This page refers to the area of the
island of Borneo that is part of Indonesia. For other parts of
the island, see Brunei,
Kalimantan is the Indonesian name for the whole island of Borneo, although it is sometimes used to designate only the Indonesian part.
A 1067mm gauge railway opened at Balikpapan in the Dutch Residency of South and East Borneo around 1908. Its main purpose was to connect the then recently opened oil refinery with the sea port, although it also carried passenger traffic in and around the town. The infrastructure was severely damaged in World War II by American bombing raids against the occupying Japanese forces. The state of destruction was recorded by Australian troops who, with Dutch assistance, liberated the island in 1945. The railway was partly restored for military purposes, but fell into disuse again after troops left the island the following year. Although the refinery was able to resume production in 1950, the railway did not reopen.
At the start of the 21st century, ambitious plans emerged for a network of up to 5000km of new lines to be built by 2030, largely in support of the coal mining industry. In 2011, it was reported that construction had begun on one of the proposed new railways, a 130km standard (1435mm) gauge line connecting mines in the Muara Wahau area with a new industrial complex and port facility near Bengalon. As far as can be ascertained, it was never completed. With a declining global demand for coal, it appears unlikely that any further railway construction will take place in the foreseeable future.
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