Revised Itinerary 11 January 2016
Summary version (scroll down for the detailed itinerary)

Day -2 (2 August)
Possible date to depart home to reach start of tour on time

Day -1 (3 August)
Arrive Surabaya – Surabaya Airport Utami hotel

Day 1 (4 August)
Tour arrangements start - Meet up at Utami Hotel – Krembung PG – Modjokerto – Gempolkrep PG – Modjokerto

Day 2 - (5 August)
Modjokerto – Rejoagung PG - Madiun

Day 3 – (6 August)
Madiun - Purwodadi (Real Steam) & Sudhono PG (Steam Charter?) - Madiun

Day 4 – (7 August)
Madiun - Pagottan (Real Steam – fireless) & Kanigoro PG (Real or Charter Steam?) - Madiun

Day 5 – (8 August)
Madiun - Rejosari PG (Steam charter?) - (Purwodadi PG) - Solo

Day 6 – (9 August)
Solo – C12/D14 charter – Tasik Madu PG (Steam Charter) - Solo

Day 7 – (10 August)
Solo – Madukismo PG - Yogya

Day 8 – (11 August)
Yogya - Train to Probolinggo - Probolinggo

End of Guiding/Driving by Agus (Yogyakarta) – start of Guiding by Combo (from Probolinggo)

(Option to leave the tour here by train to Surabaya or Jakarta.)
(Option to join the tour here by taxi/private car transfer from Surabaya to Probolinggo.)

Day 9 - (12 August)
Probolinggo - Kedawung PG including field lines - Probolinggo

Day 10 – (13 August)
Probolinggo - Wonolangan & Pajarakan PG - Probolinggo

Day 11 – (14 August)
Probolinggo - Gending PG – Jember

Day 12 – (15 August)
Jember - Jatiroto PG (Railbus Charter?) - Jember

Day 13 - (16 August)
Jember - Semboro PG (Real Steam fireless - Steam Charter 1) - Jember

Day 14 – (17 August)
Jember - Semboro PG (Steam Charter 2?) - Jember

Day 15 – (18 August)
Jember – Prajekan & Panji PG - Situbondo

Day 16 – (19 August)
Situbondo - Olean PG including field lines (Steam Charter or Real Steam) - Situbondo

Day 17 – (20 August)
Situbondo - Wringinanom PG including field lines - Situbondo

Day 18 – (21 August)
Situbondo - Asembagus PG including field lines - Situbondo

Day 19 – (22 August)
Situbondo - extra day for the field lines at Wringinanom, Olean and/or Asembagus – Situbondo

Day 20 – (23 August)
Situbondo – Tulangan PG? - Surabaya Airport (for 14:00 or later check in?) - End of Tour

Java 2016 Sugar Mill Tour
A deposit of £415 (approximately $600) secures your place on this tour. Your deposit is fully refundable until the tour has 6 full participants signed up and the tour is declared go or 30 May whichever comes later.

In the event that we do not have 6 people signed up by 30 May, a decision will be taken as to whether to run a 'small group tour' or whether to cancel the tour. Because our tour guides have set aside time to guide this tour, if the tour is cancelled they will lose work and income for that period. For that reason, they will be keen to operate this tour even with a small group. A small group implies that there may also be cost-saving measures required or a tour price surcharge. However, the tour will essentially still operate to the itinerary as planned. Three to four people signed up for the complete tour are normally required to operate a 'small group tour'. In the event that I have to cancel the tour due to insufficient participants, your deposit will be fully refundable.

Once the tour is declared go, you deposit is partially refundable. The level of the refund will depend on the amount of time and expense already incurred on your behalf.

If you cancel 30 days or less before the tour starts, your withdrawal would have a major effect on tour economics and your deposit is not refundable.

In the very unlikely event that I need to cancel the tour for whatever reason after declaring it 'go', the limit of my liability will be the full refund of any monies paid to me by those who have signed up for the tour. I would only take this drastic step in the most extreme circumstances after exploring all of the less drastic alternatives.
Click here for my standard tour terms and conditions
Java Narrow Gauge Sugar Mill Tour
Real & Charter Steam,
Mills with Diesel-worked Fieldlines
Stationary steam engines
& Rarely Visited Sugar Mills Tour
6 – 25 August 2016
Introduction & Tour Pricing

This tour should appeal to industrial and narrow gauge rail enthusiasts who are not just interested in steam locomotives. It visits sugar mills in the East of Java which offer real working steam, diesel field and yard operations, steam charters and stationary steam engines. A total of 22 mills will be visited with permission arranged for and paid by our guides. It starts and end in Surabaya (which is much more manageable as an airport and a city than Jakarta) and involves limited road travel – the one long distance journey is by daytime train. Surabaya can be reached from Jakarta, Denpasar Bali, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Perth & Melbourne (among other airports).

On this tour, Agus (based in Yogyakarta) will be our driver/guide from Surabaya to Yogyakarta 4 August – 11 August and Combo (based in Situbondo) will be our guide from Probolinggo to Surabaya 11 August until 23 August. I worked with both guides in 2015 and they do a good job.

The provisional price for this 20 day tour (ground arrangements only - 6 August – 25 August) is US$3050 (currently £2,100, €2,790). Our guides have requested pricing and payment in US dollars so that will be the currency used for all tour pricing and accounting.

The tour needs a minimum of 6 people (including me) to operate and will be limited to 12 people maximum.

You can secure a place on this tour with a refundable deposit of £415 (roughly $600).

The price includes land arrangements for 20 days with:

single room, en suite, air conditioning
breakfasts unless noted
permission to visit each mill once
guide, driver and private transport (minibus)
water during the day (hotels normally provide free bottled water in the room but extra will be available on the bus)
the services of an English tour leader who will normally be able to arrange lunch and dinner in the evening

but does not include:

all lunches and dinners
all charters (except Olean and one Semboro charter)
possible charges if we revisit a mill or if mill management decide to charge us extra to see the stationary engines in the mill (we avoided both extra charges in 2015)

All mill permissions are included in the tour price but all charters except Olean and the first Semboro charter will at extra charge. Those signed up will be consulted about which charters to sign up for once the charter price (and the per person price) is known. Based on last year – if we have 8 people – the average cost will be US$27 (currently £20, €24) per person per charter. The additional cost of all the proposed charters not included in the tour price (with 6 steam charters and 1 possible railbus charter) could be US$190 (currently £140, €168).

Should we visit a sugar mill compound twice or if we want to wander into the milling area to see the stationary steam locos, the mill management may decide to charge us extra for this but these potential extra charges were avoided on our 2015 tour and are unlikely to add to the additional costs of the tour.

Participation in part of the tour is possible (ideally 4 – 11 August or 11 – 23 August). Prices for part tours are available on request.

Our guides may ask us to remit some money before the start of the trip to their bank accounts. Otherwise, the balance of the tour price can be paid in US dollars at the start of the tour.
The links below are to Flickr Albums of Photos from the August 2015 Tour. I hope these will give an idea of the photo and video potential of this trip. 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
Revised Itinerary 11 January 2016
The tour in more detail

Day -2 (2 August)
Depart Europe for Jakarta or other Asian hub with flights to Surabaya such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and (not daily) Bangkok or depart Australia for Bali.

Day -1 (3 August) arrive Surabaya – Surabaya Airport Utami hotel, Jalan Raya Juanda overnight (own expense, book online with or other online booking websites)

Day 1 (4 August) Surabaya Airport hotel
Meet up at Utami Hotel – Krembung PG – Modjokerto – Gempolkrep PG – Modjokerto
Meet up at our hotel near Surabaya Airport for 9 am with our driver/guide Agus. Drive via Krembung Mill to Modjokerto. Afternoon visit to Gempolkrep Mill.
Rarely visited mills these days between Surabaya and Madiun with diesel loco operation. Gempolkrep has an impressive collection of stored steam locos. Krembung has the excellent backdrop of a nearby Volcano.

Day 2 - (5 August) Madiun – Rejoagung PG
Rejoagung is a private mill with lots of small diesels in use. Of steam, little trace remains apart from a half roundhouse and turntable and a mallet plinthed outside the mill.

Day 3 – (6 August) Purwodadi & Sudhono PG
Visit to Purwodadi (real working steam) and Sudhono (steam charter). There should be time to have a further look at Purwodadi after Sudhono on our drive back to Madiun.

Day 4 – (7 August) Pagottan & Kanigoro PG
Visit to Pagottan (3 0-10-0T fireless-steam conversions) and Kanigoro (possible real working steam with O&K 0-8-0T No. 6 or No. 11 ). If steam is not working at Kanigoro (it was only used on some days in 2015), we will request a charter here.

Day 5 – (8 August) Rejosari PG - steam charter – we will request gear drive 0-8-0T No. 10 Salak) – (extra look at Purwodadi PG) - Solo

Day 6 – (9 August) Solo - C12 charter* – Tasik Madu PG - if, as expected, regular working steam has finished, we will charter a loco to shunt the yard. We will request big 0-10-0 No. 6 (VI).
(Recent reports suggest a new loco may be available - a D14 10 loco from Taman Mini Jakarta – if available we should request this instead of the C12.)

Day 7 – (10 August) Yogya – Madukismo PG - diesel operation but reported to have re-opened one field line. Madukismo has a fleet of VEB (East German) diesels.

Day 8 – (11 August) Train to Probolinggo

End of Guiding/Driving by Agus (Yogyakarta) – start of Guiding by Combo (from Probolinggo)

(Option to leave the tour here by train to Surabaya or Jakarta.)

Today is a transfer day and I have chosen to do this by train which should offer much more interest than driving. Agus will drive us to Yogyakarta station to catch our train and then say goodbye.

Daytime train Yogyakarta - Probolinggo.

Logawa 188

Lempuyangan (LPN)
Probolinggo (PB)
8h 36m

We will be met by Combo our guide for the second part of the tour. Transfer to our hotel in Probolinggo.

(Option to join the tour here by taxi/private car transfer from Surabaya to Probolinggo.)

Day 9 - (12 August) Kedawung PG including field lines
Kedawung, still has diesel field workings (and a flat crossing with the national railway cape gauge line on the northern line) and we will devote one whole day to visiting the mill and to search out the trains in the field.

Day 10 – (13 August) Wonolangan & Pajarakan PG
Wonolangan has working diesels and stored steam as well as the tombs of a British family who once managed the mill. Wonolangan has one steam loco stored and diesel yard work.

Day 11 – (14 August) Gending PG – Jember
There is usually plenty happening at this 600mm gauge mill including transfers from the truck yard to the mill yard with a short street running section.

Day 12 – (15 August) Jatiroto PG – with railbus charter if this is possible
Day at Jatiroto Mill (a similar era mill to Semboro also with extensive field lines but with dumped steam and active diesels) and in the afternoon we will attempt to find diesel field trains returning to the mill. We will enquire about a diesel railcar charter to help us find these trains some distance from the mill.

Day 13 – (16 August) Semboro PG – with steam charter 1
Visit to Semboro Mill for real working fireless steam (2 O&K 0-6-0F Fireless No. 2 & 3 in the morning and a steam charter to the fields (late morning to sunset). Semboro has 2 steam locos that can be chartered (No. 15 0-4-4-0T O&K Mallet and much more recent Jung 0-6-0T No. 29 of 1961) but only one steam crew to operate them. We will have both locos over two days.

Day 14 - (17 August) Semboro PG – with steam charter 2
All day steam charter at Semboro with the second steamable loco checking out as much of the mills extensive field lines as possible and trying to find field trains (diesel hauled) in the fields before we return to the mill

Day 15 – (18 August) Jember - Prajekan & Panji PG - Situbondo
At Prajekan, molasses tanks are moved by rail from the mill along the main road to a storage tank. This actions happens every 8 hours at 6 am, 2 pm and 10 pm and involves several trips each time. As long as we can be sure of the afternoon workings, we will stop for lunch at the Ijen View Hotel & Resort in Bondowoso on our way there. Otherwise we will drive to Prajekan directly to find out what is happening when.

Day 16 – (19 August) Olean PG including field lines – steam charter if steam not normally in use.
This mill may use steam in the fields but the moment they spot an enthusiast these days, they will send out a diesel and make steam optional as a charter. This charter is already included in the tour price. The steam loco should return from the fields before sunset giving some good sunset shots. The mill interior is worth a visit for all kinds of steam era machinery.

Day 17 – (20 August) Wringinanom PG including field lines
Wringinanom is much like Olean including a wonderul steam-operated mill. Field working is more extensive and more active than Olean using a mixture of large and small diesels. The lines to the south cross a river bridge (the replacement bridge post flooding is not that photogenic) to enter an extensive area served only by the smaller diesels.

Day 18 – (21 August) Asembagus PG including field lines
Asembagus is also much like Olean although the mill interior is the least impressive of the 3 mills. Again, field working is more extensive and more active than Olean using a mixture of large and small diesels as well as a line to a bagged sugar store near the port which involves a regular box-car train – now unique in Java.The small port is also of interest.

Day 19 – (22 August) extra day for the field lines at Wringinanom, Olean and/or Asembagus – or to do the railway walk on the old PNKA line from Situbondo Station to Wringinanom – or shopping in Situbondo market – both of these would be morning activities

Day 20 – (23 August) Situbondo - Surabaya Airport (for late afternoon flights)
Transfer to Surabaya Airport, with possible visit en route to Tulangan PG (diesel yard work?) and continue to the airport for departures departing late afternoon/evening, (or hotel in Surabaya, train to Jakarta or continue on to other destinations in Indonesia). End of tour.
If you've got this far, I recommend that you also read the 2015 Java Tour Report - click here to read it. For convenience, I'm pasting my 2015 tour conclusions below as they looked forward to 2016
Java August 2015 Tour Conclusions & a look forward to 2016

This conclusion presents a positive view on the 2015 tour and the future although the loss of much real working steam this year means that this isn't easy for me. However, I'm ready to go back to Java again and I believe that the positives still outweigh the negatives.

Mills with working steam locos - we were hoping for 9 mills but shortly after our arrival in Indonesia, it became clear that this had reduced to only 4. We managed steam at all of the mills we planned but 4 were charters and at Tasikmadu, we saw only the two steam tourist trains working. At Olean and Pangka, we were able to put the clock back and see the steam locos operating as they had in 2014 and earlier. At Sragi and Sumberharjo the options were more limited and we could only recreate a pale version of what it used to be. I would not expect to visit Sragi, Sumberharjo or Pangka again and Tasikmadu is marginal unless you visit for Independence Day.

Stationary steam - in the main, the large engines in the mill train survive but the smaller steam pumps are tending to be replaced by electric motors. However, there is still a lot left to see and just walking around inside a mill is a very moving experience. This is definitely a highlight for many visitors. Despite the indication that mills in the PTPN XI group would like to charge visitors to see the railways and the mills as two separate items, we paid just to see the railways and all those who wanted to see inside the mill at any mill were able to do so without additional payment.

Beer - we had beer available at all hotels except Bandungan above Ambarawa. Here, we found beer in a local restaurant in the market area. We had beer at three lunches during the trip. Although 2 of these lunches were hotel restaurants, the third was at the RM Malang restaurant in Situbondo. Beer is no longer available in convenience stores or in any of the supermarkets we shopped in. If you are happy to pay a hotel price to drink beer (around £2.50 for a large bottle in 2015) with dinner, you would be happy enough with the situation.

Statistics - we saw 16 locos in steam (some of the group joined an Ambarawa charter to take their total to 17). This was at 10 locations. We had steam locos in action at the 9 steam mills we planned to visit to see real, working steam although 4 of these were charters. We visited 5 of the 6 mills known to have diesel field work and a total of 18 sugar mills in all. Of the steam locos we saw in steam, 5 of these were fireless locos.

PTKA - the modern version of the state railway - tickets can now be booked online and collected from any station with a booking code. Trains offer a more comfortable way to cover the longer distances. These trains also provide something to look out for while visiting mills, or travelling between hotels.

The people remain as friendly as ever and we did not encounter any worrying situations during the trip. The sub-group who included Borobodur in their side trip found the pedlars and hawkers at the major tourist site unpleasant (although the site is still wonderful) but this was not the case on the main tour which avoided general tourist sites.
Steam Charters 2015 and predictions for 2016

Steam charters should be possible at the following mills. If we have them, there will be an extra charge which probably will be in addition to the basic tour price. Those mills are Olean, Semboro, Rejosari, Sudhono and Tasik Madu.

Olean - assuming steam not doing field work and a steam loco available - steam to take empties to the fields in the morning and bring in full in the afternoon

Semboro - two locos available (we could push the boat out and have both) - last active Mallet and last steam loco supplied to a sugar mill in Java (along with a sister at Jatiroto). The fields are extensive and justify an extra day using both steam locos to explore the field lines.

Rejosari, They have several stored steam and at least one - the jackshaft drive O&K loco Salak can be steamed. However, there is very little track on which it can operate (say 50 yards). An interesting loco but with nothing to do and no space to do it in.

Sudhono - the one steamable loco has quite a lot of track it can run over but it will be difficult to find anything 'realistic' for it to do apart from pulling empties from the mill to the new truck yard and pushing full loads towards the mill.

Tasik Madu - if we want to see big VI 0-10-0 in action, we probably need to charter it. We could charter it to be part of the Independence Day parade - which is something it has done in the past but not in 2015.

The tour price will include single rooms, breakfasts (which should be included with the price of the hotel rooms - they were in 2015), all group transport for the duration of the tour, permission to visit sugar mills and photograph or video their railways, the services of the English tour leader and the Indonesian tour guide and bus driver

Not included are your transport and other arrangements before and after the tour which is ground-arrangements only, lunch, dinner and any other food and incidentals, mill visit charges if we need to visit a mill more than once and are charged again for the second or subsequent visit and entry into the mill itself should management insist on an extra payment for this (neither of these happened in 2015), any steam or other charters which will be decided by group majority decision either before the start of the tour or during the tour.

In 2015, steam charters cost between Rp 2.5 million and Rp 3.2 million (depending on the mill and the loco chartered) which was affordable when split between a group of 6 or more. Charters seem inevitably to involve tips for the loco crews and security officials that are not asked for if we visit to see real working steam and diesels. These extra costs will also have to be borne by the group.

My own preference would be to limit charters to Olean (steam loco to take empties to the field in the morning and bring back fulls in the afternoon), Semboro (steam or diesel charter to find the real field trains) and Jatiroto (railcar or diesel charter to find the real field trains). However, charters may also be possible at Rejosari, Sudhono and Tasik Madu should the majority of the group request this.

All potential steam charters mentioned above were possible in 2015 at relatively short notice for the charter amount indicated above. All of the locos were in reasonable shape to do what was requested. As time goes on, these charter costs may rise and the steam locos may become unreliable and/or the steam loco crews may retire. While charters are likely to be an aspect of this tour, the tour is also for those interested in diesel field work, real, working steam locos or to see the whole sugar process from hand cane cutting in the fields, water buffalo and oxen hauling the cane out of the field on temporary track, the use of railways to get the cane to the mill and the crushing and refining process which uses traditional stationary steam engines and steam pumps.

It is no longer feasible to offer a Java Sugar Mill tour which includes real or charter steam at every mill visited. If joining this tour, please be aware that there will be some days without active steam locomotives.

John Raby
September 2015
24 March 2016 - I am postponing the proposed 2016 August Java tour to July - August 2017. This is due to insufficient interest 4 months before the start of the tour. I'm postponing rather than cancelling as I still believe that visiting heritage Java sugar mills is worthwhile from a industrial narrow gauge perspective but I will monitor the 2016 sugar season and make chances to the plans as necessary before adapting them in September 2016. I'll also reflect on the reasons for the lack of interest in the current tour proposal and I welcome your input on this. I'm aware of another 2016 tour which is based on 'steam every day' with lots of charters but I still prefer to offer a tour which allows you to see how the sugar mills operate today with a mix of steam and diesel and includes the last few mills which have fieldwork (all diesel these days) and a good look at the stationary steam engines insidethe mills along with a lot of dumped steam. Details below relate to the postponed 2016 tour and have not been updated.

Should you plan to make an independent visit to Java in 2016 and want to be put in touch with my Java guides Agus and Combo, please email me and I will be pleased to put you in touch with them. They both come highly recommended.
This page is no longer being updated and will disappear in September 2016 - please click here for my new website
IMG_6756 (1)

Tour postponed until 2017