The International Steam Pages

Those were the days... Sragi Sugar Mill

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Sragi is the largest mill in Central Java and while the mill itself was modernised in the 1970s, its railway operation barely changed with the addition of a few Japanese diesels to augment the steam fleet. There were field lines around Sragi and a second set around the closed mill at Comal where some half a dozen locomotives were sub-shedded. Cane gathered around Comal was transferred overnight to Sragi until all the field lines were closed and lifted suddenly at the end of the 2003 season. The yard operation continues which is why there are no pictures of it here!

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My first sighting of a Sragi locomotive was on 28th May 1976 when I jumped off a bus on the main road between Pekalongan and Tegal to photograph Hartmann 0-8-0T #13 on a set of empties near the closed mill at Comal.

I visited the mill in 1977 and 1978 but only took portrait shots. On 21st August 1984, small OK 0-4-2T #2 was shunting empties at Comal, it was one of my favourite locomotives here, I always felt it would have fitted nicely into my backpack, especially when it was taken out of service not long after.

On 28th July 1986, I rode out south from Sragi in the morning on another Hartmann, #16. After a midday break, I was rewarded with a number of pictures on the way back to the mill. The power lines in the background seem to feature in far too many of my pictures all the way along the north coast mills.

The afternoon mud train at 15.00 was always certain to produce something photogenic. On 7th August 1988, DB 0-8-0T #4 was on the working south of the mill.

From time to time, bagasse was taken from Sragi to Comal by one of the smaller locomotives. Henschel 0-4-0T #10 was caught returning home on 11th August 1990, somewhere along the way it had picked up a single loaded cane lori.

Former Pangka Jung 0-6-2T #4 and #6 were not a great success at Sragi, no doubt their original mill had chosen them carefully! Here #4 works the afternoon mud train on 11th August 1990.

Hartmann 0-8-0T #18 was significantly different from its other three sister locomotives. Here it brings a transfer train through Comal village on 11th August 1991. I recall that the late John Tillman got so excited chasing it that he 'parked' one of our hire cars in a padi field and had to be lifted out by the locals.

Jung 0-8-0 #17 was a traditional Comal locomotive and was spotted bringing in an afternoon train behind the petrol station on the main north coast road on 27th August 1997. I was with my son Christopher who had just completed his gap year on a combined working holiday in Australia and a tramp round Indonesia.

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Rob Dickinson