The International Steam Pages

Steam in Java 2007

2006 saw my 25th visit to Java and it was the 18th year that I have led a tour there, doubling up some years, the actual tour total is much greater. This was a short and well booked bash for the Locomotive Club of Great Britain - what a shame that all the people now interested in visiting Java (because there is virtually no other working steam left in the world outside China) never got here in the days when it was absolutely wonderful...... Click here for a photo gallery from the 2006 LCGB tour, courtesy of Robin Patrick. For the first time in nearly 20 years, I didn't visit Java in 2007, but I was back in 2008.

Sweet Spot - the ultimate Olean DVD
Read  Keith Chester's Review

This is the 2007 report, click here for a brief summary of the main news, other reports are 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.

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

West Java Mills
(12th September 2007))

Central Java North Coast Mills
(12th September 2007))

Central Java South Coast Mills
(28th September 2007))

Madiun area Mills
(12th September 2007)) 

Kediri area Mills
(31st September 2007)) 

Far Eastern Mills
(6th December 2007)

Private Mills
(29th April 2007)


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):








De Maas














Ketanggungan Barat










Pakis Baru














Tasik Madu

Tersana Baru





Mill location map

The numbers are those used in the reports, they have no official status.

The Main News in Brief Contents

2006 was probably the best sugar season in Java for some years, first time visitors seem broadly satisfied by what was on offer given that the real steam clock stands at 2 minutes to midnight. 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 takes the cherry for 2007 and again for 2008). You have to wonder whether their researchers ever bothered to read the detailed reports on these pages....

  • It seems that there is less steam this year at Sumberharjo, Tersana Baru and Tasikmadu. At the latter, the line up through the village was initially closed although it has since re-opened. Overall, no apparent major changes.
  • If it's not too clear from the reports, then the best mills for steam in quantity and in action are (in alphabetical order): Olean, Pangka, Sragi and Tasik Madu. Under no circumstances contemplate a visit to Java which does not include all of these.
  • Java's main line railways have suffered a large number of well publicised accidents (search under 'Java railway accident') owing to derailments in the last few months, particularly during the rainy season. Additionally, the line from Surabaya to Bangil (and on east to Jember /Banyuwangi and south to Malang) has been subject to short-notice long delays and even closure owing to the 'mud volcano' adjacent to the track at Porong near Sidoarjo. Bear this in mind if you are considering using the trains as part of your planned visit, they are not "well maintained" although, of course, as everywhere they are undoubtedly safer than the roads.
  • The Ambarawa rack railway will operate as per normal.
  • The Cepu Forest Railway suffered bridge damage just outside the log yard during the rainy season of 2005/6 and the authorities failed to restore it in time for the rail tour season and it seemed that the railway was doomed. However, Steve Noon tells me (31st December 2007) that the bridge has been repaired and that work was completed to reinstate the railway for a first proving run with steam on 15th/16th December 2007. We negotiated a sensible package, we visited this fascinating railway during our 2008 tour and will be back with the Java Experience Tour in 2009.

PT Keretapi News Contents

I ran 3 specials at Ambarawa using B2503, E1060 and C1218 as usual in August 2006. I have posted a page of pictures of C1218 at work.

Click here for the unofficial Ambarawa Railway Museum website.

The first two pictures are of 2003 trains, but note that as Ambarawa is in the mountains, the weather may not always be kind, even in the dry season. First E1060 at Jambu:

Here is B2503 during a late afternoon runpast.

C1218 on the bridge south of Jambu station in August 2006.

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 a final time in July 2005. 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, now all (legal) logging has been stopped in Java. 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, despite appearances the locomotive could not move itself.....

Click here for the International Steam Page.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson