Asset life improvement of rail infrastructure

This project aimed to conduct preliminary activities identifying critical issues in Indonesia’s rail infrastructure, in preparation for a larger project addressing the asset life extension, safety and efficiency of rail transport in Indonesia. The project had several objectives:

  • Identifying critical infrastructure issues that must be addressed to operate rolling stock safely and efficiently.
  • Outlining and prioritising research projects to address identified issues.
  • Driving collaboration between Indonesian and Australian partners to jointly develop research addressing common critical issues in the passenger rail network.
  • Formulating a framework for AIC Infrastructure Cluster activity within rail transportation.

The project team from the Institute of Railway Technology held discussions with researchers from the Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember Surabaya and representatives of the East Java Province Department of Transportation, the Indonesian rail operator Kereta Api and the planning and development team at the recently commissioned port, Teluk Lamong. The discussions allowed an overview of infrastructure plans in Surabaya and the challenges faced.

The project outlined the state of the Indonesian economy, and the role of East Java Province within it. Researchers highlighted the flow-on economic effects of transport efficiency. As Surabaya is the economic centre of the East Java Province, the effectiveness of its transport infrastructure is crucial to economic growth. Central to this discussion was the new port at Teluk Lamong.

The issue

The city of Surabaya is serviced by a number of ports, the largest and most congested of which is Tanjung Perak. This port is operating far above its designed capacity, as is the infrastructure linking it to the road and rail network of East Java. The result is that getting freight through this port is a slow and expensive exercise. This bottleneck is having a significant negative impact on economic growth.

To relieve this situation, a large new container port is being constructed at Teluk Lamong. This port is being built in five phases over 15 years. Phase one has been completed, allowing it to handle a small volume of domestic and international freight. Future development will see the port grow in capacity and be connected by dedicated road, rail and monorail links. The main rail link to the port will be via the currently inactive Indro Line.

Presently the only method for moving freight on the land side is via a congested, undivided road that passes through heavily populated areas. This road presents a significant obstacle to the port operating at maximum efficiency. The project outlined strategies for better connecting Teluk Lamong.

The options

The first strategy proposed is a combination of road, rail and dedicated monorail. This approach has several advantages, namely decentralising the distribution of freight, and avoiding the high cost of purchasing or reclaiming land close to the port. When the system reaches maturity it is expected to be faster and cheaper than road transport direct from the port.

The next phase of port development includes building an elevated roadway connecting the port directly to an existing tollway to the west. This project faces several challenges, mainly related to cost and land acquisition, and the existing tollway is already near full capacity. It is expected that congestion will mean this method is not viable as the main method of connection in the long term. The road would be tolled in such a way as to promote the use of rail over road transport. The design of the roadway is dependent on the capacity of the rail infrastructure, as the tonnage that cannot go by rail must go by road. Therefore, the capacity of the rail infrastructure must be determined before finalising the design of the roadway.

The second strategy is to consider an Automated Container Transport (ACT) system based on a passenger monorail, with cars redesigned to accommodate shipping containers. The monorail would run along the coast to existing freight depots near Tanjung Perak. Five stations along the route would allow containers to be transferred to road. This is an attractive option due to the relatively low cost, smaller land footprint and reduced land acquisition. However, the system would be limited, as monorails are not suited to bulk freight transport. It would also feed freight into already congested and over-capacity depots.

The inactive Indro line is planned to be the primary rail connection to the port. Two options for this are being considered. The first would be a direct link from the port to the Indro line. This is the most expensive option, as it would require building a bridge and reclaiming land. The second option includes building a dedicated roadway to an inland ‘dry port’ close to Teluk Lamong. Trucks would move containers from the terminal to the dry port, where they would be processed and delivered by rail to satellite distribution centres. This shows promise as it reduces the cost to the customer with only a moderate increase in waiting time. However, it would involve double handling containers.


Passenger and freight railway services are becoming major transportation modes to overcome road congestion in Indonesia. Implementing state-of-the-art practices in rail planning, design and maintenance will be vital. The port at Teluk Lamong is central to the economic growth of the region, but connections to the port are yet to be established. The capacity of rail infrastructure will be key, but a brief inspection of wheel and rail profiles has revealed potential issues with maintenance, as well as mixed rail grades across the network. This will have an impact on overall network capacity.

Central to all strategies is establishing the maximum allowable tonnage on the rail network. This is dependent on rail infrastructure, rolling stock, and maintenance and monitoring regimens. The network’s capacity is central to the design of both road and monorail systems and critical to Teluk Lamong’s ability to reduce the import-export bottleneck in Surabaya.