The International Steam Pages


Once upon a time, long ago,
A Disappointing Day at Rangkasbitung, West Java, 1983

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.


Indonesian main line steam was in terminal decline when I visited in June 1983 and two nights and one day at Rangkasbitung revealed just how grim the situation could be.

The most recent reports in CRJ were from nine months earlier saying there was one B51 available for the Labuan train, a BB10 on hand as spare, and for the run to Cilegon three C27 were serviceable with one also acting as the Rangkasbitung pilot. It sounded promising but that was nine months earlier...

BB1005, a Mallet 0-4-4-2T of German origin built around the turn of the twentieth century, sits outside the Rangkasbitung shed. It looked as if it could have been used recently and was certainly a lot cleaner than other relics in the yard but CRJ later in the year reported its boiler certificate had already expired.

Five derelicts, outside the shed, all probably being used as a source of spare parts for what turned out to be only two working locos. The two C27 4-6-4T were part of a 39 strong class built between 1916 and 1922 by Swiss, Dutch and English builders.

Another two derelicts: this time a B51 and another C27. Forty four B51 were built between 1900 and 1909 by Dutch and German manufacturers.

After shots of the derelicts there was nothing much to do apart from hanging around and seeing what, if anything, was going to eventuate. Two mainline passenger trains crossing gave some opportunity for a picture. There seems to be a large number of cab riders on BB30314!

The Labuan train was supposed to arrive just before 8am. It was after ten before it turned up and I managed to miss the arrival. B5138 does look good though as it unloads its passengers including a roof traveller. B5138 was a 4-4-0, two cylinder compound, built by Werkspoor in 1909 and I think the sole surviving member of the class still working.

B5138 then moved to the servicing area for a couple of hours...

: ....... before rejoining its train and then trundling off, tender first, through the long grass with the return working to Labuan.

I didn't managed a picture of the C27 working......it left before dawn and the sun was in such a shocking angle on its return that photography was almost impossible.

CRJ reported that the Labuan train was suspended for 2-3 months later in 1983 whilst B5138 received driving wheels and other parts from B5132 (shown in derelict row earlier). The service resumed but by April 1984 had again been suspended and from what I can work out was never restarted again. The Cilegon service was dieselised sometime in 1984.


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk