The International Steam Pages


Once upon a time, long ago,
A Contrast in Age and Size, Madiun, Indonesia, May 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.


Madiun was reputed to be one of the best steam centres remaining in Indonesia or at least that's what reports in the CRJ, based on June and July 1982 visits, had said. There had been five active D52s to shunt the yard and work three pairs of mixed trains on the main line plus three B50 available to work a once or twice daily branch line run. Nothing more on Madiun then appeared in the magazine until I had returned home after my May 1983 visit. What I found turned out to be slightly different........

First impressions were not good: three B50 lined up in a row and all very dead. Sixty five of these 2-4-0 had been built by Sharp Stewart & Co of Manchester between 1880 and 1885: weighing in at only 20.5 tons they were intended for medium-range express trains a position they fulfilled until 1900 when larger engines arrived. By 1941 only fourteen were still active and in the early 1980s, surprisingly, five remained.

By the look of the Madiun lineup though I was too late to see any in steam. B5012 was painted an attractive green with its louvre windows looking as if they were once a shade of cream.

Three old maids all in a row! From the right B5012 built in 1884, B5004 from 1880 and just managing to get into the picture on the left B5007 from 1882. Respectively 99, 103 & 101 years old!

The next day I travelled behind the other type of steamer stationed at Madiun. Seen here at Solo Balapan D52072, with tender from D52088, was one of the hundred 2-8-2 built in 1951-52 by Krupp and the most modern steam power on the Indonesian Railways. In both age and size they were a huge contrast to the diminutive B50 and at least they were still working!

The most interesting thing about this shot is the number of plates that can be seen cabside and on the tender. Rob Dickinson, on his 'Incredible Indonesia' CD, had this to say: "With no less than 6 number plates, 4 works plates and 2 Krupp triangles, these locomotives provided a much needed boost to many a locoman's finances when the time came for scrapping them." Imagine the weight involved in taking them back home though!

Back in Madiun, that afternoon, I was excited to find the third B50 in the previous day's lineup was now in steam and moving around the yard. Wood burning B5007, complete with tender from B5001, shuffled around a bit and then retired to the depot......;

.......leaving D52016, performing on the yard shunt, as the sole point of interest for the afternoon.;

By my third day at Madiun I was getting the hang of the local weather: it was either about to rain, raining, or had just finished raining. D52093 was on the yard shunt or maybe it had just arrived on the Mixed from Kediri and was now shunting its train.......

.....and later lined up next to two of the B50. Oil burner B5012 was in steam today and looking as if it was getting ready to head off somewhere: on enquiring where I was pointed in the direction of the branch so headed off for a departure shot only to see it take off light engine down the main line at the opposite end of the yard! I suppose at ninety nine years old it was allowed to be a bit contrary!

(B5012 was undoubtedly heading for Barat some way towards Solo, from which there was a short light weight branch to the air force base near Maospati - the traffic was mainly fuel for the planes. RD)

D52071 waits outside Madiun with the morning mixed from Solo for the signal to change.....

....and then gets underway again.

Madiun had been a good first stopover in Indonesia: I'd seen four D52 at work, two B50 in steam and it had shown me I'd need a lot of patience trying to get action shots. By March the following year the D52, at just over thirty years old, were no longer needed but B5007 was still active in August and may have continued to be steamed until late 1985. That would have made it 103 years old: an incredible effort for an engine to remain in use that long on a state railway system!


Rob Dickinson

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