Trip Report
7 - 27 August 2015
Linesiding with John
Java Sugar Mill Narrow Gauge Steam & Diesel Tour
Now including steam charters and stationary steam!
Reports from Java during the 2015 Season
This webpage is designed to be simple to edit and upload while I am in Java using just an iPad. It started on 6 August when we arrived in Surabaya and got some dramatic news about the reduction in the number of mill using steam from 9 to 4. This meant that more charters were arranged and the amount of time around Pemalang was reduced by 1.5 days. Charters were added in Solo and at Olean, Sragi, Sumberharjo and Pangka mills. You can read below how the revised itinerary played out.

An ash cloud from Mount Raung (Gunung Raung) near Jember was disrupting flights into Denpasar, Bali (primarily Australian flights). Surabaya flights have also been affected. Apart from our sole Australian participant who was very concerned about his flights, the major effect was poor sunsets in the east of Java.

6 August 2015 - Surabaya (updated 27 August)
News from various sources suggests that steam locos will not be used this year at 5 out of the 9 real working steam mills. Some might consider this a disaster. I have only met up with one member of my group so far so it's too early to say how they will take it and how we will play things. The main options seem to be to focus on the whole mill scene including diesels and tractors and enjoy what limited steam is left working in the yards and with quite a lot more stationary steam to see inside the mills or try to arrange as many charters as possible to get the steam loco quota back up. (In the end we did both.)

The following mills are not using steam locos:

Tasik Madu

This leaves 4 mills with limited use of steam and no steam field working at all for the first time.

Pagottan (local fireless conversions)
Semboro (fireless)
Click this box to email me any questions or comments.
7 August 2015
With Olean suspected diesel in the fields and possibly no steam locos in use, we had a leisurely trip to Situbondo and went straight to the back gate of Wringinanom for the afternoon full trains. We were there by 15:30. Weather was grim with cloud and wind and we had some rain en route. Locos 2 and 6 both small Kyogo Kyosan (Japanese) locos both brought in full trains and headed back to the fields to get more. Nothing else came in before grim light stopped play around 17:00. Wilson has been here for 3 days and has observed 5 locos going to the fields, 3 small diesels and 2 large Japanese diesels and that the empties go out around 08:00 and the locos for the fulls go out around 14:00 and return after 15:00.

We will be back to Wringinanom and have a proper visit planned for 9 August. Tomorrow we will visit Olean mill and try to ascertain if steam is used normally and whether, if necessary, we can arrange a sensible charter with the steam loco bringing in a sensible load before sunset. Wilson reports days start off OK and then get cloudier. So at the moment there is no chance of evening sunset shots.
Updated 12 January 2016
8 August 2015
Olean is as already suggested - loco No. 4 is available to charter and they were steaming it when we arrived because they knew Combo was bringing a group. They wanted Rp 500,000 for shunting in the yard but we arranged empties to the field in the morning and fulls from the field in the afternoon for Rp 2 million plus food and cigarettes for the crew.

The morning was chaotic for the groups as we tried and failed to keep out of each other's way but produced one or two good shots. The loco was on front of the train in both directions after shunting at Duwet. We achieved better shots of it returning to the mill with the empties!

A good afternoon was had in the fields north of Duwet. Two diesels (newly arrived D1 and No. 2) went out followed by No. 4 which was last home with I believe 8 lori which allowed it to breeze back to the mill with only about 6 pauses to raise steam. The light had been good all day unlike previous days but was shot by 16:30 so the run was in hazy sunshine and then at dusk. By the time it reached the mill No. 4, burning wood, was beginning to produce some reasonable sparks. All plastic but very enjoyable especially the afternoon. How nice to see a steam loco and train of loaded lori enter the mill at Olean with still just enough light for digital photography.

It seems that management keep the loco in reserve for charters. It may work when no tourists are around if they have a diesel failure. 3 diesels seen in action. The Rp 2 million payment came with an official receipt from the mill management.

To the RM Malang for lunch which still has beer and now has WI-fi and the RM Kurnia for dinner which has neither! The food was still OK although fish was off the menu probably due to lack of high-spending Chinese customers now it's dry.
9 August 2015
Wringinanom - in the morning locos 2 and 6 were due to take empties south to Paowan and Bukolan. One of these is just over the flat crossing with the former state railways line to Panarukan and the other is west of the 4-way junction just beyond. Locos 3 and 5 were due to go to each of the north lines. In the end, a substitution led to small KK diesels 3 and 6 going south, large Keio diesels 4 and 5 heading north. KK No. 2 was left in the yard and small Baguley No. 8 (also numbered 21) was yard shunter. The two steam locos 6 and 7 are still in the depot although No. 6 has lost its Mickey Mouse dome cover.

Locos were due off mill with empties at 9 am returning by 12 light engine and off again light at 2 returning at roughly 4 pm. On our initial visit, we observed all locos off the first full trains in the afternoon returning for a second train of fulls from the fields.

At the flat crossing with PT Kereta Api, there are now signs in both directions declaring ongoing ownership of the track bed by PTKA.

In the afternoon - we saw 6 and 3 come in from the south with loads and on going back to the mill 5 was already back. No sign of 4 so went went to the junction of the first north line. 6 and 3 went light to the fields again and just before dusk 2 (which had not gone out in the morning) surprised us and came from the second line north. No sign of 4 before we left around 5 pm. It gets dark before 6 here and on days that turn murky as today, light is going by 4:30.

10 August 2015
Asembagus - Rail traffic here is declining. The line to the south is not in use and they have built a new truck road from the crossing gate at the north line exit from the mill around the inside edge of the compound to the mill train. Road trucks now provide most of the cane. Only one train of empties went out this morning. However, there were four locos out in the afternoon.

AM: Nos. 4 empties, 2 shunt, 7 fulls train to mill on line to port late morning, 8 bagged sugar to Jankar port after 11 am. 3, 5, 6 stopped for service/ repair, 11 outside depot, 1 inside depot, steam 9 outside, 10 inside with wood in the tender

Steam locos are both reported by the railway control office to be no longer steamable and therefore not available to charter.

Open access to port, roughly 2 passenger ferries per day to Madura and Sepudi island off Madura to the east. The bagged sugar warehouse at the port is mainly empty but had some sugar in store.

Around 11 am 8 took the bagged sugar train left for the port but had to wait for No. 7 with a load of cane for the mill to clear the port line. At the warehouses at the port, the loco ran round its train and waited for the labourers to arrive to unload the bags. It then propelled into the warehouse and we left it there around 2 pm to drive back to the mill. This train is reported daily at the moment.

In the afternoon after 3 pm, at the first junction north of the mill, No. 6 went east, No. 3 went west and No. 5 went north. A bit later No. 4 headed east. No choice then but to hang around at the junction for the returns.

The only loco and train that made it back before sunset was No. 3 which struggled up the slope onto the mainline with a sander on the front and needing to set back but it eventually made it onto the straight and back to the mill.
11 August 2015
Panji - now has a surfeit of diesels for the yard-only work. In the yard, locos 3 and 4 were waiting for their next duties. Nos. 9 and 5 were under repair/service. 10 was out of use. In the depot, are 4 small diesels dumped along with the steam locos of which two still retain name plates on one side. Otherwise, the steam loco plates have gone (worldwide).The mill train is still steam but the only other steam item we found inside the mill were 2 Cameron steam pumps of which one was in use. In the sugar bagging area, some internal track is still in use including a wagon turntable and a couple of flat wagons for taking the sugar outside to load onto trucks.

Prajakan - the molasses train here with diesel 03 is currently the only use of the railway as trucks unload directly at the mill. It was not clear how the mill maintains an overnight supply of cane. The molasses train runs at 06:00 and 14:00 daily. The mill yard is full of empty wagons with diesels 02 and 04 at the depot without work. The footbridge is still in place but a gap has been left in the lines of wagons so you can walk across the tracks. In 2014, Wilson found the outer truck yard along the main road busy with trains of cane for the mill yard. This could possibly happen again in case of mill breakdown or surfeit of cane coming in or even to provide an overnight supply of cane.

The four steam locos, 3 large tender locos and 1 large tank, are still in an otherwise empty loco shed and are difficult to photograph.
One of our group Guy comments that we only saw 2 diesels in use at Olean - original No. 2 and import D1. These are to take empties to the field, bring in loaded trains and shunt both ends of the mill yard as required. This suggests that they have nothing to spare and the steam loco may well be used regularly as required but management are very aware of the income stream from visiting foreign enthusiasts so will try not to use it if they are present.
12 August 2015
Semboro - mallet 15 and Jung 29 were both in steam having been used for 2 days of Japanese charters. We were offered a charter but declined. This decision wasn't easy but as we had for several months agreed that we didn't want a charter at Semboro but instead wanted the fireless and diesel field workings, we stuck with that. We didn't enter charter negotiations so I don't know the price they were asking.

The mill feed seems to have expanded with two rail lines serving different mill trains and trucks can also be unloaded at each at the same time as rail wagons. The new mill train line is diesel worked and this diesel also clears empties from the original and fireless-worked line.

One of the fireless No. 2 went to the depot for minor repairs and this is the first time I have seen one 'on shed'. That must have affected the mill rail operation but the pattern of operation was - fulls already at the unloader are hauled in by cable, the fireless comes off the charger and hauls up new fulls to the cable. When most of the first set of fulls are empty, the diesels hauls them away. When the fireless is released, possibly with the last of the empties, it goes around the loop, leaves any empties and reverses round a tight curve to reach the mill yard still the same way round with its front to the charger. It collects a new set of fulls which it leaves by the charger spur and goes to charge. Once charged, it hauls these to the mill train and the cycle repeats. This was with only one fireless in action. With two in action, the sequence will necessarily be different.

In the afternoon, we went to a field being cut off the mainline close to the mill. We saw one full train return to the mill and 3 locos light engine heading for the fields. These didn't return before sunset but a pair of water buffalo brought out a train of 14 wagons in only 3 trips. If the final wagons had not still been being loaded, it could probably have been done in two goes. The buffalo handler had really good control over his animals and it was impressive. The loads were left just off the mainline to be hauled to the mill. Fading light meant that we didn't see that.
13 August 2015
Jatiroto - We had a leisurely morning checking out the depot and yards here before driving to establish fields being cut on lines to the south east relatively close to the mill and not accessed via the double-track main line.

Afternoon- 7 locos outside the shed around 13:30 for shift change plus several inside for quick repairs. Two of these were due to go to the area we had explored in the morning but one of these trains was to go through to Semboro.

Locos in use D12, 07, 10, 16, 11, 17, 21, 19, 13, 08 with all going out on the main line except the first two out the back of the mill to the south east. All appear to be identical Japanese 0-6-0 rod drive diesels except that most but not all have smaller counter balance weights on the front axle.

10 locos were bringing in 660 loaded wagons today (including 2 trains through to Semboro). The large Japanese locos are marked on their cabs for 45 wagons maximum but the average load today is 66 wagons with some trains of 70 wagons and the lowest being 45.

We decided just to see 07 and 12 go out to the fields which they did around 2:30. They were preceded by a railcar on PW duties replacing a point blade on a spur into a field. We then headed to the main point where lines converge south west of the mill. This is just before the start of the double track main line with one line coming in from the north west in the direction of the main road (traffic could be seen at the end of the branch on the main road) and another coming in from the west. Three locos went out light engine on the double track line to the south west and a train carrying temporary track came in from the west line. However, the sun set into a cloud before any loaded trains appeared.

Note: at both Semboro and Jatiroto, the plan to stake out a field being worked close to the mill on the busy main line did not produce a loaded train before sunset. In both cases, a loaded train was prepared in the field just off the mainline with the water buffalo and cane workers already gone home to be hauled out by the loco and its auxiliary wagon to the mill at some point. In both cases, this didn't happen before sunset. At Semboro, I have seen loaded trains on the move before sunset when we have had a charter across the big bridge and the canal to the south west some distance from the mill. However, it's still difficult to know how to find a loaded train on the move for a group before sunset at these two mills without chartering a train to find a real cane train.

Rob Dickinson comments:
They have had two sets of mills at Semboro for a long time, just one worked by the firelesses as you say. They were certainly there in 2003 (I have a few pictures) and both were vintage Stork, Hengelo (1920s) although not identical. Both were driven by turbines which were maybe installed in the 1970s when the mill was upgraded and most of the diesels arrived. I only went round the mill once and had no reason to go back when I found there was no stationary steam.

Shame about the lack of daylight cane trains at both. I can't speak for Jatiroto but while I used to visit Semboro (diesel) daylight trains were possible but I never studied them systematically. In steam days, maybe the trains were shorter and locos needed to do more trips so they came in earlier and more or less at any time after midday. In any case as seemed to happen in lots of mills, latterly the crews were never that bothered when they got back as the cane was not touched until all the road deliveries had been sorted. Frustrating for visitors and I couldn't begin to count the number of times I have seen an apparently complete cane train sitting aound as the light failed and then the sun set.
Local arrangements for this tour in the East were made by Combo and in Central Java by Agus. The hand over point was Madiun. Because Madiun area mills mainly need permission from Surabaya, this was obtained by Combo who lives closer in Situbondo. Agus lives in Yogyakarta. Both are competent and trustworthy and speak enough English to do the job.

Combo's phone number is +62 813 3412 1298

Agus' phone number is +62 856-2929-984

Please mention my name if you contact them and please only do that if you wish them to make arrangements for you for a visit to Java.
14 August 2015
Jember - Blitar This is a transfer day.
We do not expect to visit any further mills with field trains on this trip. The remaining mills with active field lines are in the East and are:

Kedawung, Wringinanom, Olean, Asembagus, Semboro, Jatiroto.

Pajarakan east of Probolinggo is confirmed (26 August) to not have active field lines.

That makes only 7 mills left where empties go to the fields in the morning and cane trains come back to the mill late afternoon or evening.

Wilson confirms that Gending and Pajarakan no longer have field lines and will report on Kedawung shortly. The other 5 have been visited on this trip.

If you are aware of any more mills with active field lines, please let me know.
15 August 2015
Mojopanggung rail operation is now all tractor. In the shed are 4 diesels including E.M.Baldwin loco, 2 O&K and 1 Schoema. There are also 5 steam including the Baldwin. The plinthed loco and train (steam loco No. 1) is still present outside the office and well cared for.

Rejoagung was a bit sleeping on a Saturday afternoon but Guy tells me we saw all of the locos bar No. 2 and about 8 were in use. This is a slick,operation but often using two locos where one might do. The bagged sugar loco and train is followed by another loco and the train loco switches off, the points are changed and then the second loco pushes the bagged sugar to the warehouse. Similarly, the loco hauling the empties out of the mill goes onto a spur and a second loco hauls them back to the yard allow the mill empties loco to go back for more empties. In the roundhouse, along with around another 8 dumped diesels and the home-made loco, is what looks like a water tender from a steam loco painted black. It has rails around the top for baggage or wood to be piled up. I'm sure this wasn't there 3 years ago. On one side it is numbered 6 and I wonder if this would tie in with a photo of steam loco No. 6. On my visit when all of the steam was dumped (around 1983), I spend my time at the mainline Madiun station which still had working steam with B50 and D52 locos in action rather than visit a mill with dead steam! There won't be a photo in my collection.
We sneaked a look at the mill yard from the road crossing and saw 3 fireless on trains in the yard and 2 diesels in the truck yard around 13:00. Nothing was moving but there was no reason to think that all 3 fireless weren't in use.
16 August 2015
Purwodadi - steam locos Nos. 15 and 16 still in regular use along with diesels Nos. 2 & 3 and tractors. The first two cane trains we observed were hauled out of the truck yard over the bridge to the start of the mill yard where the loco detached and the other loco propelled into a road. The other loco also came on the back of the train when it had passed to make a double headed banker/pushing operation. This seems to be a slightly modified way of operating to previous years. After two trains, the truck yard was empty and the locos parked up in the yard with no work to do. We went round to visit Sudhono prior to returning to Purwodadi later.

When we got back at 13:00, there were plenty of loaded cane wagons in the truck yard and the locos were on shed for shift change. After taking water and bagasse, they were off to the truck yard for 3 train movements before it went quiet at 16:00 and we had to leave before the next one to drive to Solo for the night. No double banking occurred in the afternoon, the train loco going back immediately to the truck yard. In the shed, loco 10 (looking a possible spare working loco), the other No. 15 and a collection of bits possibly belonging to No. 11. There was also one diesel on shed.

Given the major losses this year, this mill with two hard-working locos is the best real steam left in Java and should it survive is should be allocated plenty of time to enjoy the different aspects of the loco operation and to visit inside the mill to see the classic collection of stationary engines and pumps.

Sudhono - a new system in place here. The trucks now unload in the mill yard round the back of the mill and two gantry cranes have been installed and a new truck road goes from the road crossing past the defunct weigh bridge. The wrecks before the weigh bridge have been pushed to one side for the new road. This limits the use of diesel and tractor to bringing empty lori from the mill and pushing loads into the truck yard. Further around tractors are used until cable takes over to the mill train. This alters the possibilities for a charter with steam loco No. 3. It could take empties from the mill to the new combined truck/mill yard and push loads from the gantry into the yard. As operations are mainly pushing, I doubt that the wagons will be chained up so using No. 3 to pull loaded cane wagons may be a challenge.

The mill train still has a nice collection of stationary steam engines but I didn't do a full mill interior exploration. Out the back of the mill, about in the middle of the mill yard, two locos are engaged in moving bagged sugar from the mill to the warehouse. Small No. 1 takes the bags inside the warehouse for unloading while No. 3 brings the bags to the warehouse and takes unloaded wagons back to the mill.

Overall, there has been a reduction the distance that the loaded wagons need to be moved to the mill train. A total of 3 diesels and various tractors seem to be needed for the system to operate. In addition to steam loco No. 3 parked under cover outside the shed door, Nos. 2, 6 and 9 are still in the shed.
The 2015 season has seen a major decline in real working steam with just 4 mills left:
Pagottan (fireless)
Semboro (fireless)
Field work (now all diesel except slim chance of steam at Olean) survives at:
17 August 2015 - Indonesia's 70th Independence Day
Tasik Madu - 08:00 - tractors working the yard, the tourist train diesel was under repair in the shed and steam locos 5 and VI warm but not in steam outside the shed. The reports that steam is only used when chartered appear true and tractors were doing all of the regular work. The hope that VI would be in steam to attend the Independence Day parade weren't realised and the track round to the Alun-alun had not been cleared.

TM I was on shed in steam with 7 open tourist coaches behind it and No. 3 was being steamed inside the tourism complex. The tourist train diesel is currently absent but there are sets of stock for it and the steam locos.

At 10:00 am, the factory steam hooter sounded for a minute and the steam loco (TM I) did its best to keep whistling. Shortly after, the clockwise tourist train ran several runs with TM I but it wasn't until around 11 that the second counter clockwise train started with No. 3. The shared track for both runs is the straight along by the (old?) swimming pool area, across the mill yard and round by the bagged sugar loading point. Otherwise, the trains offer two different rides each priced at Rp9,000. The anti-clockwise run is the one with the fake tunnel. Until they packed up around 12:30, there were several pairs of oxen taking bagged sugar to the warehouse. These trains were given precedence over the tourist steam trains.

This was the last day of a three-day weekend but the railway track across the yard had to be cleared out before tourist trains could run and it didn't look like trains had run on Saturday or Sunday. Perhaps Independence Day had the effect of cancelling the normal weekend trains this weekend.

Purwodadi - we returned around 15:30 to resume where we left off yesterday. No. 15 was on a train of fulls in the truck yard and 16 came eventually, and the cycle resumed with 15 hauling the train onto the bridge and 16 pushing the loads into the yard after 15 had detached. No. 15 then came back for the next lot. However after a while, 16 went on shed (we presume for repairs) and diesel No. 1 eventually came out to do pushing duties. After which, 15 also went on shed and it was all over for a while for sure. With dusk approaching we headed for our hotel. Locals talk highly of the after dark fireworks here but with no locos in the truck yard, we didn't wait to see them.
18 August 2015
Kanigoro - No. 6, D 3 and a tractor in use. No. 11 outside the shed is the spare engine. Inside the shed is the usual collection of wrecks including the VIW 0-6-0T. Everything went quiet at 10 am so we move on to Pagottan planning to return after lunch.

After lunch, we had several moves in the 1-3 pm slot with steam, diesel and tractor. When a loaded wagon derailed as No. 6 was propelling, it was 'tractor to the rescue' and the problem was quickly solved.

The shed road seems rarely used. The loco takes wood near the shed on a mill road but also from the back of the shed on the other side round the curve. The water is also taken at the back of the shed.

Pagottan - the mill had broken down. At first, everything had stopped but then fireless No. 6 charged and went to join No. 7 on the back of a train ready to propel to the mill. The crews ran them up and down a bit (for us?) but otherwise they were still in the same position when we returned in the afternoon. No. 8 went to charge and was off the charger in the afternoon. The three diesels 1, 2 & 3 were doing plenty of work on empties and fulls but no cane was being loaded onto the mill train. We left having seen all 3 fireless move but not do any real work (apart from Guy who saw No. 8 push some fulls towards the mill before going to charge).
19 August 2015
Solo charter train and new railbus service to Wonogiri.
We arrived at Purwosari around 7:00 for our 7:30 charter and the C12 loco and train were already waiting at Platform 1. Despite it being a normal working day, we achieved 5 run pasts on our way to Solo Kota and could probably have asked for a couple more. We were well ahead of the return railbus at Kota so we elected to run ahead back to Purwosari where we saw the loco and stock return to its siding to the north of the station. We then did a return trip on the railbus to Wonogiri. The maximum speed displayed was 32 kph although much of the run was at 21-23 kph and even slower, around 12-14 kph, through Solo. The train was well patronised but at Rp 4,000 a single ticket with a new railbus and the line fully staffed including security at every station and two security staff to escort the ticket inspector through the train, this is not a venture designed to make a profit.

Every passenger wants to face forward and with half the seats facing backwards there is competition for the forward facing seats.

The trains leave Purwosari at 6:00 and 10:00, return from Wonogiri at 8:00 and 12:15 and get back to Purwosari at 9:45 and 14:00. It's a mystery why this is essentially a morning operation with no afternoon trains. At least one INKA technician was on the train so perhaps the railbus is still bedding down. The air-con is ineffective, the windows are sealed and the automatic doors and folding out steps seem destined to give trouble but do stop people jumping on and off without paying.

Gondang Winangoen (formerly Gondang Baru) - we stopped briefly at the coffee shop here for long enough to establish that apart from the diesel and steam loco for the tourist train parked near the main road which were not operating on a normal working day, all other rail action is tractor or road truck. We saw a road truck hauling a train of empty wagons along the front of the mill to the west and they would have gone round to the truck yard at the back of the mill.
20 August 2015
Madukismo - we found all 17 60-year old East German LKM locos as well as the former Tersana Baru steam loco which is now dumped in the wagon works. LKM loco No. 14 has been converted to a SOD! (steam outline diesel) and there were about 15 open tourist coaches for it to haul. It moved from inside the shed when we arrived to outside the shed and the engine was ticking over while we were there. They were probably preparing it for the weekend tourist trains.

Only 6-7 of the locos were in use (which is probably normal these days). The mill yard was full and the truck yard empty with no road trucks to unload which meant there was little activity. It will be busier in the afternoon.

The operation is to load wagons in the truck yard, haul or propel them to the mill yard (requiring a reversal for some loads but not others), haul them round a balloon loop to the mill train and then haul empties back to the truck yard. There is a mill ash and sludge operation involving hand tramming and a wagon turntable and full skips are hauled away by a diesel. The depot and wagon repair shop are in the middle of the balloon loop. While it is modern and efficient as a 1950s mill compared with a 1920s mill or earlier, there are modern efficiencies such as moving the truck yard much closer to the mill which could reduce the use of the railway if they decide to copy other mills.

The mill itself is an East German sugar beet mill converted to process sugar cane and was exported to Java and erected in the late 1950s. The locos date from 1955 and the mill chimney date is 1958. Many of the cane wagons also have East German builders' plates. The number of locos suggests there was once field work.
21 August 2015
Ambarawa Railway Museum - the re-arrangement of locos under cover leading from the loco depot to the station works well except that the locos are now very difficult to photograph without getting the supports for the covering roof in the photo. Much like the arrangement of windows and seats on British trains, no thought has been given to the placing of locos so they can be photographed. There is a good photo timeline showing the development of railways in Indonesia from Dutch, via Japan times to the present day.

The museum is not finished - the car park and main entrance are not yet open and spaces available for souvenirs, small exhibits and food and drink are not yet in use. All of the old stalls on or near the station have been removed. At the crossing by the depot on the line to Tuntang, the illegal encroachment on the Railway property has been demolished leaving a clear view towards the lake. Although the museum entrance is currently directly into the back of the shed, once the car park is open, entrance will be from the end of the car park, I assume.

The museum is now very well overmanned with three people (two ticket sellers and one security man) controlling the entrance and lots of staff engaged in sweeping and cleaning. Apart from our group, there was a trickle of visitors.

The regular diesel passenger train to Tuntang runs only on Sundays and holidays and not daily at 10:00, 12:00 and 14:00.

If you want to photograph the locos in the museum, and most first time visitors do, the developments are not positive. However, overall and with the regular (but not daily) diesel passenger trains, it should appeal to Indonesian tourists.
22 August 2015
Bandungan (Ambarawa) to Pemalang - we did this route via Boja and Kendal to Cepiring Mill where the management were off duty as it was the weekend but they gave permission by phone to security for us to see the locos on display. One track is empty in the line up in front of the main office by the helipad - one suggestion is that the missing loco is plinthed in the park at Jatibarang. A Moes diesel is plinthed separately closer to the main road near the car park and can be seen on the left as you drive in. The one working diesel was reported 'rusak' (broken) but we were not able to check that out without further calls to management. It may be broken or maybe security just didn't want us to go and find it without specific permission. With your back to the main office, the line up of loco is; on the left 4 steam and 1 diesel. The far left steam loco is painted a brighter green than the rest. The line up on the right consists of 4 steam locos, the track closest to the centre has a loco clearly missing.

We then drove towards Pekalongan and after a bit of a struggle made our way down to the railway line at Kuripan which is in the middle of nowhere on a coastal strip where the main road goes over the hills. Although most road maps show a minor road following this line, the road we took just went down to the railway from near Sublah without even reaching the sea. The parallel road shown on the Nelles and other maps doesn't exist between Plelen and Subah. The station at Kuripan has no stopping trains and only functions as a railway signalling point despite a staff of 5 who have to get there by public bus and motorcycle. The two track mainline with right-hand running divides into 4 roads at the station. We saw one passenger train from the west and just missed another from the east.

With no way to continue (or even drive down to have a dip in the sea), we returned to the main road and had a hot, sticky drive to Pemalang with the minibus aircon not working.
23 August 2015
Sragi - the mill was shut down yesterday so today there were cane trucks parked up everywhere. The mill had restarted and cane trucks were being unloaded directly at the mill train. Everything else was at a standstill. We had No. 17 for our charter - the loco formerly used on the empty wagon transfers to the truck yard - and it ran from the depot, picked up some empty wagons just repaired but could not go around to the back of the truck yard due to the poor state of the track. After running this train back and forward on the empties line, it went on the front of a line of cane and attached chains to the first 3 loaded wagons which it ran across the crossing for us. After that we ran out of new ideas for things for it to do especially as it could not go to the back of the truck yard and as everywhere was so crowded with cane so we let the loco go back on shed. All of the other steam locos are in the depot minus their tenders which are parked outside. The locos previously out of use have been given new white numbers in a sequence by location and I assume this is so the accountants can sell them off as separate lots. The locos used last year have not been so numbered. The local story is that the mill will be closed through 2016 but re-open for the 2017 season. The cane should go to Sumberharjo and Pangka in 2016 which will keep them open a bit longer. I can only surmise that Sragi will become the main mill in this area once it restarts and that the mill railway will become a thing of the past.

We also visited Comal Mill to see the locos stored there. There are 5 locos in a line along the wall and two locos on separate tracks at the back of the shed. This seems essentially unchanged from my last visit 3 years ago. However, all these locos have also received a visit from the accountants' numbering team and outside the shed, the former water tower has been cut down and removed to Sragi.

Despite it being a Sunday, the steam outline diesel in the park at Comal was not working as the driver had not turned up!

Two diesels were 'in use' at Sragi although only the one at the mill train actually moved. The loco for the empties was parked up near the shed. There are at least 5 new tractors.

As no-one wanted to return to Sragi to see the tractors in action - and that probably after a long wait - we went to Sumberharjo, first to check out the agricultural push line on the way to the mill and then to have a sneaky peak at the mill before our charter tomorrow.

Sumberharjo - The trolley was present on the agricultural line and we chatted to the owner. The trolley was built with parts including wheels and ball races sourced in Tegal rather than being ex-sugar mill. The trolley costs Rp 15,000 to charter (75p) on the 3 km track to the fields (there is a shorter spur off to the west as well that can be used) but requires 2 pushers costing Rp 50,000 (£2.50) each. It is owned by the seller of motorcycle petrol at the road end of the system and can be used to bring farmers' produce from the fields if they charter it. We took it for an informal charter a few metres down the line to test it out. It would make very light work out of bringing back a trolley-load of produce from the fields.

We then continued to the mill where our mill management contact for tomorrow was entertaining a group of Czechs in 3 cars (2 Trabants and a Fiat) doing an overland drive from Australia to Thailand. After doing the paperwork for tomorrow, we were allowed into the shed area to see No. 6 in light steam for our charter tomorrow. All of the previous working locos are stored inside the depot but only the ones not used last year have received the accountants' numbers. Outside the shed where the old steam dump line still exists with 3 steam locos is a line up of 4 smaller diesels also painted up with numbers for disposal. The diesels retained for use are the former large Japanese diesels used for field work. We saw one parked outside the depot, one in the fulls area and another one parked up at the weighbridge. The fourth one was bringing stored empty wagons back from the line on the road approach to the mill as we left.
24 August 2015
Sumberharjo - we were at the mill around 7:30 for our charter with Ducroo & Braun No. 6. We took the loco out via the full side of the mill to the weighbridge. It then went to find some empty wagons which we took round toward the truck yard on the minor road along by the houses with street running. At the end, we put the loco in the siding and hand trammed the wagons to get the loco, tender first, on the front of the train to go back. At the weighbridge, diesel 7 was kept busy by a tractor propelling cane from the truck yard to the disused weighbridge through the connection into the fulls yard. The diesel then propelled the cane into the storage sidings in the mill yard. Diesel 8 took a long load of empties out to the truck yard and we placed No. 6 on a line of fulls for still photos. Diesel 8 derailed at the weighbridge on its return which stopped everything so at around 11:00 am we abandoned the charter having achieved most of what we had in mind. After lunch at the Winner Premiere Hotel in Pemalang (only our second lunch with beer of the whole trip) we returned to Sumberharjo to find the diesel rerailed and No. 6 outside the shed still in steam. The group went to look inside the mill. The two main stationary engines continue to work the mill train and I saw a few working steam pumps but electric motors have replaced a lot of the small engines and the tall blue steam vacuum pump was not in use. This beast which reached from floor to the roof of the mill is an amazing bit of kit but I think sadly now replaced by something more modern and less impressive.

In the mill yard, tractors made easy work pushing cane to the cable for the unloaders at the start of the mill train but the diesel cable shunting other loads struggled. I think that sums it up. Tractors can quite easily replace locos on all the jobs required around the mill and it's only a matter of time before that happens here and elsewhere. Not being prone to derailing, being independent of the railways, able to drive round problems rather than getting stuck and with spares generally available in the market makes them very useful and very flexible. Sad but true.
Click here to compare Pangka today with Pangka in 2012
25 August 2015
Pangka - we arrived for our 8 am charter to find our loco Jung No. 2 0-6-2T+T of 1915 in steam but without enough pressure to operate. However, pressure was raised in around 30 minutes and we took the loco off shed, loaded sand and took a short train of empties to the truck yard. The truck yard was empty of loaded cane wagons or trucks waiting to unload and the sun was getting high as it was past 10 am so we decided to postpone the next part of the charter until the afternoon.

In the shed, O&K No. 10 and Jung No. 3 look like runners with O&K 9 and Jung No. 1 probably not used this season. The other 3 locos probably haven't been used for a long time; Jung 5, Couillet 7 and Jung 8. I don't remember ever seeing these in use.

In the afternoon, the light was good from 2:30 so we asked for two runs from the truck yard with loaded wagons. The second of these worked especially well and the steam loco worked around the diesels and the tractor to give some very realistic photos and video. This was not so much a charter as returning the cane haul from the truck yard to the mill yard to steam for one afternoon.

Trucks were unloading directly at the mill via a new truck road across the depot patio so there was no opportunity to engage No. 2 in any cable haulage to the mill train but apart from that we covered most of what were the normal steam turns until everything changed this year.
26 August 2015
Jatibarang - the mill tour ended with a visit to this mill with a half roundhouse and a collection of dumped steam. The track to the depot is barely used and it appears that the diesels are serviced elsewhere.

We saw 2-3 diesels in use including one Schoema and one large Japanese loco.

Inside the mill, the first machine in the mill train (a shredder?) is electric powered but two Stork engines make up the rest of the mill train and there are various small pumps in use at various location. Working conditions in some areas are horrendous and I can only feel for the men who have to work there. We went down the steps to the railway which brings ash out of the furnaces and this still functions along with an elevator to bring skips of ash to load onto a road truck.

In the Agro Wisata park across the road, a Brookville is plinthed (from Cepiring?) and a Schoema sits on the head of the tourist train. I'm writing this on one of the open-air carriages. there is also a small steam loco plinthed next to the park by the mill offices.

So ends our visit to Java to see real working steam. Circumstances dictated that we had 5 more steam charters than we planned but managed to see working steam (some charter and some tourist) at nine sugar mills; Olean, Semboro*, Purwodadi*, Pagottan*, Kanigoro*, Tasik Madu, Sragi, Sumberharjo and Pangka. Only those marked * had real working steam.

See the separate Tour Conclusions page for my feelings about future visits to Indonesia. However, If enough people are interested in diesel field trains, stationary steam engines and some real and charter steam locos in Eastern and Central Java another visit is possible probably from Surabaya via Probolinggo and Situbondo to Yogyakarta. Email me to express your interest. A further tour will only happen if I receive some expressions of interest to make any detailed planning and negotiations with the guides worthwhile.
Email me to express interest in a future Java tour in 2016 or 2017. Click here.
Tour Conclusions -
click here.
Reports from Java during the 2015 Season
Tour Conclusions -
click here.
Java 2015 Conclusion and anyone for Java 2016?
Guy Tritton has prepared a report of the locos seen on this trip. Click to download the Word document.
The links below are to Flickr Albums of Photos from the August 2015 Tour. These will give an idea of the photo and video potential of the 2016 tour. I have only included mills the 2016 tour will revisit
Situbondo Area Sugar Mills - Olean, Wringinanom, Asembagus, Panji and Prajekan
Jember Area Mills - Semboro and Jatiroto
Madiun Area Mills - Rejoagung, Purwodadi, Sudhono, Kanigoro and Pagottan
Solo & Yogya Area Mills - Tasik Madu, Mudukismo and Purwosari Steam Charter
Updated & Costed Java 2016 Tour Itinerary and Tour Details