Railway Day in Indonesia Date in the current year: September 28, 2024

Railway Day in Indonesia Railway Day in Indonesia is observed annually on September 28. It commemorates the day in 1945 when Indonesian nationalists took over the railway system of Java controlled by the Japanese army and created the Railway Bureau of the Republic of Indonesia.

The history of rail transport in Indonesia dates back to the colonial era. In 1864, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies ordered to construct the first railway line in Central Java. It began operations three years later, making Indonesia the second country in Asia to establish a rail transport system, after India. The total length of the line was 25 kilometers.

At first, the Dutch government entrusted railway construction to private enterprises. However, private railway companies failed to provide the expected return on investments, prompting the Dutch Ministry of Colonies to establish the government-owned railway company, State Railways and Tramways in the Netherlands Indies (Staatsspoorwegen), in 1875.

By the 1920s, most cities and towns in Jawa were connected by rail, with branches and tramways connecting sugar plantations to factories. However, the Great Depression made it impossible to construct new railway lines in Sulawesi and Borneo, connect the existing lines in Sumatra, and electrify the lines in Jawa.

In 1942, Indonesia was occupied by the Empire of Japan. During the occupation, state and private railways in Jawa were controlled by the 16th Army of the Imperial Japanese Army, and Sumatran railways were controlled by the 25th Army. Occupational authorities seized many Indonesian locomotives and transported them to Burma and Malaya, as well as converted the 1,435 mm wide standard gauge into the 1,067 mm wide Cape gauge.

On August 15, 1945, Japan announced its capitulation. Two days later, Indonesian nationalists declared the independence of Indonesia. By the end of September, freedom fighters took over the infrastructure that used to be controlled by the Japanese military, including railways.

On September 28, 1945, the revolutionary government of Indonesia established the Railway Bureau of the Republic of Indonesia (Djawatan Kereta Api Repoeblik Indonesia). It was the first public railways operator in independent Indonesia. The anniversary of its establishment is now celebrated in Indonesia as Railway Day.

After the end of the Indonesian Revolution and the international recognition of Indonesia’s independence in 1949, the Bureau took over the railways that had been controlled by the Dutch during the war. Private railway systems in Java de jure existed until 1958, when all railways in Indonesia were nationalized.

The Railway Bureau of the Republic of Indonesia has changed its name and status several times since its establishment. Currently, it is a state-owned enterprise named the Indonesian Railways Company (PT Kereta Api Indonesia, abbreviated as PT KAI or simply KAI).

PT Kai is the sole public railways operator in Indonesia. It operates local, regional, and intercity trains. Rapid transit and light rail systems in Jakarta, as well as the Soekarno—Hatta Airport Skytrain, are operated by other enterprises.

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Railway Day in Indonesia, holidays in Indonesia, Indonesian railways, rail transport in Indonesia. PT KAI