The International Steam Pages
Java Sugar Steam 2000 - West Java
PG Rajawali II (previously PTP XIV, before that PNP XIV) operates all the mills in West Java. These can be reached easily from Cirebon which has good facilities. Alone among the nationalised sector, these mills do not charge visitors. On the other hand, all the mills are now rather run down and activity of any kind including the steam locomotives is quite limited. Most years I try to spend two or three days in the area in the hope of some interesting action but in recent years I have invariably been disappointed. First impressions are that it is a better crop than 1999, much to my surprise.
1.KADHIPATEN Mill Index
HQ reports that this mill will not open in 2000. With a unique gauge of 670mm its locomotives will not easily find another home. On 6th July I found the four remaining steam locos on shed, with most of the staff and Jatiwangi's two diesels reported sent to Jatitujuh Mill - the first I knew of this mill having any railway at all.
2. JATIWANGI Mill Index
As in 1999, I visited on 6th July found the mill partly dismantled for spare parts and most of the field lines and virtually all of the yard lifted. The five steam locos were covered in dust in the shed. The mill staff would love to sell the locos for preservation but HQ seem to have no mechanism for this.
3. GEMPOL Mill Index
This mill will not reopen - officially it is now a sub-unit of Sindanglaut and the little cane grown in the area is delivered there. I believe one of the Henschel locomotives (probably 10) from here has now been sent to Taman Mini in Jakarta. When I visited in 1999, staff told me that the other Henschel was now on a tourist railway in Jambi (Central Sumatra), a fact I am unlikely to be in a position to check out! 4, 5 and 8 together with another derelict at least were still in the locked shed.
4. SINDANGLAUT Mill Index
The mill was on Day 51 of its season on 6th July which suggests a starting date of May 17th. Plenty of cane in the fields and 6, 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13 in steam outside the shed at 14.00 waiting for the afternoon field workings. 1, 4 and 10 which were in use in 1999 were inside the shed needing repairs. An encouraging 'first grice'.
At 14.45 on 17th July, I arrived with my group to find that 1 (next year's centenarian?) was now in steam and 7 had retired to the shed. Only three locomotives were going immediately to the fields, 11 to the north-west line, 8 on the east line and 13 on the line south near Karang Suwung. I elected to find 13 as it was said to be just beyond the bridge which crosses the main line. We parked behind the school and trekked across the padi fields and found 13 just coupling up its final lori (of fourteen in all) at 16.15. It stormed up to the bridge at 16.30 just as the sun cleared a cloud and then as the last video camera was turned off, it derailed its first lori which promptly overturned and deposited its load down the embankment. This gave us just enough time to walk ahead to photograph the second departure... No doubt most of the eight first timers thought this sort of daylight action was standard fare in Java as they proceeded back across the fields rather muddier than they had started out. I hope the car load I managed to lose in Kadhipaten had managed to forgive me.
5. TERSANA BARU Mill Index
Tersana Baru also started milling on May 17th and the yard was full of cane at 14.30 on 6th July. 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 12 and 20 were all in steam and available for the usual shuffle up to the mill. 4, 8 and 18 appeared set aside for repairs and the usual derelict and stored locos were also present. My group spent the afternoon here on 18th July with the same locos active. For nearly three hours, there was a constant stream of short trains propelled in by a single loco before 20 assisted with the final push towards the mill. Great for the first time visitors, especially so with an afternoon of unbroken sunshine till 17.00.
6. KETANGGUNGAN BARAT Mill Index
Everything looked totally 'normal' at 15.30 on 6th July. The lines were shiny and 5, 6, 7B and 10 were in light steam outside the shed for use overnight if required. 7K inside the shed looked as if it had not been used this year and there were the other usual derelicts present. On 18th July, we were at Luwung Gajah by 07.30 and found 6 and 7B already present. By the time I had discovered that 5 was on its way, one of our cars had become 'derailed' and by the time we got it lifted back on the road 5 had arrived. The crew were happy to do some shunting for the visitors and then settled down to wait for empties from Tersana Baru which were not expected until at least 11.00. 6 and 7B meanwhile returned home light engine. On the basis of this experience we set out from Cirebon at 05.00 on 19th July in the dark to arrive at Luwung Gajah at 06.00. However, 5 and 6 were already there and there were no more trains and no empties in prospect. With hindsight we should have got up early the previous day. At 07.00, we found 7B cold outside its depot at Ketanggungan Barat and 10 cold inside.
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Rob and Yuehong Dickinson