Train ride through Java
The train ride through Java –Indonesia’s Railway system started long ago during the Dutch colonial era in the archipelago. In fact, it was in 1840 when Colonel JHR Van der Wijk thought it would be a good idea to construct this railway network. His proposal suggested that the starting point would be from Jakarta to Surabaya, Surakarta, Yogyakarta, and end in Badung. His proposal to the Dutch East Indies government was accepted with a few changes, It would start in Semarang, Surakarta, and then Yogyakarta because they covered regions that were rich in sugar cane, coffee, tobacco, teak, and other lumber.
Connecting Cities and People
The trains not only connect cities, but people as well, through railways, communities and visitors can experience a common heritage and history. Trains are also a great way for visitors to see beautiful landscapes across Java while riding through crowded suburbs, villages, and farm land. Not to forget all the farm workers, animals, and the interesting people that get on and off the train. All main cities are connected to Java, including Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo, Surabaya, Probolingo (for Mt Bromo) and Banyuwangi (the ferry terminal for Bali).The trains run on narrow-gauge 3′ 6″ tracks, but are pretty fast and usually on time. These trains are cheap, comfortable, air-conditioned, and a practical way to get around. you can book online 30 to 90 days in advance.
My wife and I were visiting the family in Sidoarjo when we spontaneously decided to get on a train to Jogjakarta, a roughly 6 hr ride. We had bought the tickets the night before directly from the train station. We had hoped to get their executive seats which reclined and had a bit more legroom, but there were only Bisnis (business) class (middle class) seats available for us to sit together in the very back train car.
Our morning started off by taking a grab to the station in Sidoarjo, Java. My mother in law packed our lunches and snacks but we also picked up a few bottles of water and face masks before exchanging our tickets for our boarding passes. While we waited for the train I shot a few photographs and videos of passing trains and the station.
I found this station to be clean and well organized, with every employee doing their job perfectly. Watches were checked, whistles were blown, and everything was done in preparation for the next arrival and departure. The station still had charm, untouched by time. Our train was punctual as everyone stood motionless watching it until it came to a stop. When it was time to board we were a little confused about which train car to board, but we eventually found our seats in the very last train car.
Luckily we traveled light with only small backpacks which we stored above our seats after walking through every section of the train. Bisnis Klas was not too comfortable with upright school bus style benches but the air-conditioner worked. The seats could be turned around to face each other, allowing you to kick your feet up while gazing out a dirty and scratched window. (shows up in my video below) I freely moved around to vacant seats and other areas of the train to film different angles while the train was in motion.
The highlight of my trip was sitting next to my wife without any distractions with amazing landscapes. Well almost without distractions if you count the man snoring next to us. You should try to book executive seats ahead of time due to locals and other travelers reserving seats ahead of time. Being able to recline would have been nice for the 6-hour trip. They do serve food on the train as well as renting pillows but, we were happier with our own snacks.
Surabaya Gubeng Station
Gubeng Station is the biggest station in East Java which sits directly in the heart of Surabaya. . The station is divided into two sections, the old building, and the new one. The new building is located on the west part, while the old one is on the east. The new station is exclusively reserved for business and executive classes, while the old one only serves economy class. Gubeng station has a check-in service, boarding pass machine, and an electronic arrival and departure sign. Furthermore this station provides massage chairs, musical performances, and is equipped with several warungs.
How to get there: Gubeng Station Street, Pacar Keling, Tambaksari, Surabaya City, East java, 60272
Train Schedule Surabaya – Yogyakarta
This main station in Yogyakarta is better known as Tugu to the locals and is the biggest of the two stations in Yogyakarta.
Tugu Station is located in Pasar Kembang Street, Sosromenduran, Gedong Tengen, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, 55271. Adjacent to this place is Malioboro Area on the eastern and southern sides. From there, the tourist area is easily reachable by walking or taking a pedicab. For those who are interested in wandering a little farther, it is recommended to rent a motorcycle or take a ride on the Transjogja bus.
This station has a particular characteristic on its lane. On the east gateway across Malioboro, in which a sliding gate is installed, there is a guardhouse and a road specifically for bikes, horse carriages, pedicabs, and pedestrians.
Getting Your Tickets
PT Kereta Api – website (www.kereta-api.co.id) which introduced online booking in summer 2012. However, it’s only available in Indonesian, and since 2013 reportedly rejects most if not all non-Indonesian credit cards.
Tiket.com – overseas credit cards accepted! www.tiket.com is a private agency that connects to the Indonesian Railways system to sell train tickets online. It’s available in English, language selector top right. www.tiket.com charges a small ‘convenience fee’ of around £1 or $1.50. As with the Indonesian Railways site, booking opens 90 days ahead (until 2014 it was only 30 days) and tickets can be bought online until 2 days before the date of travel. At the end of the booking, you get an online confirmation that must be exchanged for an actual ticket at the station at least 1 hour before departure at the self-printing kiosk or cashier.
There are three classes of coach: eks (executive) is the highest class with ac, reclining seats, and more legroom; Bisnis is the medium class, also comes with ac but not reclining seat and less spacious legroom; and Ekonomi or the economy class.
If you see different prices for the same train & class, these are simply different pricing levels, just choose the cheapest available.
The lettering (eg.: Eks(A) or Eks(J)) refers to the placement of the coach on the whole train, not where the seat is. The earlier letter (eg.: A as compared to J) is the most expensive and is furthest away from the locomotive head, so it’s safer and quieter. So, in this case, J will be the first coach after the locomotive head and A would be at least 3 coaches away from the head. You can still choose where you want to sit inside each coach, it’s independent of the A B Cs
A train system links most main cities in Java, including Jakarta, Solo, Bandung, JOG, and Surabaya via several different routes. Bookings are computerized and can be made up to 30 days in advance. Indonesian trains are usually reasonably punctual (please READ: late)