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‘Whoosh’ bullet train wins praise for affordability and other enviable features: ‘Wish the US had more trains like this’

“It looks great.”

"It looks great."

Photo Credit: TikTok

Since it launched its first bullet train in October, Indonesia has received praise for the magnificent high-speed rail.

In November, CNA (@channelnewsasia) correspondent Kiki Siregar documented a trip from Jakarta to Bandung on TikTok.

@channelnewsasia What is it like to go on board Whoosh, Indonesia's first high speed rail? Here's our correspondent Kiki Siregar's experience. #whoosh #indonesia #highspeedrail ♬ original sound – CNA

Siregar touted the train’s timeliness, cleanliness, and televisions and noted the smooth ride came with an affordable discounted price — about 15 Singapore dollars (about $11) for a one-way ticket.

After the 46-minute trip, which featured speeds up to 347 kilometers (about 215 miles) per hour, Siregar said passengers could get downtown from Tegalluar station via bus or taxi.

A couple of commenters shared their wishes for other countries to build similar high-speed rails.

“I wish we have it in Australia!” one wrote. “Maybe, next century!”

Another said: “Wish the US Had more trains like this.”

In June, the Australian government announced it was committing 500 million Australian dollars (about 335 million U.S. dollars) to plan its first high-speed line along the east coast, with stops set for Sydney and Newcastle in New South Wales. 

As NPR reported, the American government announced Dec. 8 that it would spend nearly $6.1 billion to help push high-speed rail projects in California and Nevada toward the finish line. It marked another round of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Brightline West — a 218-mile track from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles area — and another line to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The United States has just one higher-speed rail, on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which runs from Washington, D.C., to Boston with stops in Philadelphia and New York, among other cities, along the way. But its top speed is just 150 miles per hour, not even close to what China has put together in Southeast Asia, with side-by-side trains dueling at around 217 miles per hour.

“It won’t change overnight,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg told reporters. “But within a few years you’re going to see some real noticeable improvements and some very exciting things including — before the end of this decade, if all goes well — the experience of true high-speed rail on American soil.”

The stakes are high.

The New York Times reported Australia’s high-speed rail push would help it reduce its carbon pollution to net zero by 2050, “a goal that it will struggle to meet if domestic flight and freight by road continue to be the most important ways of ferrying people and goods between Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.”

The High Speed Rail Alliance — an American nonprofit “working for stronger communities and a healthier environment through the development of fast, frequent and affordable trains” — says “no other mode of travel has the flexibility to serve diverse, dispersed markets and spur a massive shift from driving.” It extols the virtues of trains, including energy efficiency, pollution reduction, shorter travel times, and more walkable and interconnected cities.

“It looks great,” one user wrote of the Indonesian model.

Another said: “Good job Indonesia! Well done.”

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