The Railbus Kertalaya is a daily train service linking Palembang’s Kertapati Railway Station with Indralaya Railway Station, nearby the popular Universitas Sriwijaya (UNSRI) Indralaya Campus. It is the first railbus service in Indonesia and the only train to operate on this new branch line, originally meant to provide as an alternative to get to UNSRI Indralaya Campus. However, from the initial two return services a day at the service’s launch, the Railbus Kertalaya today only provides one pair of trains daily.
The Railbus Kertalaya‘s name is derived from its route – plying between Kertapati and Indralaya.
Demand for the train service is low as there is now a frequent dedicated Trans Musi BRT service (Koridor Aglomerasi Indralaya) shuttling directly between UNSRI Palembang Campus and UNSRI Indralaya Campus during the day time.
In order to catch this train, I Grabbed directly from Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport after touching down from Singapore, a road journey which took almost 2 hours thanks to the pothole-filled Palembang roads.
The Indralaya Railway Station entrance is actually from across the road via a pedestrian bridge – passengers must cross this said overhead bridge to the station as it leads directly to the ticket hall. If you are on the station side, you have to either cross the road to the opposite side to get on the bridge, or walk around the station compound, enter via the platform area and walk back towards the entrance to buy your ticket.
Purchase your ticket from the ticket counter. Tickets are sold only 2 hours prior to departure.
My ticket for the trip back to Palembang’s Kertapati station. A flat fare of Rp.3,000 (S$0.28) applies for the Railbus Kertalaya train service.
The timetable of the Railbus Kertalaya as seen on the ticket counter window.
The “fare gates” at Indralaya station. Once you have purchased your ticket, feel free to walk on through. Tickets are only checked on board the Railbus Kertalaya after departure.
A pull-up banner of the Railbus Kertalaya service.
Indralaya station has a rather spacious waiting hall.
It even has a garden in the middle of it.
Once you have walked over to the other end of the hall, go through the doors and continue walking to the platform.
Hello there, Railbus Kertalaya.
The buffer stop for the end of the line at Indralaya station.
The view of the main road of Indralaya (Jl. Lintas Tengah) from Indralaya station.
The Railbus Kertalaya ready for her passengers.
The Kertalaya signature on the top corner of the railbus.
The typical destination board for the Railbus Kertalaya.
As the Railbus Kertalaya is designed to cater to both high and low platforms, an retractable step can be found just before the train doors to allow easy access from low platforms.
The Railbus Kertalaya uses the Jacobs bogie – a single bogie in between each train car, sharing both train cars’ loads.
As such, the 3-car Railbus Kertalaya has just 4 bogies instead of 6.
The overview of Indralaya station, with the very empty car park.
Another shot of the Railbus Kertalaya.
Boarding the Railbus Kertalaya.
The interior of the Railbus Kertalaya.
The Railbus Kertalaya uses a different numbering system, with the prefix RB instead of the usual K3 2 for third class DMUs.
I’m assuming that RB08201 is split into:
- RB: Railbus
- 08: Manufactured in 2008
- 2: Diesel Motive Power
- 01: Car 1
with the middle and last cars bearing the numbers RB08202 and RB08203 respectively. But I may be wrong.
The overall map of Divisi Regional III (Divre III), from Kertapati to Lubuk Linggau.
WiFi is provided free of charge on the Railbus Kertalaya.
Each router on board the train has a different suffix. Connect to the one that has the strongest signal to you.
A well-stocked first aid kit is available on board.
A fire extinguisher is available in every train car.
The gangway on board the Railbus Kertalaya.
Doors are centrally controlled by the driver or the conductor. However, a switch is present at the side of the train doors to open each door individually in emergency situations or for operational requirements.
Departing from Indralaya station.
However, I didn’t know that there was another typical PT KAI-looking Indralaya station a short distance away after the newish-looking initial yellow-gray Indralaya station. My guess is that this station houses the operation and signalling equipment for this branch line as none were seen at the boarding Indralaya station.
The typical scenery on the Indralaya branch line.
Merging with the mainline linking Kertapati (Palembang) with Prabumulih, Lubuk Linggau and Tanjung Karang (Bandar Lampung).
A signal box at the junction of the Indralaya line.
From here on, the journey to Kertapati is on a double-tracked line with trains running on the right, as per the historical Dutch arrangement.
The typical scenery on the way to Kertapati.
Approaching Simpang station.
The Railbus Kertalaya made a stop here for about 20 minutes due to a supposedly oncoming cargo train. However, the cargo train never passed, and with the crossing cancelled, the train departed Simpang after the supposed arrival time at Kertapati station – almost 20 minutes late.
I first thought that this was the train blocking the line, but no locomotives were in sight – I doubt these wagons moved here on their own.
A new station under construction between Simpang and Kertapati.
Passing under Jl. Mayjen Yusuf Singedekane, a bypass road which connects to the Musi II Bridge.
Some typical houses on approach to Kertapati station.
Ugh, what are you guys doing here too?
(A total of 150 CC206 locomotives were purchased in two batches, built between 2012 and 2016, and are now a common, boring sight on Java island.)
Passing by the Kertapati Locomotive Depot.
The rescue train parked on a siding.
The Rail Clinic, also parked on the same siding. Interestingly, the Rail Clinic bears a travel class of Bisnis (K2) instead of something for its own.
Oh yay, finally a CC201 in the old orange livery.
And here’s a rare sight in Indonesia – a CC204. Most of these locomotives are based in Kertapati depot (GE C20EMP), with just a handful in Yogyakarta (GE C18MMi).
Kertapati station has the freight yard and the passenger side by side – the station is located right beside the Musi River.
Entering the platform of Kertapati station.
Arrived at Kertapati station.
Following the safe run of the Railbus Kertalaya from Indralaya, the set of crew has a prayer before being relieved of their duty for this train. Note that this seems to be a Divre III thing as prayers are usually conducted before the train’s departure on Java island.
The northernmost buffer stops of South Sumatra at Kertapati station.
Some simple information (thought albeit incorrect) is available for onward public transport.
Similar to PT KAI stations on Java, there is a separate exit for arrival passengers.
Kertapati station is the gateway to Palembang city, however, it is located about 4.4km from the main Ampera area, across the Musi River.
There are ample parking spaces around, but you can also get to the city by taxi or through popular ride-hailing apps such as Grab or Go-Jek.
Alternatively, walk out of the station to flag down local angkots or Bus Kota (city bus), or continue walking ahead for the Trans Musi BRT system.
About a 5 minute walk from the station, at the Simpang Sungki Halt, I got on the Trans Musi to my hotel.
Overall, the Railbus Kertalaya offers a fast and fuss-free journey between Indralaya and Kertapati stations, with a travel time (excluding delays) of half that of driving on Palembang’s pothole-filled roads. I guess it’s a chicken-and-egg situation where there’s not many passengers because the train departs only once a day, and the train departs only once a day because there are insufficient passengers, but with just less than 20 passengers on my once-a-day train on a Saturday, it isn’t the most motivating sign that this train service can be sustained.
Perhaps if the train service could be increased to a bi-hourly frequency (with the double-track alignment between Kertapati and the junction to Indralaya, this shouldn’t be a problem), or even an hourly service with quick turnarounds, it will drive new demand for commuters on this route relying on their own vehicles or the Trans Musi Koridor Aglomerasi Indralaya direct bus service between UNSRI Palembang Campus and UNSRI Indralaya Campus during the day time.