The International Steam Pages

Steam and More in Java 2014

Andrej Hoffman reports on a programme of independent visits:

Tegal area


We arrived to Pangka mill in the afternoon. Permission for 200 000 Rp./pers very quickly obtained. Jungs 2 and 3 were on duty between loading point and mill yard, OK 10 shunting near mill. Diesel No. 11 (Schoema) heavy overhaul in remise, other diesels working with empties or full cars. Jung No. 1 boiler washing. Very successful afternoon. Two stationary steam engines in the mill working as reported earlier.


We started in Sumberharjo. We used usual road from Pemalang and were surprised with diesel No. 9 on crossing about 1,5 north from the mill. Tracks looked unusable and not used for more years (as I know 2 years ago) but now they activated this line and were bringing temporary tracks there. After arrival to the mill we acquired permission for 150 000 Rp./pers. Staff on HQ were very mild, I have contact on Heru Pramono, he speaks English and can help with arranging trains. We found No. 3 and 6 in steam in backyard and only No. 10 in steam in shed. All other loco were cold. Diesels No. 6 for shunting near mill, Nos. 7 and 8 in remise. Unfortunately mill was not working due some small repairs so no movement on tracks. We decided to move to Sragi combining regular and hired angkots.

In Sragi steam Nos. 5, 12, 16 were working on loaded trains from loading crane, No 17 with empties under crane as usual and 19 and 20 were bringing empties from the mill. We saw one tractor working between loading point and mill yard with full cars. We didn‘t try to enter the mill when two Japanese guys told us that they had to pay 300 000 Rp.


Sumberharjo, second attempt. Unfortunately no steam line activity too. We met Heru and explained situation that there was no activity day before and whether the permission could be valid second day. He offered us to pay wood and manpower for steam loco in fields instead of paying new permission (price was same). Good deal! This day steam locos 3 and 6 (no tender anymore, they made cage for wood in the rear section as on No. 3) were shunting empties backyard, No. 10 was cold but they steamed No. 9 which was for us. Staff told us that they use steam loco 9 or 10 for field lines only if needed. First, we had to wait with No. 9 to clear yard to get to weighbridge and then we waited for diesel train with empties to the fields. It took about 5 hours but we enjoyed No. 3 shunting empties to loading crane, full activity of many stationary steam engines in the mill and nice kids outside mill. At about 4 p.m. diesel No. 8 with empties appeared and we followed this train to western fields (Warurejo line) with steam No. 9. Sugar cane was harvested on big field 1 km behind Warurejo village. There was about 1 km long temporary tracks in field and they pulled with animals about 50 empty cars there. We saw temporary stable for about 20 water buffalos too. Staff told us that full train (steam loco and 35 loaded cars) would be ready at night so we had to move to Tegal to catch night train to Surabaya. Diesels today: No. 6 mill yard as usual, Nos. 7, 8, 9 line activity. Small Schoema No. 10 in the shed. All other abandoned diesels were in the shed same as 2 years ago.

Conclusion – Nice to see intensive working steam in Pangka and Sragi and rich line activity in Sumberharjo with semi-charter steam possibility. Unfortunately we had no time for visiting Jatibarang mill with beautiful round-remise.


We moved by KA. 46 to Surabaya and then KA. 85 to Banyuwangi and by bus to Situbondo. On the crossing near Kedawung we saw narrow gauge train with cane waiting to pass.

Situbondo area


Morning – Olean. Combo had written letter to Olean mill 3 days before our arrival so no permission from Surabaya HQ was required. We entered the mill and let Combo to make permission. But they show us „new pricelist“ – 20 $/person for entering the mill, 10 $/person for seeing process, 10 $/person for taking pictures and 100 $/10 persons to drive on steam loco! Crazy prices for almost nothing – only big stationary engines remained, all is painted and modernised, staff has corporate t-shirts and security gave us yellow helmets inside the mill. And - steam locos were cold! 

We decided to leave Olean and see Asembagus sugar train. When we arrived to Asembagus, we saw diesels No. 2, 4 and 5 shunting with empties outside near crossing with main road. Security told us that sugar train was in Jangka port so we moved there. Japan loco No. 7 was waiting for unloading train there. At 12 o clock staff started to unload and at 12:30 train was prepared for departure. We drove with empty train back to the mill and made stops for shooting. Behind three-way junction staff made double headed train with Japan No. 8 for us. Combo had asked on HQ steam loco and was told for 100 $ plus wood and staff price but because of bad condition of the loco they refused to make train to the fields. So we declined to pay for this circus.

Afternoon we checked Olean again. No steam there. At 4 o clock 2 diesel locos (No 3 from Asembagus and one original Olean loco) went to the field to bring loaded loris from harvested field near Gelung village. We rode on loco back to the mill at dusk.

Sunday 31.8.2014

We went to Asembagus for shooting morning sugar train to port. Before cargo train started its trip we had seen rich line activity – diesels Nos. 2, 5, 6, 7 had delivered full/empty cars from/to fields. At 11:20 a.m. sugar train with diesel No. 8 left the mill. We shot it unfortunately with the worst noon sunlight.. Sugar train was followed by diesel No. 5 with empties to loading point near port. After this we moved to Panji to take picture of plinthed steam loco 7. No shunting activity in the mill during our visit. They wouldn't allow us to enter the mill without Surabaya permission. Field lines are mostly lifted and loading crane outside the mill is not used as mentioned in earlier reports.

Afternoon we moved to Wringinanom lines. Buffalos were already collecting loaded cars on the line between the mill and bridge. We missed one train but two others with diesels Nos. 2 and 3 were there. No. 6 came with loaded train from area behind the bridge. At 10 p.m. we started our trip to Kawah Ijen to see blue fires and sunrise in the morning.

Monday 1.9.2014

During our journey back from Kawah Ijen we stopped in Prajekan but found no activity. Loris were not used to deliver sugar cane to the mill.

Afternoon we were told that there will be steam activity in Olean. „Chief engineer“ asked for 750 000 Rp. to ride on train. We refused to pay this Japanese price and waited near full loris on branch line about 1 km far away from the mill. There was no movement.. After this we decided to pay this price next day for seeing steam on line activity and ordered to start at 3 p.m. Maybe the last chance to see steam in Olean.

Tuesday 2.9.2014

Morning we went to Prajekan for molasses train. There was no rail activity but staff in the mill was very pleased with our visit. Woman in the office asked „only“ for 10 dollars/person to enter the mill so we accepted this price and entered the mill. Diesel No. 3 was waiting near molasses loading point as usual, No. 4 was outside the shed with no work on main yard. We entered shed to see abandoned steam locos – 3 big 0-10-0 (Nos. 6, 7, 8) and 1 smaller 0-8-0 OK (unknown number) locos were still there. All plates from locos were away. Nice staff started small diesel No. 2 and went out from the shed for us. No loaded loris with sugar cane, they used only trucks.

At 2 p.m. we moved to Olean to wait for steam loco. We were „lucky“ at 3 p.m. when steam loco No. 5 appeared in the backyard gate. After we paid the chief engineer 750 000 Rp. loco went to branch line near the mill for loaded cars which we saw day before. In the cab there were heavy leaks of hot water from pipes around water gauges and pipe between loco and tender split off after few metres outside the mill. They went on full loris and then temporarily repaired the pipe. After difficulties with departure they finally moved to the mill at about 4.30 p.m. They refused to go with the steam outside the mill again and took second diesel for field work in Gelung area. I’m afraid they will not use steam loco anymore if not paid by foreigners owing to the bad condition of loco(s). We will see next season.

Conclusion – good days in Olean are over. The prices asked for entering the mill absolutely do not relate to what you can see.. Unique steam line activity is still authentic but you have to bribe staff. It looks like if they can, they used diesels for shunting and line activity. We saw tractor used for shunting too.

Wednesday 3.9.2014

We packed our bags and check-out from the hotel. Combo helped us to arrange molasses train in Prajekan for us. When we arrived the staff were waiting for us. They started to load molasses in the train and then brought it to a tank near mill. As with the day before staff were very pleased with our visit and we rode on the train too. In the afternoon we visited south coast beaches.

Thursday 4.9.2014

We moved from Jember to Madiun by train . Very cheap economy class train – 50 000 Rp./ person. There was petrol train to Pertamina store with old BB Krupp loco after our arrival in Madiun.

Madiun area

Friday 5.9.2014

Morning – we went by buses to Purwodadi mill. We were asked to pay the photo-permission fee 5 $/pers. (300 000 Rp. total) in the office. Steam Nos. 10 and 16 worked hardly on full trains from loading point fired with bagasse. One time they had to use both engines to push loaded train in mill yard. Steam loco No. 5 and diesel No. 1 looked serviceable in the shed. Steam No. 15 for spare parts and one frame still remain in the shed. Diesel No. 2 worked on empties. Inside factory many stationary steam engines and water pump are still working.

We moved to Soedhono mill. We had to wait for permission at the security gate so we moved to nearby train station Geneng to take pictures of „big trains“. After our arrival at security we were allowed to see „remise“ and loading point without any fee or permission. Small diesels Nos. 1 and 2 and bigger Schoemas 3, 4, 5 worked in the yard. They used many tractors too. Serviceable steam No. 3 was in front of the shed. We saw disused steam locos Nos. 2, 6, 9 inside.

For the afternoon we moved to Pagottan mill. Steam locos 7 and 8 were on duty (pushing full trains to the mill as usual), 6 was cold. Diesels 1, 2 and 3 used for shunting between loading crane and yard. We were not trying to enter the mill.

Saturday 6.9.2014

We moved by taxi to Kanigoro mill. We were lucky to find steam No. 6 shunting with full cars. Japanese diesel was outside near crossing but not used. Pictures taken from this crossing, we had no time to enter the mill. They used bagasse to fire No. 6.

During noon-time we moved by train to Solo and afternoon we visited Tasik Madu mill. We found only big TM VI in use on usual work, all other movement was made by new John Deere tractors. Unfortunately, 50 years-old Czechoslovak tractors „Zetor“ were away. We entered „Agrowisata“ complex to see phlinted locos. Steam Borsig No. 3 looked serviceable in backyard, Diesel No. 14 was on circus train. Outside shed we saw steam TM I (looked serviceable), other steam locos inside were: 5 (major repair?), 7, TM XIV, second TM 5, TM III. Boiler of OK 9273 is still outside. Diesels inside shed: TM D V in circus livery, D VI without axles, D 15 without engine, TM D 1 not looked serviceable, TM D III long abandoned. D 2 was inside „works shed“ looked abandoned for a long time. 

That’s the end of our sugar mill trip in 2014 season. On Sunday we moved by hired taxi to Ambarawa museum. They made new paths inside so museum was totally closed and we were not able to enter yard and shed. They have built bricks wall about 3 metre high to hide all that is inside.. Then we moved to Bedono station. Track and racks are complete but in bad condition with no signs of movement this year as reported earlier by Bernd. After that we moved via Dieng Plateau to Pekalongan and on Monday by train to Jakarta

Rob Dickinson