The Head of the Bali Provincial Transportation Service, IGW Samsi Gunarta, has announced that a final decision will be revealed about an electric train network in 2023. Gunarta held a series of press appointments this week, sharing details of the proposed creation of an electric train service from Bali Airport to Seminyak. He explained that a feasibility study is underway and that a decision will be announced next year.
The aim of the train line would be to ease congestion on Bali’s busy roads. It would help remove vehicles from the streets and offer local people and visitors an easy and direct route to the island’s holiday hotspots. Although following a different route and serving a different area, the train line would complement infrastructure developments like the Gilimanuk-Mengwi and Bali Mandara Toll Roads, that have been designed to divert traffic from areas prone to congestion.
The project would involve ‘big money’ and huge infrastructural developments, but Gunarta appeared excited by the opportunity. He explained ‘We are still in the feasibility study, we have to think about whether we can get passengers or not. The construction target is to [secure] financial closing in 2023 [so that there is] clarity, who will finance, how much will be financed, and how the operational costs will work’.
Gunarta shared how the development of an electric train demonstrates Bali’s commitment to diversifying growth and a shift towards renewable energy across the island. He said, ‘The situation is that we can no longer maximize road infrastructure in urban areas in Bali. So like it or not, we have to use other transportation systems’.
Similar train systems are already in place in big Indonesian cities like Jakarta and Medan. The services are widely used, and the public has a fair level of trust in the reliability of the service. Something that Gunarta wants to see happen in Bali too. He explained, ‘Now people don’t want to move if the transportation is not reliable. Whatever the form of transportation must be more reliable and on time. Otherwise, people will choose to use private vehicles’.
Gunarta laid out the potential route for the electric train service. The mainline would run from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport to central Seminyak in Badung Regency. There are plans to create a loop that would stop off at other key destinations.
He explained, ‘We also have a loop from the airport to the city via Central Parking. Then to Renon, Sanur, Benoa, and back to the airport. So, there is one more loop that is being studied. For now, there are two tracks that are being prepared in the early stages, but maybe we will work on one track first. We will see the progress first’.
The results of the feasibility study will need to be heavily scrutinized. Questions will be raised about the environmental impact of such a development and its effect on local people. If communities were to be displaced or agricultural land forfeited, there would be further hurdles for the provincial government to tackle than financing alone, as Gunarta has suggested.
The news comes just days after Governor Wayan Koster attended a public event showcasing his provincial government’s commitment to the transition to electric vehicles. Governor Koster has said that by 2023 he wants to see Bali maximizing the use of electric vehicles, including the use of electric mopeds. He has already welcomed a fleet of electric cars ahead of the G20 Summit. He hopes to promote the use of electric vehicles to the island’s younger generation.
While some infrastructure is in place to support the use of electric vehicles island-wide, there is a long way to go. Governor Koster announced during the event that he wants to see Bali become an ‘Emissions Free Province’ by 2060, which with sufficient investment and development, is a reasonable target.
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