The International Steam Pages
Steamy Java Sugar Mill Tour 2010, Probolinggo Promenade
This series of pages from July and August 2010 records our travels from China to Malaysia and on to Java, Indonesia where we were hosting the 'Steamy Java Tour 2010'. Click here for the main Winds of Change index page.
This was another not very good day which started with the awful news that good friend for many years, Chris Walker, had passed away unexpectedly.
The plan was to take a train from Probolinggo to Solo and we had a choice of ones scheduled at 07.00 and 11.00. The former would have required an unnaturally early start, so at 10.30 we found ourselves at the station looking to board the all ekonomi class Sri Tanjung, at least as far as Surabya where we could change to the Sancaka which had better accommodation. That idea lasted two minutes when we discovered that the Sancaka was booked out. Further the Sir Tanjung was running more than half an hour late and was likely to be even later as it would have to be held for the eastbound Mutiara which had precedence. So not for the first time, there was no choice but to relax and enjoy Probolinggo station. I cannot be absolutely certain, but I believe the second last time I saw a steam loco here was in 1978 when C1105 was pilot on 4th June - coincidentally Peter Nettleship was with me both on this and that occasion. Afterwards, I think I saw a C11 here again in 1986 which was certainly the last PJKA steam locomotive I ever saw working.
It's a well maintained station not least because the staff go out of their way to remove the rubbish which is thrown out of passing trains:
In June/July nearby Bangil had lost its traditional semaphores to 'traffic lights' but the system here was under repair - the cabin is on the platform. There is now a 'no entry' notice on the door but I was still as welcome as ever inside. The only telephones which really matter are the manual ones at the end next to the fan. The key diagrams on the wall are a map of Probolinggo station and the graphical timetable. The line on the bottom left of the map is the now abandoned harbour branch and the timetable covers the area between Klakah (south-east, upper) and Grati (west, lower) unusually it runs from midday to midday which meant that our train was the last but one on the right upper, crossing another train here and becoming the last one on the right lower.
At either end, because of the maintenance, what appeared to me (in my ignorance) to be the electro-mechanical connections were exposed.
Outside, one of the wheels/levers was in pieces. Looking up I spotted a line of vintage rolling stock dumped in a disused siding. The nearest van was clearly inscribed 'Dipo Lok Jati' - Jati being the former locomotive shed at the small station at the east end of the town. Unfortunately, it had lost its axle box covers but the wagon next to it had its and it bore 'SS 1920'. I didn't investigate the newer bogie van further down which also had 'Jati' on it.
Despite the erection of fences and the presence of a ticket inspection gate, the station area was still in use as a public footpath, both by the goats and, since this was Friday prayer time, men going to the nearby mosque on the alun-alun. In the yard which is also disused are some very old rails, mostly made by Krupp and dating from the 1880s like this example.
Alas the BB304 on the left was not heading our train, it was not a train we should not have seen which was due to reverse at Bangil and go up to Malang. The CC203 was on the eastbound Mutiara.
When we were finally able to board our train, the one item of interest which I wanted to look out for was the flat crossing between the mainline and the Kedawung Sugar Mill 700mm system. I almost missed it and in this picture, it is part obscured by the motorcyclist quickly passing behind our train. The disc signal on the right next to the hut and the rail crossing are clearly still in use, being one of the few left in Java with the closure of many field lines. In fact it may even be unique now as off the top of my head, the only other ones which may still be working are those west of Jatiroto - I haven't used that section of railway for a long, long time but I did see three lines heading towards the railway coming down on the bus the previous day. A Google Earth search might give some indication. One of the Wringinanom field lines crosses the Panurukan branch but in this case the cape gauge line is effectively closed.
The train meandered on, having completely lost its path. We were held in Surabya Gubeng until the Sancaka was safely away and thereafter we made fair progress until Madiun by which time it was 18.30 (20 minutes after we should have been in Solo) and the evening expresses were bearing down on us. It was time to get off and we took a becak to a small hotel knowing we had but a relatively short hop left next day.
Amazingly, Scott Jesser, who was on the parallel loco tour, was on his way to Surabaya to meet his wife when he stopped here a few days before to photograph two diesel locomotives on this very crossing:
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson