Palembang LRT - A provincial transit success story

Sulawesi railway update, opposition mounts for Penang’s three-islands project, the tallest building in Southeast Asia tops out, and more construction and transport news in SE Asia.

Here at Future South East Asia I’ve been working my way through the planned urban rail systems of Southeast Asia. In particular I have been interested in the proposed provincial rail systems. Unfortunately, there are not many operating outside of the capital cities. The Phuket light rail was recently cancelled, and every other featured rail system is mired in doubt and delays.

Palembang stands out as an exception to the rest of Southeast Asia. The Palembang Light Rail Transit was built to serve the 2018 Asian Games, which the city co-hosted with Jakarta. Amazingly, it was operating within 18 days of the games opening, and built in a reasonable cost when compared to similar railways.

I visited Palembang in September 2019, and this week’s article has some photos of the light rail from that visit. I rode the railway at different times of the day to get a feel for it, and to see what is happening along the line. As this is the only planned line for the city, Palembang might end up having a long corridor of towers along the line. I would like to go back in the future and see how it changes the city. With the airport at one end, and a major shopping centre at one of the stops, you could end up living on the line like people live off the BTS lines in Bangkok.

While the ridership numbers are lower than projected, the fact that it was built on time and without a major budget blowout is at least a construction success story for Indonesia.

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