Integrated planning and greater investment in new South Sulawesi railway can transform region

PAIR researchers completed preliminary analysis on a new railway line connecting South Sulawesi’s capital Makassar to the regional town of Pare Pare looking at how to optimise community benefits.


The line is in the first stages of construction that will connect the island of Sulawesi along its western seaboard.

The railway line will carry freight and passenger services, and is hoped to have significant benefits in connecting people, supporting industry and growing the economy.

Researchers have investigated five key areas to maximise the railway’s operational efficiency and its benefits to the communities around it.

Key findings

Hazard analysis

  • Researchers have developed a risk map that has identified that the risk of landslides along the railway line is low, except along a section near Parepare that has not been built yet.
  • The risk of flooding appears to be very high in some areas near Makassar and Maros, as the track is built along low-land plains.

Communities along the railway

  • Based on demographic data, researchers have determined that population density is rising along the railway line, with most of the population at working age. This may equate to public transport demand.
  • The areas along the railway line are dominated by the agricultural and fisheries sector, which may benefit less from improved freight transport than other sectors.

Freight transport

  • The demand for freight transport is likely to be less than assumed in the railway’s business case. The majority is likely to come from cement transport.
  • Investment in connectivity and enabling infrastructure is required to enable freight movement. This includes intermodal exchanges at railway stations, better road connectivity and better supply chain facilities like warehouses and distribution centres.

Track capacity

  • Most of the railway is built as a single track, which limits the number of trains that can run per day.
  • The mixture of slower freight trains with faster passenger trains will also impact capacity. The researchers’ modelling shows that running the number of freight trains per day that are required to meet demand would make it very difficult for passenger trains to run on time. More research is needed here on train scheduling optimisation.

City master planning

  • Researchers have held workshops with local authorities to understand the current state of master planning in Makassar and South Sulawesi, with mobility identified as a focus area for the Makassar Smart City Master Plan.
  • The Makassar city planning has no link to the provincial level plans or the plans for other local authorities in Parepare, Barru, Pangkep and Maros.
  • There is also a lack of coordination in the planning for different modes of transport, resulting in issues with road transport to and from the port in Makassar.


The new railway line has potential to transform the province, but significant planning and investment is needed to ensure it can maximise its impact.

Researchers will continue to study the railway line and its connecting infrastructure in order to provide recommendations to relevant authorities to ensure its effectiveness and efficiency. Further research will look into:

  • The infrastructure and connecting services required to capture freight demand beyond the cement industry.
  • The capacity of the railway line to provide on-time freight and passenger transport.
  • The public transport connections that take passengers to and from the train station, such as the bus network, to ensure an integrated public transport system.
  • The needs of passengers, including the potential origins and destinations of their journeys.
  • Infrastructure to support freight movement, such as distribution centres, and cost competitive modelling to implement this.
  • The infrastructure required to support the movement of agricultural products.
  • Further workshops to understand and improve the Smart City Master Plan and the Transport Master Plan.

This research will be carried out in 2021-2022.

The research team

PAIR research area: Transport

Senior Fellows: Professor Andreas Ernst (Monash), Professor Nyoman Pujawan (Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember), Professor Siti Malkhamah (Universitas Gadjah Mada)

Associate Fellows: Dr Simon Bowly (Monash), Dr Ira Mutiara Anjasmara (Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember), Dr Tony Dwi Susanto (Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember), Dr Dyah Rahmawati Hizbaron (Universitas Gadjah Mada), Dr Imam Muthohar (Universitas Gadjah Mada)


The research team will discuss their findings at the PAIR Virtual Summit Day 2 (26 November 2020)

Register for “Maximising the impact of South Sulawesi’s first railway line” here