The International Steam Pages

Steam in Java 2000

2000 saw my 20th visit to Java and I led my 12th tour. Despite my pessimism, everyone agreed that there was still more than enough activity to satisfy the first time visitor and I was back again in 2001. You can read my analysis of the prospects for the season.

This is the 2000 report, Click here for a brief summary of the main news, other reports are available:

Click here for the Mill Index or Mill Map or choose the area you want:

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 have not used steam in recent years, but may have locos stored on site):








De Maas














Ketanggungan Barat









Pakis Baru














Tasik Madu

Tersana Baru





Mill location map

The numbers are those used in the reports.

The Main News in Brief Contents

  • Kadhipaten in West Java is not milling this year and from experience unlikely to re-open. Tersana Baru, Ketanggungan Barat and Sindanglaut were working normally.
  • Further along the north coast, Jatibarang, Pangka, Sumberharjo and Sragi were working much as in 1999.
  • Tasik Madu was working normally by mid-July.
  • Madiun mills were no worse than 1999, but short of closure it would be difficult to decline further.
  • Merican, Pesantren, Mojopanggung, Ngadirejo and Gempolkerep were milling normally.
  • De Maas did not mill this year and its future is very much in doubt. Olean, Asembagus and Wringinanom were working much as in 1999. The only regular steam at Semboro was the firelesses.
  • Pakis Baru briefly refined raw sugar and did not use its railway, but Trangkil was working normally.
  • Kebonagung has closed its eastern field lines.... Disaster!

Prospects for 2001 Contents

I wrote this in September 2000. How good were the predictions? Read the 2001 report.

  • The long term prospects for the sugar industry (and its remaining steam locomotives) are very poor. A few large (and relatively efficient) mills will survive, but what is left of their railways will almost inevitably be dieselised. The only question is one of timing. Since the end of the 1997 season, nine sugar mills have ceased operation and, equally important, (steam) field operations have been abandoned at two more. In August 2000, the English language Jakarta Post reported that four more mills (unnamed) would close at the end of the season. The Government has stated its intention to close no less than a further 22 of the 57 mills in due course.
  • The short term prospects for the industry are tied to the Rupiah/US $ exchange rate. In 1997, U$1 bought Rp 2500. Within a year it was more than Rp 10000, before dropping back to around Rp 7000 in 1999. By mid-2000, the underlying value was about Rp 8000 although political uncertainties caused it to fluctuate wildly.  Sugar imports have been liberalised over the last year and the local sugar price broadly reflects world prices.
  • The 2000 season was much better in terms of cane quantity and quality than 1999, the slight devaluation of the Rupiah has helped push up prices. There was no repetition of the early (mid-August) shut downs seen then. However, labour shortages have again been evident in some areas which confirms that the Javanese economy is recovering strongly. Few people want to cut cane for around U$2.50 a day or less and much cane is now 'ratooned' (= grow again in the same place as opposed to making part of a rice/sugar cycle).
  • The Government would like to close more mills, but the (Government owned) sugar corporations are naturally opposing this, not least on the grounds of the social upheaval it would cause in some areas (especially around Situbondo).
  • Several of the individual mills are being more proactive in ensuring cane supplies by direct leasing of land, plenty of cane has been planted for next year and I believe that there will be sufficient steam activity in 2001 to make visits worthwhile. Anyone who visited Java in the early or mid-90s would naturally find the scene disappointing, but I think that (as in 2000) a first time visitor will be more than satisfied at seeing between 50 and 100 narrow gauge steam locomotives still working.
  • Add in the possibilities of special trains at Ambarawa and Cepu, together with visits to the sugar mills themselves with their ancient steam powered machinery and you can have a steam trip which has no equal in the world today. I plan to try to run two tours, one will be the conventional 'all-steam' tour, the other (for the first time) will combine the best of steam with visits to Java's conventional tourist attractions - the volcanoes, antiquities and cultural centres. Please Email me for details

PT Keretapi News Contents

I booked no less than 4 specials at Ambarawa on July 21st/22nd and August 10th/11th 2000. These used B25 and E10 as usual.

These are pictures of our 2000 specials.

Ambarawa village scene

Ducks on parade

B25 at sunset

B25 double

Cepu Forest Railway Contents

Regular logging trains have now ceased altogether and much of the system has been lifted. The only way to see this unique operation is to organise your own special logging trains which I booked on July 26th and August 7th 2000. The little DuCroo and Brauns 0-6-0T, made it all the way to the forest along with the normal Berliner 0-10-0T on both days. However, the political anarchy which is taking over the country has seen large parts of the forest devastated. They are planting on an 80 year cycle but cutting on a 10 year cycle....

Cepu DB 0-10-0T in the forest

Cepu DB 0-10-0T on the 'new' bridge.

Check out the 2002 Cepu pictures.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson