The International Steam Pages

Indonesia 1977, Part 11 West Sumatra Rack Railway

Derek Huntriss had what he describes as 'his best ever trip' to Indonesia in 1977. You may like to compare what he saw with what I saw a year earlier in Java although he had less time available and also went to West and Norrth Sumatra. He and companion John Hunt very loosely attached to the Dorridge Travel Group which t hey used for cheap flights, the special train at Ambarawa and also to chase the train between Kediri and Pare. As you will see, he took every opportunity to do a bit of 'riding on the loco'.. I believe these pages will be of special interest to Indonesian enthusiasts who will be very grateful to Derek for making these pictures available. If you are one of them, please respect his copyright and thereby ensure that further such pages will appear from time to time. The "I" in the captions refers to webmaster RD who has actually written most of the captions after reference to Derek - a real role reversal as Derek has often done the same job for a number of books he has helped produce.

See also the other parts:

Padang Panjang was a junction, two lines descended from here in the directions of Padang and Solok, while a third climbed to the systems summit at Kota Baru and then descended to Bukit Tinggi. No trains were seen on this line during this brief visit as there was no longer much general goods traffic on the system. All pictures in this section were taken on 9th and 10th August 1977.

This is the shed at Padang Panjang, the Kayutanam line is on the left:

E1066 was one of later batch of these rack tanks, being of those that were built in Japan it carried a brass smokebox numberplate similar in style to those on the D52. It was being coaled apparently from a diverted coal wagon, it was not unknown for these locos to be refuelled 'on the move' while working in the middle of the train as shown below:

The first rack section was less steep and included some non-rack sections. It was not uncommon for trains to be remarshalled at the crossing loop at Kampong Tengah and a reduced load taken up the Anai Gorge. In this case separate train loads are working together in the same section:

One of the major customers for the coal on the railway was the cement works near Padang and the company built a view point in the spectacular Anai Valley. Here a single E10 blasts uphill with a set of empties, possibly the wood is for pit props.

Turning around 90 degrees the line crosses a girder bridge with a waterfall behind:

Some time later the same train tops the rise and enters Padang Panjang:

As often as not, when traffic was sufficient 2 E10s were used with one of them cut into the train. Such a working blasts through Pasarbaru on the outskirts of Padang Panjang.

This is the going away shot with the signal 'off' for entry into the station area:

Beyond Padang Panjang, the line drops to Batutabal on the shores of Lake Singkarak. This line runs through much more open countryside and a pair of E10s is seen bringing up a loaded coal train.

Click here for Part 12 - West Sumatra beyond the Mountains

Rob Dickinson