Most people use private cars, taxis or buses to reach one of the three terminals at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, from Jakarta. However, Jakarta is known for its severe traffic congestion and therefore it can take more than two hours to reach the airport by toll road.

The new railway service, which cost IDR 5 trillion (approx. USD $370 million), consists of 34 kilometers of rail, linking the airport to Manggarai Station in South Jakarta (and passing through the stations Batu Ceper, Duri and Sudirman Baru). Next year the railway service is planned to become fully operational with three additional kilometers of rail. Most of the railway used by Railink within Jakarta city consists of existing tracks that are used by the commuter lines.

Recently, a skytrain was launched that connects the three terminals of Soekarno-Hatta Airport. The plan is to integrate the new railway with the skytrain as well as with the MRT, LRT, commuter lines and TransJakarta bus network.

The new Jakarta-Soekarno Hatta Airport railway aims to offer passengers an affordable and quicker link from Jakarta to the airport (and vice versa), thus reducing the need for people to use private cars. As a result, traffic congestion should somewhat reduce. However, there remain major challenges as the total number of passengers that pass through Soekarno-Hatta is estimated to grow to 80 million per year by 2019 or 2020.

The train ride takes slightly more than one hour from Soekarno-Hatta airport to Manggarai station in South Jakarta. One ticket costs IDR 70,000 (approx. USD $5.2), implying it costs about half the price of a taxi (or Go-Car, Grab or Uber) ride (including toll road costs). However, the ticket price is expected to be raised in two months time to IDR 100,000. The airport train is scheduled to operate 42 single-trips per day, starting early in the morning (03:51 am) and finishing in the evening (11:10 pm). About 11,000 passengers are expected to use the rail service daily with three trains plying the route.

The railway project, which had its groundbreaking ceremony in 2014, is owned by Railink (a joint venture consisting of Indonesia's state-owned railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia and state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II).

At the inauguration Widodo was accompanied by Indonesian State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Mariani Soemarno, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, and Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono.