INDONESIA’S Ministry of Communications has launched a project to develop the rail network on the island of Sumatra. At the beginning of June the ministry commissioned a comprehensive study and master plan from a team of consultants led by Mott MacDonald. Due for completion next July, the study being funded by the Asian Development Bank is also intended to identify opportunities for private sector investment.

The 2000 km long island has three separate 1067mm gauge rail networks, and a 500 km 750 mm gauge line in the north disused since the 1960s. The consultants will look at options for linking the various networks to create a Trans-Sumatra corridor from Banda Aceh to Panjang. Also included in the study is an assessment of the work required to revive the disused 200 km east-west line built by the Japanese during World War II to haul coal across the island from Pandang to Dumai. Depending on the state of the remaining infrastructure, this could form a central link in the future network.

Other consultants working on the study are PT Inti Era Cipta and PT Biro Insinyua Exata. Mott MacDonald will be responsible for several aspects of the work, including civil engineering, signalling & communications, railway operations management, private sector involvement, financial economics and regional planning.