The International Steam Pages


Industrial Railways in North Sumatra, Indonesia, 2017
Bakri, Bunut

Scott Jesser reports on his explorations, of course steam finished here some 20 years ago. Use the links to view the other locations, in each case click the thumbnails for larger images:


Bakrie, Bunut

PT Bakrie Sumatera Plantations’ rubber factory and palm oil mill is 160 kilometres south-east of Medan, at Bunut, just outside the town of Kisaran in the Asahan Regency. A 600mm gauge rail system is used to deliver latex from several collection points on the plantation to the factory. In the past, the rail system was also used to carry oil palm bunches, but this traffic now arrives at the mill by road only.

In 2008, PT Bakrie’s operational locomotive roster included one Ruston & Hornsby 48DL 4wDM, three Schöma CFL-45B 4wDH units and one Diema DFL60-1.2 on the 600mm gauge. One 1067mm gauge Schöma CFL-60 DCL is used to shunt the connection with the PT Kereta Api on the western side of the mill site. The 1067mm gauge Schöma is still in use and was seen working on Thursday 13th April 2017. 

The rubber factory and palm oil mill was not visited, but a train running out to collect solid and liquid latex was followed. Seven tonne 70 horsepower Schöma CFL-45B 4wDH No.15 (4713/1983) led four covered skips (for solid latex) and four tank cars (for liquid latex) away from the factory. The locomotive, still powered by an air-cooled Deutz diesel engine, was painted yellow with a red frame and headstocks. The wheels, axle boxes and ballast weights on the ends of the headstocks were painted black.

A 10.6 kilometre-long line extends to rubber and oil palm plantations west of the factory. The line crosses the PT Kereta Api 1067mm gauge main line, between Medan and Kisaran, by an overbridge 1.4 kilometres from the factory and then runs beside public roads and through several villages to four loading points. 3.0, 6.2, 8.5 and 10.6 kilometres from the factory. The third loading point is at the end of 1.1 kilometre-long branch.

Each loading point has an office building, store house and elevated tank. The tank cars are placed beneath the tank and loaded by gravity while the skips are loaded by hand. The lids on the skips are secured with a padlock once they have been loaded. One covered skip and one tank car was left at each of the four loading points.

The journey from the factory to the fourth loading point and back to the factory took almost four and a half hours. At the fourth and third loading points, empty wagons were exchanged for loaded wagons. One empty skip and one empty tank car had been left on the short branch line to the third loading point on the journey out.

When the train returned from the fourth loading point the two loaded wagons were detached on the main line at the junction with the short branch. The two empty wagons left earlier were then propelled 1.1 kilometres to the third loading point and placed. Two loaded wagons were then attached and taken back to the main line where they were added to the two loaded wagons from the fourth loading point.

At the second and first loading points the wagons that had been placed for loading on the journey out were collected, so when the loaded train left the first loading point to return to the factory it had four covered skips and four tank cars.

The railway at work


Rob Dickinson

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