'Sleepy cricket' subway trains bug Jakarta boss

Jakarta's acting governor Sumarsono declared the design for the new MRT trains unsatisfactory as they looked like "crickets".
Jakarta's acting governor Sumarsono declared the design for the new MRT trains unsatisfactory as they looked like "crickets".PHOTO: TWITTER/@MRTJAKARTA
Jakarta has some of the world's worst jams, with hordes of new vehicles hitting the roads every day and little in the way of public transport beyond pollution-belching, ageing buses.
Jakarta has some of the world's worst jams, with hordes of new vehicles hitting the roads every day and little in the way of public transport beyond pollution-belching, ageing buses.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Jakarta's dream of finally getting an underground railway to ease its chronic road traffic has been shunted into a siding after the city's leader reportedly rejected a design for trains he says look like sleepy crickets.

The Indonesian capital has some of the world's worst jams, with hordes of new vehicles hitting the roads every day and little in the way of public transport beyond pollution-belching, ageing buses.

More than two decades after the idea was first mooted, work finally got under way on the metropolis of 10 million people's first underground system in 2013.

A consortium of Japanese and Indonesian companies are building the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system and the first line is due to open in 2019.

However Jakarta's acting governor Sumarsono has thrown an unexpected spanner into the works, declaring this week that the initial design for trains was unsatisfactory as they looked like "crickets".

Images on the MRT consortium website showed green trains, with front coaches that looked like the head of an insect.

"The design should look dashing, but this one looks like a cricket that is asleep," Sumarsono, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was quoted as saying in local media.

"If possible, I want quite a sporty design." Newspaper Kompas reported that redesigning the trains could cost an additional 64 billion rupiah (S$6.8 million), and delay the start of operations by at least a year.

The consortium declined requests to comment. But after his remarks sparked anger online, Sumarsono insisted that he was not calling for a total overhaul of the trains, only that he preferred a second, more aerodynamic design that was also presented to him.