Indonesia President Joko Widodo formally launched the country’s controversial new 350kph ‘Whoosh’ bullet train link on Monday.
The $7.3 billion high-speed railway connecting the country’s capital with the city of Bandung, has been marred with problems, ranging from land procurement issues, to pandemic-related delays and ballooning costs.
And the 142-kilometre (88.23-mile) railway, one of the president’s flagship infrastructure projects and backed by China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is also far behind an original target launch for 2019.
“The name is inspired by the sound of a rushing high speed train,” Jokowi, as the president is popularly called, said during the launch.
The maximum operating speed of the train could reach 350 kilometres per hour (217 mph), Jokowi said, calling this “the modernisation of our mass transportation that is environmentally friendly”.
Luhut Pandjaitan, a senior minister overseeing the project, said at the launch that free trial rides on the bullet train, which have been under way since the second week of September, will be extended and ticket prices will be implemented in mid-October.
A consortium of Indonesian and Chinese companies built the railway.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara