Palembang is the capital of South Sumatra Province and the ninth largest city in Indonesia with a population of 1.8 million (400 km2). As the centre of the 7th century Srivijaya kingdom, the city is one of the oldest in South East Asia.
Although originally planned as a monorail line, construction of a higher capacity system began in 2015, stimulated by Palembang being a host city of the 2018 Asian Games. The Palembang LRT is of light metro standard and is operated by the national rail company PT KAI. The elevated line connects Sultan Mahmud Badarudin II Airport to the Asian Games site at Jakabaring. Operations commenced in Aug 2018, making this the first metro-style system in Indonesia. Irregular services operated until Nov 2018 when full-day services were launched. The 23.4 km line uses 1067 mm gauge with third-rail power supply. The Indonesian-built PT INKA trains operate in three-car units with 20-minute frequencies.
Bandara – DJKA; 23.4 km, 13 stations
- 29 Nov 2018: Bandara – DJKA (full-day service launched from 05:00-22:00) (23.4 km)
LRT Palembang (Official Website)
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Palembang Metro at Wikipedia
In Dec. 2018, Craig Moore reports from Palembang:
Palembang is one of the two great historic cities of Indonesia (Yogyakarta being the other) although it is today a modern city and the second largest in Sumatra. Although being only the ninth largest city in Indonesia, it is the first in the country to operate a Metro - the result of the city co-hosting the 2018 Asian Games. Although there was some interest in the Indonesian media, it is fair to say that a rather strange, underwhelming fanfare has greeted the arrival of the country’s first Metro. This is because of a splintered opening, whereby the line ran briefly for the Asian Games in August 18 for athletes and was plagued by technical difficulties, and then subsequently it offered a very limited operation until ‘full’ service (see below) began at the end of November. Moreover, the line is branded as LRT, even though it has all the attributes of a Light Metro. I am sure when the Jakarta MRT opens next March, there will be much more media exposure.
Line: The single line is 22.3km (revenue Km) and runs on elevated viaduct (1067 gauge-third rail power), hosting 13 stations on its weaving route from the airport (Bandara) in a south-easterly direction to DJKA. Bandara station is attached to the airport terminal via a large connector building, although signage in the terminal for arriving passengers is limited and even outside (where access to the connector building is gained) the signage brings confusion. This station is different from all others on the line with stub platforms and a bright interesting canvas roof design.
The line runs very slowly as it leaves the airport in an eastward direction before negotiating a sharp curve to head southwest to Asrama Haji (5.5km), followed by a further slow turn to set the line on its south eastward trajectory. The line is very very slow in this initial section despite having few stations - Punti Kayu (woods/copse) is 8.4km from the airport. Station gaps diminish from here as urban density grows but speeds on the straight section do not increase greatly and slow down again around the Demang-Dishub kink. It is here when the line has a more truly urban feel and offers some interesting views, compared to the semi-rural feel in the north. The viaduct runs close to buildings and is higher in this central section with Cinde and Ampera the most central stations. This section also brings a little speed to the running before the line crosses the Musi next to the famed road bridge with good views of the river activity. Urban density then again diminishes (as does the train speed) as the line runs to the sporting facilities around Jakabaring. There are long dwell times at most stations and the entire journey takes 1h02. With average speeds of 22kph, this is a very slow service, the line is quite juddery and the ‘flange squeal’ on the bends is deafening at times.
Stations: With the exception of the airport station as mentioned above, all others are identical structures with ground-level ticket hall supported by broad pillars, a ticket office (no machines), rudimentary turnstile barriers and basic directional signage. Escalators or stairs lead to the side platforms. These are quite narrow and basic with limited seating (but more than enough for current passenger numbers), a basic line map and RTI board - there are no station name plates on the platform. The RTI board does not show next train but every train departure, such is the limited service. Platforms are built for five-car trains and so the current three-car service stops at the front end of the platform (to note that trains crawl into stations very slowly). Stations have smart bowed roofs, supported by beams painted in different bright colours. These colours add something to what is generally a quite bright, but basic and unadorned environment. The stations are supported by an army of staff and security - and at most stations these are more numerous than passengers.
Trains: The Palembang LRT uses Indonesian built PT INKA stock, operated as articulated three-car units, the middle car being slightly longer than the end carriages with luggage racks. The trains have a white exterior with black streamlined frontage and blue and orange stripes below the side windows. The interior has bright blue cushioned seating, with rudimentary strip map above the door (this has coloured dots below the station name representing the colours of the station support beams. There is also a basic LCD screen at carriage ends which plays loud stirring music and there is also a little first aid cupboard! Electronic and audio information is in Bahasa only. The trains are bright and clean, no doubt helped by the fact that there are few passengers and that each train has a cleaning crew who wipe doors, walls and floors as the train moves along the route.
Operations: The LRT is operated by the national rail company, PT Kereta Api and is maintained by an army of staff at stations and on trains - as these are Indonesians, they are naturally humble, warm and friendly. Services run from 0615 to 1800 (early finish) and have irregular headways – these normally being around 35mins, although there are some shorter headways (20mins) in the afternoon, but overall there are only 22 services in each direction, each day. Tickets cost 10000 rupiah to/from Bandara and 5000 between other stations. In addition, passengers have to purchase a 25000 Rupiah travel card. This means for the occasional user, a one-way ticket from the airport costs 35000 RPH (€2.12) which is very expensive by Indonesian standards (a Jakarta suburban rail ticket is approx €0.20). On most of the route there were few passengers and a combination of several factors (speed/infrequency/cost) contribute to these very low patronage rates.
Summary: A new metro and a new metro country - it is a compliment to Indonesia that it is finally developing its urban rail environment and I hope that the Palembang system eventually becomes a robust, well used system. But at the moment this is sadly quite a woeful Metro. It is incredibly slow, infrequent, expensive, underused and lacks any atmosphere or elegance as a system.
2016 © Robert Schwandl (UrbanRail.Net)