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Most rail transport in Indonesia is located on the island of Java, which has two major rail lines that run the length of the island, as well as several connecting lines. The island of Sumatra has three (soon to be four) unconnected railway lines in the northernmost province of Aceh, North Sumatra (the area surrounding Medan), West Sumatra (Padang and its environs), and South Sumatra and Lampung.
Indonesia's railways are operated by the state-owned PT Kereta Api, and the newly formed PT Kereta Api Jabotabek, operating the commuter lines in the Jakarta metropolitan area. The infrastructure is state-owned, and the companies pay a fee for the usage of the railway lines.
Indonesia's rail gauge is 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in), although 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 750 mm (2 ft 5 1⁄2 in) lines previously existed. New construction in Aceh has the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) gauge. Most of the Jakarta metropolitan area is electrified at 1500 V DC overhead.
Various narrow gauge industrial tramways operate in Java and Sumatra, serving the sugarcane and oil palm industries.
Historical overview 
Before 1949 
The first railway track in Indonesia was laid between Semarang and Tanggung—both in Central Java—on 17 June 1864 by the Dutch colonial government. The line opened in 1867 and later continued to Yogyakarta. This privately owned line used the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) gauge. Later construction by both private and state railway companies used the 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge. By 1894, the main cities of Java, Jakarta (then Batavia) and Surabaya were already rail-connected. By the 1920s, the system in Java had reached its greatest extent, with most towns and cities connected by rail, with branches and tramways connecting sugar plantations to factories.
The separate railway systems in Sumatra have interesting histories. The 750 mm (2 ft 5 1⁄2 in) gauge Aceh Tramway was a military railway built for "pacification" of the area, the Deli system served a plantation area, the West Sumatran system transporting coal from inland mines to the port at Padang. The South Sumatran system, finished in the 1930s served a fertile plantation area and an important coal mine.
The Great Depression of the 1930s put paid to plans of constructing railway lines in Borneo, Celebes, connecting the lines in Sumatra and electrification of the lines in Java. The Japanese occupation period during the Second World War saw the loss of the standard gauge line and scores of locomotives, being transported to Malaya, Burma and elsewhere.
1949 - present 
The Japanese occupation and the Indonesian War of Independence left Indonesia's railways in a poor condition. A batch of 100 steam locomotives were ordered in 1950, and in 1953 the first mainline diesel-electric locomotive was purchased from the United States. Dieselisation continued apace, and by the 1980s most mainline services have been dieselised. Electric multiple units were also obtained from Japan beginning in the 1970s, replacing 60-year-old electric locomotives.
Since the independence era, all mainline railways in Indonesia have been managed by the government. The owners of the private railway were compensated first, but the system was fully nationalised in 1971.
Construction of new railway lines has been few and far between, and most new construction is concentrated on double- and quad-tracking of existing railway lines. Most of the former tramway lines have been closed, reducing the mileage from about 7000 km to only 3000 km.
Passenger services 
Other than in West Sumatra, where only weekly tourist trains operate, PT Kereta Api (Persero) provides extensive passenger services. Various classes are available, from executive class air conditioned, reclining seat coaches comparable to the better classes of other country's railways, through non-air conditioned business class coaches having reclining seats, to the hard bench non-air conditioned economy class coaches for the cheaper trains.
Passenger trains run during daytime and evenings. As distances are not too great, no sleeping cars are provided, although non-airconditioned trains generally run in the evenings to alleviate the discomforts.
In Java, most trains connect Jakarta and the hinterland. Regional (or "cross-country" services) have not developed fully. Between pairs of important cities such as Jakarta and Bandung, intensive hourly services are provided.
Most passenger trains in Indonesia, except commuter locals were named. The names varied from plainly descriptive such as Depok Ekspres (a fast service between Jakarta and Depok), through Logawa (name of a river near Purwokerto, which is served by the train), Argo Lawu (Mt. Lawu, an extinct volcano near Solo, which is served by the said express train), to more or less meaningless, though romantic, names such as Bangunkarta (abbreviation of names of cities it serves: Jombang-Madiun-Jakarta) and Matarmaja (Malang-Blitar-Madiun-Jakarta).
Railway passenger services experienced a renaissance in the 1995-1999 period, with the introduction of many new passenger expresses. With the advent of cheap airplane tickets, PT Kereta Api has experienced a downturn in the number of passengers carried, though the number has stabilized and most trains remain at more than 50% occupancy rate.
Women only carriages 
As response to many reports of sexual harassments in public places, including commuter trains and buses, PT Kereta Api has launched women-only carriages in some commuter trains in Jakarta metropolitan area in August 2010.
List of named economy class passenger trains in Java and Sumatra 
|Bengawan||Jakarta Tanah Abang - Solo Jebres||Economy|
|Bogowonto||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Yogyakarta Lempuyangan||Economy||with air conditioner (AC)|
|Brantas||Jakarta Tanah Abang - Kediri||Economy||via Semarang - Solo|
|Gaya Baru Malam Selatan||Jakarta Kota - Surabaya Gubeng||Economy|
|Kahuripan||Padalarang (Bandung) - Kediri||Economy|
|Kertajaya||Jakarta Tanjung Priok - Surabaya Pasar Turi||Economy|
|Kutojaya||Jakarta Tanah Abang - Kutoarjo||Economy|
|Kutojaya Selatan||Kiaracondong (Bandung) - Kutoarjo||Economy|
|Lancang Kuning||Medan - Tanjung Balai||Economy|
|Logawa||Purwokerto - Jember||Economy||via Surabaya|
|Matarmaja||Pasar Senen - Malang||Economy||via Semarang-Solo|
|Pasundan||Kiaracondong (Bandung) - Surabaya Gubeng||Economy|
|Penataran||Surabaya Kota - Blitar||Economy||via Malang|
|Probowangi||Probolinggo - Banyuwangi||Economy|
|Progo||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Yogyakarta Lempuyangan||Economy|
|Putri Deli||Medan - Tanjung Balai||Economy|
|Rajabasa||Kertapati - Tanjung Karang||Economy|
|Rapih Dhoho||Surabaya Kota - Blitar||Economy||via Kertosono|
|Serayu||Jakarta Kota - Kroya||Economy||via Bandung|
|Siantar Ekspres||Medan - Siantar||Economy|
|Sibinuang||Padang - Pariaman||Economy|
|Sindang Marga||Kertapati - Lubuk Linggau||Economy|
|Sri Tanjung||Yogyakarta Lempuyangan - Banyuwangi Baru||Economy||via Surabaya|
|Tawang Alun||Malang - Banyuwangi||Economy|
|Tawang Jaya||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Semarang Poncol||Economy|
|Tegal Arum||Pasar Senen - Tegal||Economy|
List of named executive and business class passenger trains in Java and Sumatra 
|Argo Bromo Anggrek||Jakarta Gambir - Surabaya Pasar Turi||Executive||Commonly called "Argo Anggrek"|
|Argo Dwipangga||Jakarta Gambir - Solo Balapan||Executive||Via Yogyakarta|
|Argo Jati||Jakarta Gambir - Cirebon||Executive|
|Argo Lawu||Jakarta Gambir - Solo Balapan||Executive||Via Yogyakarta|
|Argo Muria||Jakarta Gambir - Semarang Tawang||Executive|
|Argo Parahyangan||Jakarta Gambir - Bandung||Executive and business|
|Argo Sindoro||Jakarta Gambir - Semarang Tawang||Executive|
|Argo Wilis||Bandung - Surabaya Gubeng||Executive||Via Yogyakarta|
|Bangunkarta||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Jombang||Executive|
|Bima Express||Jakarta Gambir - Surabaya Gubeng||Executive||Via Yogyakarta|
|Cirebon Ekspres||Jakarta Gambir - Cirebon / Tegal||Executive and business|
|Fajar Utama Semarang||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Semarang Tawang||Business|
|Fajar Utama Yogyakarta||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Yogyakarta Tugu||Business|
|Gajayana||Jakarta Kota - Malang||Executive||Via Yogyakarta|
|Gumarang||Jakarta Kota - Surabaya Pasar Turi||Executive and business|
|Harina Express||Bandung - Semarang||Executive and business|
|Limex Sriwijaya||Kertapati - Tanjung Karang||Executive and business|
|Lodaya||Bandung - Solo Balapan||Executive and business||Via Yogyakarta|
|Malabar||Bandung - Malang||Executive, business and economy plus||Via Yogyakarta|
|Merak Jaya||Jakarta Kota - Merak||Business||Defunct in July 2006 and change to economic train 'named Banten Express' in April 2008|
|Mutiara Selatan||Bandung - Surabaya Gubeng||Business||Via Yogyakarta|
|Mutiara Timur||Banyuwangi - Surabaya Gubeng||Executive and business|
|Purwojaya||Jakarta Gambir - Cilacap||Executive and business|
|Rajawali||Surabaya Pasar Turi - Semarang||Executive and business|
|Sancaka||Yogyakarta Tugu - Surabaya Gubeng||Executive and business|
|Sawunggalih||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Kutoarjo||Executive and business|
|Sembrani||Jakarta Kota - Surabaya Pasar Turi||Executive|
|Senja Kediri||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Kediri||Business|
|Senja Utama Semarang||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Semarang Tawang||Business|
|Senja Utama Solo||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Solo Balapan||Business|
|Senja Utama Yogyakarta||Jakarta Pasar Senen - Yogyakarta Tugu||Business|
|Serelo||Kertapati - Lubuk Linggau||Executive and business|
|Sribilah||Medan - Rantau Prapat||Executive and business|
|Taksaka||Jakarta Gambir - Yogyakarta Tugu||Executive|
|Turangga||Bandung - Surabaya Gubeng||Executive||Via Yogyakarta|
Rail Network 
Most of active railway network in Indonesia mainly is operated in Java and connecting main cities in the island; from Merak in western edge to Banyuwangi in eastern edge. However several unconnected railway networks built during Netherlands East Indies exist in Sumatra, such as the ones connecting Banda Aceh-Lhokseumawe-Besitang-Medan-Tebingtinggi-Pematang Siantar-Rantau Prapat in Northern Sumatra (the Banda Aceh-Besitang section was closed in 1971, but is being rebuilt, as of 2011 ), Padang-Solok-Bukittinggi in West Sumatra, and Bandar Lampung-Palembang-Lahat-Lubuk Linggau in Southern Sumatra.
Argo Network 
Note: K.A. Argo Gede does not exist anymore. As a replacement, K.A. Argo Parahyangan trains operate the same routing.
Freight services 
The railway system in Java is more or less a passenger-oriented system, and there are few freight services, due to the limited capacity of the tracks. Some notable freight service in Java include the Kalimas container train and the Parcel train between Jakarta and Surabaya, petroleum trains between refineries or oil pipe terminals and oil depots, and quartz sand trains in Central Java.
On the other hand, the system in South Sumatra is rather freight-oriented. Coal unit trains, carrying coal for an electricity plant are given priority over passenger trains. In West Sumatra, the remaining railway line serves the cement plant at Indarung, near Padang, and in North Sumatra, several oil palm and rubber plantations are served by freight trains.
Interesting facts 
Several "last" steam locomotives were built for Indonesia. E1060, a 1966-built rack steam locomotive (Esslingen 5316) is operable in Ambarawa railway museum. BB84, the last Mallet locomotive built for a non-tourist railway (according to Durrant) was built by Nippon Sharyo Keizo Kaisha in 1962 (works number 2007). This locomotive was plinthed in Banda Aceh and survived the December 2004 tsunami. Unfortunately, the locomotive is in a rather poor condition with its valve gear and cylinder pistons missing (as of March 2006).
Although not a locomotive of the state railway system, the former Trangkil 4 (Hunslet 3902), when built in 1971, was the last steam locomotive built in Great Britain. Sadly, this locomotive had been repatriated.
Urban rail and Bus Rapid Transit 
Greater Jakarta 
The only urban rail network in Indonesia is KRL Jabodetabek. However, Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit is scheduled to open 2016 if all goes well. Together with Transjakarta BRT, they comprise the rapid transit network.
Greater Surabaya 
Regional rail functions as commuter rail in Surabaya, so technically there is no urban rail network. However, a dedicated airport line is being contracted, while a network is being mulled.
Preserved locomotives 
Indonesia had various types of locomotives, being the legacy of the many different companies. Surprisingly, only three steam locomotives remain in operable condition, all located in the Ambarawa Railway Museum. On the other hand, static steam locomotive displays are located in the Transportation Museum (under the auspices of the Department of Transportation) in Jakarta's Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park) and Ambarawa Railway Museum (managed by PT Kereta Api) in Central Java. Plinthed locomotives can also be found in most cities and towns. Somewhat surprisingly, few non-locomotive rolling stock were preserved.
Four operatable industrial steam locomotives are present, with two more preserved, at the Cepu Forest Railway. This currently represents the largest concentration of active preserved steam locomotives in Indonesia.
With the Asian economic crisis of 1997, remaining hulks of steam locomotives formerly standing in former depots became valuable for their scrap value, and by 2000, most locomotives not already plinthed or sent to museums were scrapped, presumably illegally.
A list of preserved locomotives is available online 
- In 2010, the island of Kalimantan is to get a 122 km long standard gauge railway for the transport of coal.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rail transport in Indonesia|
Further reading 
- How the Railroad is Modernising Asia, The Advertiser, Adelaide, S. Australia, 22 March 1913. N.B.: The article is of approx. 1,500 words, covering approx. a dozen Asian countries.
- Hamdani, Sylviana (3 February 2010). "Taking a Train Trip Down Memory Lane in Indonesia". Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- Indonesia Railway Company Launches Women-Only Carriages
- Railway Gazette International November 2010, p56
- United States Central Intelligence Agency (June 2, 2005), The World Fact Book: Indonesia. Retrieved June 17, 2005.
- Garratt, Colin. The World Encyclopedia of Locomotives Anness Publishing (London), 2003, p. 47.
- History of Railways in Indonesia
- PT Kereta Api Indonesia (Indonesian Railways) Website (Indonesia)
- Railways Info (Indonesia)
- Jabotabek Train Website
- Jakarta Commuter Railways Routes and Schedules (Indonesia)
- Maps of Indonesian Railway Network (Indonesia)