The International Steam Pages

Java Sugar Steam 2006 - Far Eastern Mills

These mills are run by PTP Nusantara XI, formed in 1996 by the amalgamation of PTP XX and PTP XXIV/XXV. These mills were previously PNP XXIV/XXV and before that PNP XXIV and PNP XXV. The Situbondo area is definitely 'unspoiled Java', with facilities at the beach 'resort' of Pasir Puteh to match - in other words, gricers' heaven. If you want luxury, then try the new Hotel Rosali in Situbondo itself. For Semboro, stay in Jember which has hotels for all pockets, unfortunately there is nowhere to stay in Tanggul. Of course, Olean is the top steam sugar mill in the world now.

I think Panji, Wringinanom and Asembagus have the best medium term prospects of survival.  In 1999/2000, even around Olean I could see much less new cane, although since 2001 there has been some recovery. All of which amounts to bad news for the steam locos. One final small word of warning, many of the working girls at Pasir Puteh are more 'working' than 'girl'....

Click here for a photo gallery from the LCGB tour, courtesy of Robin Patrick.

33. KEDAWUNG Mill Index

I did ask the mill to steam a loco for my 2003 group, but they declined to do so.

34. WONOLANGAN Mill Index

Steam could best be described as 'long out of use'. One locomotive was allegedly serviceable in 2001 but there was a huge hole in its spark arrestor chimney and no doubt several others in more critical areas. 

35. GENDING Mill Index

The four steam locos here spent most of the last ten years in store although in the early 90s a couple were used occasionally as some kind of job creation scheme. The cost of annual boiler inspections put a stop to this.  OK Mallet 4 is now at the Frankfurter Feldbahnmuseum, the other three are still stored in the shed. 

36. PAJARAKAN Mill Index

There is no possibility of the two remaining steam locos being put back into action.

37. JATIROTO Mill Index

This mill has had the biggest collection of disused and dismantled locos in Java for many years.

38. SEMBORO Mill Index

Likely to begin milling in late May. Firelesses 2 and 3 will most likely work as usual behind the mill, but there is no longer any active conventional real steam here. Jung 0-6-0T 29 is usually serviceable and usually but not always one of the OK 0-4-4-0T Mallets, but they are only used for special charters. 

Semboro fireless

Mallet 15 failed before departure on the occasion of my first visit in 2004, but lasted longer on the second (below). It worked successfully for us in 2005, and for most other groups too I believe.

Our LCGB group had both 29 and 15 out although, 15 failed along the way.

39. DE MAAS Mill Index

This mill did not work in 2000 and will remain closed. The two locos are still here in the shed (although 3 has gone to Asembagus).

40. WRINGINANOM Mill Index

In 2002, I asked the management to repair 6 for my group visit (it would take about a week according to shed staff) but they declined.  That must have been the end of steam here.

41. OLEAN Mill Index

Visiting Olean in 2009? Need some help with transport to chase the trains?
Please contact Zaenal Combo

Likely to have begun milling at the end of May and normal operation was observed by early July 2006 - at this stage the steam locomotives were burning wood. Steve Noon found the mill using pairs of steam locomotives, turn and turn about although only one was going out in the morning. By early August 2006, I found three in use on a single visit, although only one went out with empties in the morning. I had a fabulous day out here with the LCGB group on 18th August, it was spoiled only by one official (RF Widodo) from the mill who believed we should pay for the privilege of photographing the mill's locomotives in public areas (I have paid a small fortune to take myself and my groups round the mill itself), his card is marked for next time I visit HQ in Surabaya. I am totally addicted to Olean and spent 10 days there in September when we found steam in the fields most days (occasionally the coconut husk delivery system failed). It may be well past its best, but it is still a fabulous operation, and will have continued through most of October and maybe even longer. Certainly Geoff Warren found the situation improved in mid-October, with steam and diesel both working empties and two steam locomotives on the afternoon full trains. There was still plenty of standing cane. How many more late season visitors will there be?

Olean started work at the end of May 2005 and used steam locomotives as before. 1, 4, 5 and 7 worked regular daylight field trains in 2003/2004 and again in 2005. There is a mill system map on the Olean Heritage Page. Click here for more Olean 2002 steam action, there are more pictures in the 2003 report, the 2004 report and the 2005 report. Keep your fingers crossed because with the disastrous situation in Cuba and the field lines closed at Trangkil, this has to be the best steam operated sugar mill railway left in the world today. In 2004, the locomotives did not work to the fields every day but when they did they tended to leave the mill at 12.00 and get back around 14.00, making photography tricky. But in June/July 2005, the trains ran later as the crews had to wait for wood/coconut husks to be delivered owing to the bagasse shortage. The situation was made worse by the partial use of one of the small diesels to double-head steam to eke out the wood supply.

Throughout August 2005 the mill used 1/7 and 4/5 alternately owing to continued lack of bagasse. The first (damp) bagasse was set aside for the locomotives in the middle of the month, although the continued low quality of the cane made it unlikely that full steam operation would be possible until well into September at the earliest. A mid-September visitor reported that the situation was no better but the mill was likely to keep working well into October.

Normally just one steam locomotive went out in the morning on the empties with one of the diesels taking some too. But given that it is the last of its kind in the world, this is something not to be missed.... These are 2005 pictures, but 2006 looked much the same.

The roads in the cane area are being sealed and the railway lines are in poor condition. Expect rail haulage to be abandoned at some stage.

42. PANJI Mill Index

I dropped by in August 1999 and it was quite clear that there is now no prospect of any of the steam locos here running again. I had previously described the locos here as 'stored' and although superficially they look OK, most of the non-ferrous fittings have been removed for the other mills in the area. For those who like that kind of thing (I would use the word 'pervert' but that is what my ex-wife calls me) then the little diesels look quite nice on the road side field trains. 

43. PRAJEKAN Mill Index

The serviceable smaller locos were reallocated to De Maas and Asembagus some years ago. The other locos remain in store, a tragic end for the magnificent Luttermöllers.

44. ASEMBAGUS Mill Index

Likely to have begun milling in late May 2006. Reported to be operating normally by early July 2006. Steve Noon found the mill using both steam locomotives with the piles of scrap around the shed area much less.

In 2002, 5 had expired with boiler failure, 0-8-0T 3 was renumbered 10 and 0-6-0T De Maas 3 (2) was here as 11. 11 was still a runner in 2003, while the frames of 5 were put together with the boiler of 10 to make another 'new' loco which also carries the number 10. Click here for my 2002 private afternoon at Asembagus.

This mill is very rewarding photographically but it demands patience as on some days there is no steam activity... 10 and 11 worked again in 2004, I brought my group here for an afternoon and we had 11 on the south line. In 2005 both locomotives saw regular if not daily use, mainly on the south line.

The mill declined to run our usual box van special in 2004, apparently wood supplies were not always available in the mornings. However, there was no problem in 2005, note the locos are now green here.

10 and 11 continued to work field trains through August 2005 although the amount of activity varied enormously from day to day and trains could be very late back to the mill if they ran.... 

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Rob and Yuehong Dickinson