The International Steam Pages

Steam in Java 2009

I have lost count of my visits to Java since I first went in 1975. In the 33 years since then, I have missed just 7 years, all but two in the 1980s. I have often described my relationship as like a public love affair. Alas the global recession and the associated collapse in the value of the GBP mean that I shall not be there in 2009. 

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

This is the 2009 report, 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

Central Java North Coast Mills
(2nd September 2009)

Central Java South Coast Mills
(2nd September 2009)

Madiun area Mills
(2nd September 2009)

Kediri area Mills
(2nd September 2009)

Far Eastern Mills
(2nd September 2009)

Private Mills


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), I have now added 'how to get there' information for the mills with active steam in 2008, but Jan Willem's guide has more comprehensive information.:








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 2009 News in Brief Contents

2006/7 were probably the best sugar seasons in Java for some years, first time visitors seem broadly satisfied by what was on offer given that the real steam clock stands at 5 seconds to midnight here and 2 seconds everywhere in the world). 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 took the cherry for 2007 and, amazingly, again for 2008). You have to wonder whether their researchers ever bothered to read the detailed reports on these pages.... There were few changes apparent in 2008, but 2009 is not looking good. Click on the links for more details.

  • Gempolkerep and Jatibarang have ceased steam working.
  • Olean and Asembagus have insufficient cane available to need to use steam, all operation was diesel at least to the end of July. Olean has since started to use steam on an occasional basis and both mills are willing to arrange for steam substitution for a standard fee.
  • Pangka was using just two steam locomotives in July but three in August.
  • Sragi is working well although tractors are in evidence
  • Tasik Madu is working much as before with extra (separate) tourist activity.
  • Purwodadi, Pagottan and Rejosari are working much as before, while Sudhono has had a part return to steam.
  • Merican is using ex-Ngadirejo Mallet 205 but steam activity is at a low ebb.
  • The Ambarawa rack railway is operating as per normal although E1060 has returned to West Sumatra to join the museum at Sawahlunto.
  • C1218 has been sent to Solo to operate tourist trains commencing 17th September 2009 - click here for a report.
  • The Cepu Forest Railway was reinstated so that special trains could again run in 2008 and was available for groups again in 2009.

Ambarawa Contents

Click here for the unofficial Ambarawa Railway Museum website. There is no regular public service, trains have to be chartered.

I ran 3 specials at Ambarawa using B2503, E1060 and C1218 as usual in August 2006 and tried to do the same in July 2008, although C1218 was a last minute failure. I have posted a page of pictures of C1218 at work in 2006. E1060 has since returned to West Sumatra and now C1218 is headed for Solo where it will work tourist trains on the Wonogiri branch including street running in the city..

Note that as Ambarawa is in the mountains, the weather may not always be kind, even in the dry season. Here is B2503 during a late afternoon runpast in 2003.

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 what I thought would be a final time in July 2005, although the railway was repaired for the 2008 season. 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 when we were restricted to the log yard owing to the damage to a bridge, despite appearances the locomotive could not move itself.....

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson