After the hype during its opening months, the popularity of this 3.7 trillion IDR investment is slowly evaporating. This airport link has not completely become the most favourite transport mode amongst air passengers. According to PT Railink, the average occupancy is only at 30% of the total capacity.
The capacity of Railink has been improved over the year. By today, with the 6-car Bombardier EA203 type, it can accommodate 272 seating passengers in one go. With the frequency of 30 minutes, the maximum passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) touches 544. Even though this number is relatively low compared to other airport links, for example KLIA Express (624 pphpd), Airport Express Hong Kong (6216 pphpd), AREX Express Incheon (1824 pphpd) or Heathrow Express (1360 pphpd), it has potential to significantly reduce the stress of congestion on the airport spine road. If we assume 70% occupancy on every journey, Railink would be able to capture 23,610 passengers per day or 8.6 million per year, by disregarding non-passenger riders and Peak Hour Passenger factor at the airport. If the total origin-destination passengers at SHIA is 85% of 63 million annual passengers, Railink would be able contribute 16% shares of transport mode to and from the airport. It is considerably far better than the current share at around 5 to 7%. We can conclude that the train capacity is sufficient, but the share of Railink is unfortunately still below the line.
There is assumption that the main reason of SHIA Railink’s under-performance is also due to its fare, but it is not. Railink offers a competitive price of 70,000 IDR for one-way journey. DAMRI Bus, in the other hand, would cost 40,000 IDR between the airport and Gambir Station. That makes Railink is only 75% more expensive. In Hong Kong, the price to take a one-way journey with Airport Express is 115 HKD, 155% higher compare to average Hong Kong Airport Busses fare of around 40-50 HKD. The other extreme examples are Shanghai Maglev that charges 5 times than normal metro line to Longyang road station and KLIA Express with 450% (55 MYR) more expensive than airport bus/ coaches that only costs 10 MYR.
However, what should also be considered parallel with the price is the journey time. The more expensive price of airport links could worth 3 to 8 times extra speed from the slower mode. Even though Railink offers a fix duration of 46 minutes, it still has not yet reached the above-mentioned range. The issue does not only lie into the train speed, but also the way to get to the station, which brings us to the biggest concern and gap: connectivity.
Dedicated Airport Trains typically connects main transport hub in the city to airports’ terminal or Ground Transportation Center (GTC). Airport Express in Hong Kong, for example, connects Hong Kong International Airport at the arrival level with the main Central station in Hong Kong island, where the passengers have other options to change the transport modal including bus, metro and ferry. The Airport Express also makes stop at Kowloon station, which has been planned and recently opened for High Speed Train station to Mainland China. In Kuala Lumpur, KLIA Express train brings passengers from main terminal at KLIA1 and KLIA2 Gateway (landside commercial area and GTC) to KL Sentral, the main intermodal hub in the city. From here, the passenger will be directly offered other options of transport modal such as LRT, bus and intercity train.
Railink, however, attempts to connect Jakarta city center and the airport. But the key to minimize walking distance and level changes between transport modal is still missing. At the airport, Railink train stations are not connected to any of the three terminals. Instead, air passengers are required to change to the landside Airport People Mover (APM), so called Skytrain, to reach the closest APM station to terminal building. Ironically, from here, air passengers still not yet reach either the departure or arrival level. Worse still, from APM Terminal 1 and 2 stations, air passengers have to cross the kerb, which raises safety issue.
Similar concern occurs at the station in the city. The current main Railink station, Sudirman (BNI City) have not yet offered intermodal connectivity. Hence, without knowing the future expansion plan, the presence of this station feels like a random decision. Manggarai and Bekasi, in the other hand, offers better intermodality to commuter train line, but still not the best option for non-Jakartans. Unfortunately, due to existing capacity and security system at Gambir station, Railink has not yet picked up riders from here, leaving the biggest potential source of passengers: Those who are coming from other cities with regional KAI’s trains.
Text by Wahyu (#donotsettle)
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