Good for Indonesia to scrap high-speed rail project

It is good news that Indonesia is opting out of plans to build a high-speed rail in favour of a cheaper option ("Jakarta scraps high-speed rail project"; last Saturday). The money saved can be spent on development schemes, which are in greater need.

Having a high-speed rail requires a high degree of engineering skill and meticulous track maintenance. Good skilled manpower is not easy to get, and the safe and ongoing maintenance of the track is a challenge, given the shortage of skilled labour and the threat of terror attacks.

A high-speed rail can also be considered unnecessary in the era of tablets, smartphones and the Internet, which reduce the need for a person to be physically present.

In countries that struggle to fund basic development schemes to alleviate poverty, investment in a high-speed rail is... socially counter-productive.

Businessmen and people who need to travel urgently can opt for air travel instead.

In countries that struggle to fund basic development schemes to alleviate poverty, investment in a high-speed rail is not only an avoidable waste but also socially counter-productive.

M. V. Ramani

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Good for Indonesia to scrap high-speed rail project'. Print Edition | Subscribe