The International Steam Pages


A Month in Java, 1976 Part 4

These pages are a sentimental record of a long gone age when all that was needed to enjoy a good grice was a smile, a lot of patience and a willingness to put up with a small amount of discomfort...

Part 1: Introduction, Jakarta to Purwokerto (including Cibatu, Banjar, Maos and Kroja)

Part 2: Purwokerto to Madiun (including Kutarjo, Yogya and Solo)

Part 3: Madiun to Blitar (including Kertosono, Kediri, Pare and Tulungagung)

Part 4: Blitar to Cepu (including Mojokerto, Bangil, Malang and Probolinggo)

Part 5: Cepu to Semarang (including Kudus, Surabaya and Purwodadi)

Part 6: Semarang to Jakarta (including Pekalongan, Tegal, Prupuk, Cirebon, Rangkasbetung)


19th May 1976

I made my way to Blitar station and boarded the train which was lit only by a few candles which soon blew out after departure. F1005 was obviously in reasonable condition as we were through Tulungagung before daylight and the sun was hardly up as we passed Kediri where C2606 had replaced B1707 on the Pare service. The only photo opportunity of the whole journey was to be at Papar where I photographed the train in the station and again leaving. 

There was no real point in reboarding and attempting a shot after arrival at Kertosono as the sun would have been immediately almost behind the train. Again there was no time to wait for the afternoon return... On the main road outside, I very quickly found a Surabaya bound bus and got off in Mojokerto. There were a fair number of locos here as expected but nothing in steam. The shedmaster posed for me in front of his unusual mixed-frame C2203:

I then caught a colt to Gempol and a bus on to Bangil where again nothing much was going on. However, I did manage a shot of C2102 inside the shed - a class I only saw in steam once, alas on a flying visit from a passing train in 1977! The sign under the number indicates it was waiting overhaul.

Ever onwards I flew towards Malang by a combination of colt and bus. I jumped into a becak and asked to be taken to the station. Much to my amazement we vanished into a maze of back streets and instead of the main (new) station I found myself at Jagalan. Better still there was a D1109 brewing up on a train to Gondangleggi (and maybe Dampit) due to depart 'soon'. This was (to me at least) a previously unreported working and a fabulous stroke of good luck. Without hesitation I jumped on board and rode out through Stasiun Kota Lama (Old Town) as far as Krebet - this working was bunker first and the loco would work back in early next morning.

There were plenty of buses back into town on the adjacent road. I made my way to the new station where I saw sister engine D1108 work up from Stasiun Kota Lama to Stasiun Kota Baru (New Town) which is where the shed is. 

I soon found a small losmen below the Alun Alun (main square with obligatory mosque on the west side) and crashed out, at the end of yet another long but satisfying day.

20th May 1976

The exact time of arrival of D1109 was uncertain so I headed about 10km out and sat and waited and in due course the train rolled past in perfect light. 

It was easy to catch it up at the next stop using one of the numerous colts:

The next stop was near the current south bus station where the Kebonagung field line crossed it:

I rode the train into Kota Lama and watched it roar up the bank to Jagalan. 

My next (and new) destination was Jember as Malang was the furthest east we had got the previous year. It was a long bus journey and I arrived in the late afternoon. 

There was no apparent steam activity just rumours of a local train with a C27 based on Banyuwangi in the far east, too far to go as I was half way through the trip and had a long list of more likely operations to check out; I had to be satisfied with photographing some dumped D50 2-8-0s in the half light, a class not seen elsewhere on the island although they did then survive active in South Sumatra as I found out later.

21st May 1976

This was another pre-dawn start, this time on a train which would put me down in Problolinggo on its journey to Surabaya. I remember that several pages of a paperback had to be sacrificed during an unexpected visit to the toilet; no doubt caused by a mixture of tiredness and very basic food. Another nasty surprise was to see us fly through Jati station without stopping, but very soon I was able to alight at the main station and find my way back to Jati on the east side of town which was the site of the loco shed. There were quite a few small locos here and not very much going on, but suddenly there was a whistle and C1906 came round the bend with a set of molasses tankers from the sugar mill at Wonolangan. 

I soon found that it was to make a further excursion to the end of the branch at Pajarakan which would nicely fill in most of the rest of the day. Eventually we set off with a couple of box vans, with a water carrier which consisted of a flat wagon and the tanks off a derelict TC10 from the Balung to Ambulu system. 

The line had obviously seen better days (when I returned a year later it was deemed too dangerous to use) and progress was slow. We passed a young lady taking her bath in the stream next to the line, taken by surprise she used her hands and arms to restore some modesty. However, when the young foreigner waved to her she waved back without hesitation! At Pajarakan, we reversed down the spur to the mill but unfortunately there was no return traffic on offer. 

Back in Probolinggo, I quickly boarded a bus for Surabaya and made my way to Wonokromo to check on the health of the steam tram. 

It was indeed active and B1240 whistled its way in just after I arrived. 

Unfortunately, I had no idea that it was a 5 day operation and as it was Friday, the next tram was some 60 hours away and it immediately vanished into its shed:

I quickly rushed to find a train a train to Cepu. On arrival, the station road was found to to be lined with losmen and a late arrival presented no great problems.

22nd May 1976

In Cepu, we had a seen a shed full of gleaming steam locos in 1975, now I hoped to find what they actually did to earn a living. The answer appeared to be not very much. The local trains to and from Bojonegoro were in the hands of C51s but these were not Cepu locos. Positioning myself east of the station I was able to photograph one such departure with C5107:

However, the real bonus was the unexpected appearance of C1206 on a short working to the oil refinery - Java's first and which is still in use today primarily as a training institution. 

Transferring to the west end, I walked out some way to find some kind of spot for C2857's late morning departure to Gambringan. 

And that seemed to be the measure of the activity on offer, the attractive branch over the hills to Blora being dieselised. I made enquiries and found my way to the depot of the Cepu Forestry Railway forestry railway which we had had no time for in 1975, it was some way out in the north-east of the town. The shed was quiet, I guess one, at least, of the big Berliners was probably away in the forest and due to return late in the day. However, one of the small DB 0-6-0T was reported to be due back quite soon as it was Saturday. In those days, I had no idea that it was probably working just a couple of kilometres down the road in the log yard but I waited patiently and in due course it appeared.. 


Part 5: Cepu to Semarang (including Kudus, Surabaya and Purwodadi)


Rob Dickinson

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