At present, Indonesia's railways are concentrated on the islands of Sumatra and Java, where some of the 1 067 mm gauge network is electrified. Photo: Andrew Benton.

INDONESIA: Civil works for construction of the first section of the planned trans-Sulawesi railway are expected to start in October with an inauguration ceremony to be attended by President Joko Widodo.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place in Siawung in August 2014 to launch the 145 km Makassar – Pare Pare first phase of the planned network, but since then work has focused on preliminary land clearance and levelling and land acquisition, which can be a source of considerable delay to infrastructure projects in Indonesia.

The railway would be the first on the island of Sulawesi, which is one of the least developed in the country but possesses considerable mineral reserves. It is envisaged that the railway would be used by both passengers and freight, providing a ‘modern rail service’ from 2019, according to Hermanto Dwiatmoko, Director-General for Railways at the Transport Ministry.

The government has also launched a railway education programme in partnership with six higher education institutions in the region, including Haluoleo, Tadulako and Gorontalo State universities. The programme covers the development of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in rail-specific technical disciplines, Hermanto told local media.