PT Kereta Api (Persero) (Railway Corporation, LLC) is the major operator of public railways in Indonesia. It is completely owned by the state, and pays track access charges to the government. The other operator is PT Kereta Api Jabotabek, which operates electrified commuter service in the Jakarta metropolitan area. PT Kereta Api Jabotabek was spun off from the Jabotabek Division of PT Kereta Api (Persero) on August 14, 2008.
The liberal Dutch government of the era was then reluctant to build its own railway, preferring to give a free rein to private enterprises. However, private railways could not provide the expected return of investment (even NIS required some financial assistance from the government), and the Dutch Ministry of Colonies finally approved a state railway system, the Staatsspoorwegen (State Railway), extending from Buitenzorg (now Bogor) in the west, to Surabaya in the east. Construction began from both ends, the first line (from Surabaya) being opened on May 16, 1878, and both cities were connected by 1894.
Private enterprises did not completely get out of the picture, and at least 15 light railway companies operated in Java. These companies operated as "steam tram companies", but despite the name, were better described as regional secondary lines.
As befits a colonial enterprise, most railway lines in Indonesia had a dual purpose: economic and strategic. In fact, a condition for the financial assistance for the NIS was that the company build a railway line to Ambarawa, which had an important fort named Willem I for the Dutch king. The first state railway line was built through the mountains on the southern part of Java, instead of the flat regions on the north, for a similar strategic reason. The state railway in Java connected Anyer on the western coast of the island, to Banyuwangi on the eastern coast.
In Sumatra, railways were first used for military purposes, with a railway line connecting Banda Aceh and its port of Uleelhee in 1876. The line, first built to a 1067 mm gauge was later regauged to 750 mm and extended south. This line was only transferred to the Ministry of Colonies from the Ministry of War in January 1, 1916, following the relative pacification of Aceh.
Other state railway lines in Sumatra were located in the Minangkabau area (built between 1891-1894) and the Lampung-South Sumatra region (1914-1932). Both lines were mainly used for conveyance of coal from inland mines to ports.
Between July 1922 and 1930, a 47 km-long railway line operated in South Sulawesi. This line was to be extended to North Sulawesi, as part of a massive project of railway construction in Borneo and Sulawesi, connection of separate railway systems in Sumatra and electrification of the main lines in Java. The Great Depression of 1929 put paid to these plans.
During the Japanese occupation between 1942 and 1945, the different railway lines in Java were managed as one entity. The Sumatra systems, being under the administration of a different branch of the Japanese armed forces, remained separate.
The occupiers also converted the standard gauge (1435 mm) lines in Java into 1067 mm, thereby resolving the dual gauge issue. This was not an actual "problem" as there was not much transfer of materials between the systems, and much of the 1435 mm system had been fitted with a third rail by 1940, creating a mixed-gauge railway.
In Sumatra, the separate systems were similarly taken over, named Kereta Api Soematera Oetara Negara Repoeblik Indonesia in North Sumatra and Kereta Api Negara Repoeblik Indonesia in South and West Sumatra.
On the other hand, the Dutch created its own combined railway system to manage the lines located on its occupied territory, the Verenigd Spoorwegbedrijf (Combined Railways). By the time of Dutch recognition of Indonesian independence, the VS had most railway lines under its management, though not all were in operation.
With Indonesia's full independence in 1949, the separate systems (except the Deli Railway) were combined into the Djawatan Kereta Api. Non-state railway systems in Java retained their paper existence until 1958, when all railway lines in Indonesia were nationalized, including the Deli Railway, thereby creating the Perusahaan Negara Kereta Api (PNKA: State Railway Corporation).
In September 15, 1971, PNKA was reorganised into Perusahaan Jawatan Kereta Api (Railway Bureau Corporation), in turn reorganised into Perumka (Perusahaan Umum Kereta Api: Public Railway Corporation) in January 2, 1991. Perumka was transformed into PT Kereta Api (Persero) on June 1, 1999.
The headquarters of the state railway system, since Dutch colonial days, had been located in Bandung, West Java. Private railway companies were headquartered elsewhere, in Semarang, Tegal, Surabaya and Medan.
Much of the branch lines constructed in the colonial era has been lifted up or abandoned in the 1980s. No major railway construction has since taken place, however, many of the busiest lines have been double tracked, and this is still ongoing. It is planned to complete the double tracking of all main lines in Java by 2025.
Recently double-tracked lines include:
Double tracking is in progress between:
Significant projects being considered include:
Future expansion plans of the railway will include linking of existing railway lines in Sumatra from Aceh to Lampung via both west and east coasts of the island. Railway lines are also planned to be built on the currently railwayless islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi
The numbering scheme of locomotives dated from the Japanese occupation, using a combination of letters and numbers. A letter or a combination of letters is used to denote the wheel arrangement (currently there are C, D, BB and CC types), and a three-digit number is used to denote the class (20x for classes with electric transmission and 30x for classes with hydraulic or mechanical transmission), starting from 0. A two- or three-digit number shows the individual number, starting from 01.
The steam locomotive classification was directly derived from Japanese practice. Tank locomotives were numbered from the 10's, while tender locomotives from the 50's. Letter combinations were used for articulated locomotives (in the case of Indonesia these were Mallets).
Electric locomotives in Indonesia had always been a minority, and no new electric locomotives had been acquired in the last 70 years. However, electric multiple units have been imported from Japan and elsewhere since 1976. These are operated by the Jabotabek commuter transport division of the PT Kereta Api, which has been spun off in August 2008.
PT Kereta Api is a major customer of the local railway equipment industry PT Inka, using passenger coaches, freight wagons and electric multiple units made by the Madiun-based company.
PT Kereta Api's diesel-electric locomotives are mostly US- or Canadian- built, while the diesel-hydraulics are mostly German. Electric multiple units are Japanese and Dutch. Local industry is capable of building multiple units, both diesel and electric.
Other maintenance facilities are present in Manggarai (Jakarta), Tegal and Gubeng (Surabaya). These are used to repair coaches and wagons.
Locomotive depots are located in Medan, Tebingtinggi, Padang, Padang Panjang, Kertapati, Tanjungkarang, Rangkasbitung, Tanahabang (Jakarta), Jatinegara (Jakarta), Bandung, Banjar, Cibatu, Cirebon, Purwokerto, Cilacap, Kutoarjo, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Cepu, Madiun, Sidotopo (Surabaya), and Jember.
The Indonesian government has recently created the Directorate General of Railways, directly answerable to the Minister of Transportation. This is expected to improve the railway's position vis-a-vis other transportation modes.
The parliament of Indonesia has finished an amendment to the current legislation, which is to allow greater role for private companies and regional governments in providing railway services. However, as yet there are no private operators of railway services