The Soekarno–Hatta Airport Railink Services (ARS) is Soekarno-Hatta International Airport’s (SHIA) brand new dedicated airport railway line linking it with downtown Jakarta. The key purpose of this airport rail link is to cut travel time between the airport and downtown Jakarta, but in actual fact does the complete opposite.
Tickets for the SHIA Railink can only be purchase online using credit and debit cards, electronic money via the Railink app on smartphones or at vending machines at stations with credit, debit or prepaid bank cards. This being said, I recommend that you only buy your ticket at the vending machines at stations as tickets are dated and timed, and should you miss your train due to a flight delay and do not upgrade it at a 25% surcharge within 30 minutes, it will render your ticket invalid.
Cash is not accepted on the SHIA Railink, which is a ridiculous arrangement, especially troublesome for tourists who have just touched down in Jakarta and may not be familiar with the procedures.
Touch “Regular Ticket” to start the ticket purchase process.
Choose the next train departure on the screen.
Choose Debit/Credit Card should you wish to pay with it.
SHIA Railink tickets cost Rp.70,000.
Here’s where things got complicated. The credit card machine insists on having to key in a PIN when you insert the card. (To keep things in context, there is no PIN number needed usually for Singapore credit or debit cards.) Even when I keyed in my ATM PIN number or just 000000, the machine refuses to process the payment. So it seems that you have to have a local PIN number, or that just like the parent PT KAI, Railink could potentially not accept foreign credit cards. The paywave function does not work too. Again, ridiculous, considering that this is a train service from an international airport.
There is also no top-up facilities for my BNI TapCash card in the station, so I have no choice but to purchase a new BRIZZI card from the standalone kiosk. The card costs Rp.100,000 with Rp.80,000 value preloaded – just sufficient for one SHIA Railink ride.
And because of this delay, I missed my initial 12.10pm train despite there being 10 minutes to departure, because ticket sales close 10 minutes before departure. I can only purchase my ticket for the next train at 1.10pm.
And no, the facility to accept prepaid cards directly at the gate is not ready yet, so it is a must to purchase a paper ticket from the kiosk using the prepaid card first.
Purchasing the Railink ticket with my new (unwanted) BRIZZI card.
My ticket for the next train departure at 1.10pm.
Taking a 10-minute look at the 12.10pm train, still waiting for departure but yet I’m unable to board it.
There are two waiting lounges by the side of the ticket gates, or some small eateries around serving really expensive food like bakso for Rp.60,000.
I opted for the bakso to save time in the city.
Finally, the incoming train pulled in at 12.48pm, which will form the 1.10pm departure.
Scan the ticket code at the gates to enter the platform.
Boarding the SHIA Railink.
The interior of the SHIA Railink train. 10 such 6-car trainsets are ordered, which are manufactured by PT INKA and Bombardier.
Just like Eksekutif Class trains, seats on the SHIA Railink can be reclined.
Push the recline button at the side of the seat to recline.
The legroom available on the SHIA Railink.
USB charging ports are also available between each pair of seats under the centre armrest.
Luggage racks are available by the side of the train doors to store your luggage.
Two types of toilets are available:
The urinoir or urinal, as you might have guessed, is a small cubicle for male passengers only.
The toilet, or toilet, are for passengers of all genders, with a western-style toilet bowl and baby nappy changing facilities.
Fun fact: The Indonesian word for toilet is toilet.
The view of the doors from on board the train.
Welcome to Jakarta subway?
The generous legroom available on board the SHIA Railink.
Departing SHIA Airport Railway Station. Notice that the overhead lines are of the rigid type within the station and under the taxiway.
As the railway exits SHIA on the wrong side away from the city, it loops around the airport perimeter first to get back on the right track. (Ha.)
The views from along this 12km-long airport branch line.
Approaching Batu Ceper, with tracks running parallel to the existing main line to Tangerang.
Arrived at Batu Ceper, the junction station between the Tangerang Line and the airport branch line.
Merging back to the main line after Batu Ceper.
Approaching Duri station.
At Duri station, the drivers have to walk to the other end of the train as the train has to change directions to continue onwards to Sudirman Baru (BNI City) and thereafter to Manggarai.
Heading towards Sudirman Baru (BNI City) on the Loop Line, splitting off from the Tangerang Line.
Approaching Sudirman Baru (BNI City) station.
Arrived at Sudirman Baru (BNI City) station.
Almost everything on this train gives off the INKA feel, even the air-conditioning unit is of INKA’s own in-house brand.
The train continues on to Manggarai to layover and to cross back to the other track. As Sudirman Baru (BNI City) is on the main line with no additional tracks or crossovers fitted, the train has to move off quickly so as to not disrupt the other commuter trains coming in fast. Also, while the SHIA Railink has its own tracks at Manggarai, there is no passenger building yet, hence passengers are unable to take the train there despite the train already running there on actual internal schedule.
Taking the travellator up to the concourse.
Scan your ticket at the gates again to exit.
Follow the signs to the exit and take the travellators down.
3 options are available from Sudirman Baru (BNI City) station for onward travel:
1. You can get taxi from Sudirman Baru (BNI City) station. Remember to choose taxis from the Blue Bird Group to have a reliable metered journey.
2. You can get a bus if you are heading to MONAS or Gambir station. This is useful if you wish to get to the TransJakarta busway system and do not wish to walk all the way to Dukuh Atas. However, if you are heading to Gambir station, you should seriously consider getting the DAMRI bus to Gambir straight from the airport.
This bus plies the Sudirman Baru (BNI City) Station – MONAS – Gambir route, though I’m not sure of the exact routing and stopping points, because I took the most obvious option which is…
3. Get the KRL Commuter Line train from Sudirman station. Sudirman station is located just after Sudirman Baru (BNI City) station with the ends of the platforms almost touching each other. The walk between the two stations takes less than 5 minutes. From here, you are free to travel to anywhere on the KRL network.
Overall, the SHIA Railink to me is only useful for having the right to claim that the airport has a railway facility into the city as it does not get you there significantly faster. The SHIA Railink currently operates with infrequent trains at 30 to 60 minute frequencies, which is double or quadruple that of the existing DAMRI Airport Bus which departs every 15 minutes to Gambir. On top of that, the DAMRI Airport Bus has multiple routes running throughout Jakarta city and the neighbouring regencies at a fare which is almost half that of the train, which currently gets you nowhere and a transfer by taxi, bus or KRL is still necessary at the terminal.
Ignoring the time taken for my Skytrain joyride but factoring in the hour-long delay as mentioned above thanks to the non-acceptance of foreign credit cards, my journey from SHIA to the hotel took a whopping 3 hours which involves a Skytrain ride, waiting time for the train (which is longer than the journey itself), the 56-minute SHIA Railink ride and a KRL ride. On a normal day, the DAMRI bus ride to Gambir station will take just about an hour, and with a busway ride from Gambir to my destination, it will take 1.5 hours in total at maximum. And a taxi directly from the airport will take an hour at maximum too, including the jams in the city.
Get on the SHIA Railink to try out the service if you must, but in the long run, unless the train is the destination like on this trip, and taking into account the first mile/last mile connectivity, the hassle to purchase tickets and the overall fare, I’ll be sticking to the cheaper and faster DAMRI Airport Bus.