Train Derailment: Purwokerto, Central Java

Getting around the major islands in Indonesia by train is relatively safe and far more interesting than by air. You have the opportunity of interacting with the locals and you get to see more of the country instead of looking out of a scratched airline portal.

The Dutch built the railway system in Indonesia and the first line in operation was between Semarang and Tanggung, which opened in August 10, 1867. Train crashes and other transport accidents are relatively frequent in the country according to experts and this is because infrastructure has strained to keep pace with population and economic growth.

I venture to say that since that time, there has been more airline ‘accidents’ and airlines delayed because of problems than there have been rail incidents.

According to the various news sources, a crowded carriage of an Indonesian passenger train derailed and plunged into a dry river bed on Tuesday, killing five people and injuring more than 250 others. It appears the accident happened before dawn about 11km west of the town of Purwokerto in Central Java. The train was heading to Jakarta.

I have traveled by train across Java and the other islands and the nearest ‘incident’ I can recall is haggling the price of a drink with a kaki lima at a railway station!.