The International Steam Pages
Steam in Java 2010
I have lost count of my visits to Java since I first went in 1975. In the 35 years since then, I have missed just 7 years, all but two in the 1980s. I have often described my relationship as like a public love affair. I am proud that in the 20 years I ran tours here between 1991 and 2010, it never became a circus with the staff 'on the make'. Now that the level of reliable daily real steam has reached the level that cannot support a further tour in a way I would feel comfortable with, it's time to quit. My 2010 group ended up paying for guaranteed steam in too many mills and that is a path I would not want to follow again. It's not the cost which is actually modest, it's the principle; I don't listen to the siren voices which say it doesn't matter because in a few years it will all be gone anyway, most of them come from tour operators who sold their souls to the Devil many years ago in the name of making a living. One day Yuehong and I will be back, I am sure, to have a last private look, I just hope no-one else spoils it in the meantime...
This is the 2010 report (last updated on 21st August 2010) earlier reports are still available:
In 2002 I produced a series of pages containing photographs of the best steam action then, it's well worth a look but very little of it is still possible in 2010.
The mills are arranged from West to East, North Coast then South Coast with the Private Mills at the end. Click on the mill in the Index below (mills with no link no longer use steam, but may have locos stored on site), I have now added 'how to get there' information for the mills with active steam in 2008, but Jan Willem's 2006 guide has more comprehensive information:
The numbers are those used in the reports, they have no official status.
For some (by and large unrepeatable) historic pictures see:
The Main 2010 News in Brief Contents
2006/7 were probably the best sugar seasons in Java for some years, and even in 2008/9 first time visitors seem broadly satisfied by what was on offer given that the real steam clock stands at 3 seconds to midnight here and 2 seconds everywhere in the world). Of course, it often differed from what was promised by some tour operators but that was down to a combination of their misleading advertising, sloppy proof reading and lack of good quality local contacts. The main offenders as usual were the late and unlamented Globe Steam (consistently overstating the amount of active steam and offering a Borsig at Sragi for a start) and the Railway Touring Company (numerous and noted as appropriate under the individual mills, but 'many steam locomotives in action' at Semboro took the cherry for 2007 and, amazingly, again for 2008). Their 2010 page includes pictures of two locomotives (at Tersana Baru and Gempolkerep) which won't turn a wheel in 2010 and E1060 which is now in West Sumatra! You have to wonder whether their researchers ever bother to read the detailed reports on these pages.... There were few changes apparent in 2008, but 2009 was not a good year for steam and 2010 even worse. Click on the links for more details, by and large milling was expected to start between mid-May and early June, varying slightly from mill to mill.
Click here for the unofficial Ambarawa Railway Museum website. There is no regular public service, trains have to be chartered.
I ran 3 specials at Ambarawa using B2503, E1060 and C1218 as usual in August 2006 and tried to do the same in July 2008, although C1218 was a last minute failure. I have posted a page of pictures of C1218 at work in 2006. E1060 has since returned to West Sumatra and now C1218 has headed for Solo where it is working tourist trains on part of the Wonogiri branch including street running in the city.
Note that as Ambarawa is in the mountains, the weather may not always be kind, even in the dry season. Here is B2503 during a late afternoon runpast in 2003.
C1218 on the bridge south of Jambu station in August 2006, whether it will return in the near future depends on the success or otherwise of the Solo operation.
Cepu Forest Railway Contents
Regular logging trains ceased some time ago and much of the system has been lifted. The only way to see this unique operation was to organise your own special logging trains which I did regularly once or twice a year since 1997 and did again for what I thought would be a final time in July 2005, although the railway was repaired for the 2008/09/10 seasons. However, the political anarchy which is taking over the country has seen large parts of the forest devastated and in September 2001 Perhutani lost its Smartwood accreditation which has stopped legal exports of teak from Indonesia to Europe. They were planting on an 80 year cycle but cutting on a 10 year cycle. In 2003/4 we didn't load much wood but we still got some good pictures. There is a full illustrated report of one of the 2002 trips available, the picture below is from 2006 when we were restricted to the log yard owing to the damage to a bridge, despite appearances the locomotive could not move itself..... This is a railway I no longer wish to deal with, somehow the trains always seem to run for tour parties but behind the scenes, it is a constant battle with a management in both Cepu and Jakarta which at best is incompetent and at worst totally untrustworthy.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson