Pilot Project Report: Preliminary data & gap analysis of the Makassar–Parepare Railway

The Government of Indonesia’s new Makassar-Parepare railway line presents opportunities for South Sulawesi and Indonesia as a whole. But to make the most of this new infrastructure, more research is needed to support an evidence-based policy.


This pilot project, looking at how the line will be used once the physical infrastructure is complete, has highlighted some significant issues that warrant further examination.


  • With population density rising along the railway line, demand for public transport could increase. However, most of the areas serviced by the line are dominated by industries where freight transport is of less benefit.
  • The demand for freight transport is likely to be significantly less than was assumed in the railway’s business case. We predict a maximum of 6.2 Mtpa (million tons per annum), mostly from cement transport, while the business case forecast 7.5 Mtpa. The growth predicted by 2030, to 9 Mtpa, seems difficult to achieve.
  • Whatever the latent demand for freight transport, significant investment in connectivity and enabling infrastructure is required.

Download the full Pilot Project Report, ‘Preliminary data & gap analysis of the Makassar–Parepare Railway’, here

Physical issues

  • There is a relatively low risk of landslides, except along a section near Parepare which has not yet been built. The flood risk appears to be high to very high in some areas near Makassar and in Maros – but we have been unable to confirm the real conditions on site.
  • Most of the railway is single track, limiting the number of trains that can be run per day. Mixing slower freight trains with faster passenger services would impact on capacity, with even four freight trains daily affecting the ability to run punctual passenger services. Running more than 10 freight trains a day, to meet our demand estimates, would make it impossible.

Mobility is a focus for the Makassar Smart City Masterplan – but this has no link to the provincial level or masterplans for other local authorities (Parepare, Barru, Pangkajene and Maros). Even at the city level, there is a lack of coordination in the planning for different transport modes. This is already causing issues, including a bottleneck for large trucks headed to the port in Makassar.

The Strategic Integrated Project (SIP), due to be completed in 2021 and 2022, will focus on what is needed for the railway to be used for more than just transporting cement. Passenger transport may present the highest opportunity – but rail capacity remains an issue. New services connecting passengers with railway stations are required, as is a better understanding of passengers’ needs.

Capturing container freight would require building intermodal facilities and distribution centres along the railway track, as well as modelling the cost competitiveness of rail in this context. The SIP aims to also make a useful contribution to the development of masterplans. It will seek to show what is needed for a connected, multi-modal transport network, and help local authorities produce more comprehensive and integrated transportation system plans. Combined with the other projects developed under the PAIR Pilot, this study will make a significant contribution to our understanding of future development needs in the region.