The International Steam Pages


Sawahlunto Railway Museum, 2012

This is part of our report on our visit to West Sumatra in late 2012.  You can read about the rest of it from the links below.



A small museum has been established at the former Sawahlunto Station, it's well worth a short visit with a number of models, old photographs and small relics.

The signal cabin has been preserved (but alas not the cables and most of the signals, although they are all present and working at Solok and Batu Tabal) and at the north end of the platform is a small tourist office whose lady in residence arranged our 'homestay' at Talawi when it turned out there was not a room to be had in town because of the birthday celebrations. There is a board outside with a list of accommodation in the area.

For me one of the most interesting parts of the visit was walking to the 875 metre railway tunnel on the line south to Muarakalaban, I remembered it from a very smokey journey on board a coal burning F10 2-12-2T back in 1978. The sleepers on this line have traditionally been iron, the dates varied enormously. Assuming that the 'NIS' refers to one of Java's railways then the 1930 one is second hand. The final one is from or was intended for a rack section as it has bolt holes for the cog system, others still have the bolts..

This is the tunnel's north portal, the second picture is from the local museum, I think it is of the south portal at the time of its completion, the other tunnels I know of here are all on the rack section.

Eddy Mardijanto of Bandung had advised that E1060 a.k.a. Mak Hitam would be working on 30th November 2012, but an early morning visit found it cold with its travelling companion parked outside the shed in need of some cosmetic restoration:

Looking into the locked shed, there was no sign of any life, but on my second visit I was assured it was to be steamed and indeed the third visit was greeted with the welcome sight and smell of coal burning.

Alas, it was not to make a run - and my budget certainly did not extend to the IDR 5,000,000 needed for a return trip to Muarakalaban. The sole purpose of the steaming was for the loco and coach to sit next to Sawahlunto Station during an evening buffet dinner to launch the town's 124th birthday party. By now I had bumped into the town's mayor twice and introduced him to the daughter of a former mayor whom I had met over breakfast at our hotel.

We passed on the short trip from the shed to the station as it was in the twilight of a cloud covered day, but we were very welcome to attend the event and someone had kindly provided illumination for the night photography as I had neither tripod nor flash and indeed just a toy camera with me, although I would like to think you could not have told this from the results.

Afterwards, each of the music festival guests was invited to 'sing for their supper'.

(The picture behind is of 'E1060' at Padang Panjang. Of course, being one of the Esslingen batch, unlike the Japanese examples, it never carried a number plate in original service. The one in the picture is a crude 'Photoshop' job - even the perspective is wrong as the plate is full frontal and not side !)

Having had little sleep for the two previous nights, we were extremely glad to hit the hay, the next day was party time!


Rob and Yuehong Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk