preparatory survey in June.

The project, which will incorporate some existing tracks, is expected double the present speed of the existing train to 160kph.

It will slash travel time between the two cities from nine hours to five and a half hours.

It is estimated that the project will cost IDR60tn ($4.3bn), which will be funded by Japanese loans.

Indonesia Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said: “By May 2020, JICA is scheduled to hand in the survey results, so we can make a decision on the project. Hopefully, the survey results will arrive earlier, so we can start working on land clearance sooner.”

The project will be carried out in two phases. The first phase will link Jakarta and the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang.

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The second phase of the project will link Semarang and Surabaya, the capital of East Java province.

The initial phase of the project is expected to be completed by 2024, the minister noted.

It will feature a one-way track and will use a narrow gauge railway track, which is better suited to the characteristics of the land in Java.

Sumadi said:  “We will build a new track to Semarang [in Central Java], and then upgrade the existing tracks between Semarang and Surabaya. The whole project is targeted for completion by 2025.”

In January, Indonesia introduced a new rail service from Jakarta city centre to its international airport, which is expected to decongest the city’s roads and highways and provide a faster transportation alternative for travellers.