The International Steam Pages

Steam in Java 1996

This is the 1996 report, other reports are available:

There appear to have been just two groups of visitors, a Japanese one in July and a UK based group in August. This report covers the UK group together with additional individual observations made during an 8 week stay covering the main sugar season in July and August. From the evidence of the mill visitors' books (Buku Tamu) it seems likely that apart from the Japanese group, there will have been barely a couple of dozen enthusiasts during the whole year. 1996 showed a further decline compared to 1995 particularly in the west, with one or two bright spots like Pakis Baru and Soedhono although both July and August were much wetter than usual.


In March 1996, a report appeared in a Jakarta newspaper indicating that the Indonesian Government had decided in principle to relocate large parts of the Javanese sugar industry to the outer (less developed and populated) islands and that 27 of the 57 sugar mills which were too small to be economic would be closed. Clearly this would have disastrous consequences for the operation of steam on the island.

In practice, discussions with various officers at Headquarters in Surabaya, Solo and Cirebon indicated that the change will be gradual and that there will not be a massive sudden closure programme. Nevertheless, it is clear that there is an increasing divide between the nationalised mills in West and Central Java where the industry is in rapid decline and those in East Java (together with the private mills) where it is holding up quite well. The reason for this is economic as development is least rapid in the rural areas furthest from the large centres of population. Enthusiasts can therefore look forward to at least another year or two of steam operation in some volume.

Also during March, PTP XV/XVI was renamed PTP Nusantara IX, PTP XXI/XXII became PTP Nusantara X and PTP XX was amalgamated with PTP XXIV/XXV to become PTP Nusantara XI. PTP XIV, which is under the wing of PT Rajawali which via PT Imaco runs the private mills at Krebet and Rejoagung, maintains its old name.

The mills are arranged from West to East, North Coast then South Coast with the Private Mills at the end. Scroll the document or click on the mill in the Index below (if there is no change or no visit they are not highlighted):


Very quiet this year, with a short season finishing on August 2nd. It is likely that road deliveries are being diverted to the new mill at Jatitujuh. Medium term prospects are poor.


Worked only a 42 day season which meant that the mill closed by mid June. HQ says it will reopen next year......

GEMPOL Mill Index

Again did not work in 1996 and is unlikely to reopen.


The northern lines nearest Cirebon were very quiet in 1996, little cane being grown in this part of the system as a new toll road is being blasted straight through this area. The eastern lines were busy but the season finished much earlier than usual on August 30th. The locomotives have been repainted orange and there has been some renumbering (old numbers in brackets).

4(1) 0񫊘T Jung 477/1901
5(6) 0񫊘T OK 6959/1913
6(7) 0񫱰T Bors 11018/1921
7(4) 0񫱰T DB 27/1924(p) Ex Gempol 2


Like the other mills in the area, the season was shorter than usual, due to finish by September 3rd. The locomotives have been renumbered again, largely returning to their original numbers! The 1995 running numbers where different are given in the final column, but many bits are being swapped between locos. Apart from the ex Gempol locomotives, the rest of the roster appears to be in poor condition.

1 0񫱰T DB 80/1926(b), 84/1926(p) (D4-1, ex Gempol 1)
2 0-8-0T DB 140/1928 (6, ex Gempol 3)
3 NT3 0-8-0T Jung 3724/1925
4 0񫱰T OK 11805/1929
6 0񫱰T OK 10459/1929(m), DB 84/1926(b) (D4-6, ex Gempol 6)
8 0񫱰T Maff 4249/1921
8 0񫊘T Jung 543/1901 dumped
9 0񫱰T OK 3779/1909 dumped
10 NT12 0񫱰T OK 6040/1912 dumped
11 0񫱰T DB 24/1924(p), 172/1929(m) (4)
12 NT11 0-8-0T DB 23/1924 (7)
18 NT2 0񫱰T Jung 3433/1923 (2)
19 NT1 0񫱰T Jung 3434/1923 (1)
20 0񫱰T Maff 3649/1911 (5)
4 0񫱰T Jung 3725/1925 (carries NT16 but was NT 4)


The locomotives were attempting to work as normal but by the end of August were in an appalling state. Some days locomotives would arrive before dawn at Luwung Gajah, on other days failures would find trains stranded for hours. On August 29th, 6 failed with injector problems and had to be rescued by 10 which itself had only just been rerailed. Simultaneously 5 failed with a leaky top feed. Two days later, 6 failed again and had to be towed home. The end of season would have been a mercy.

Dumped here is 4 DB 64/1925 (not the Jung as I reported earlier).


Much busier than recently during the season with the Vulcans in use. In late July, an early morning visit brought the extremely rare sight of two daylight steam hauled cane trains, the recent rains causing delays in loading. Unusually this mill uses cars with no side bars, the horizontally packed cane being supported by vertical pieces of cane. However, this mill too had a short season finishing on August 29th.


Working normally, although by late August there was very little standing cane left. Preserved 8 had received a new coat of paint. 10 was working the crusher with small 2 making a fine sight employed on field work.

PANGKA Mill Index

Working normally, the field next to the gantries just outside the mill was planted with rice which offered unusual broadside photographic opportunities.


Locomotives have been repainted badly in an anaemic yellow colour. During a brief visit the mud and ash trains were being worked by 1 and 4, although Alco 5 had been in use. As usual, this very steamy mill was very quiet.

SRAGI Mill Index

By the end of August only 50% of the cane had been cut and the mill was operating at so far below capacity that there was insufficient bagasse for the locos which were burning wood. 2 had been added to the locos in store and 3, while serviceable, was also out of use. This year the mud train loco was 13.


Working as normally as it could manage!


Not visited


Only 2, 4 and 8 were in use during the main season, with 3 and 5 in reserve. The Klaten line had been partly reopened as far as Jimbung, although trains on three separate visits appeared nocturnal. Daylight trains on the south line were possible with 8 the star performer as usual. However, even compared to two years ago activity is much reduced with often only two or even one loco in the fields and diesels unusually in evidence outside the mill area.


A brief visit in early July found not a single serviceable steam locomotive. By August the two Berliners were at work in the mill and fields and one of the Jung Mallets had worked recently.


No change - all locos stored.


III had returned to work after repair and small XV had been placed in store. In two out of three visits the mill area appeared busier than in recent years although there was very little field work taking place.


In August, 10 was in the final stages (steam tests) of being returned to service after several years in store. It has lost its tanks in the process, revealing where the plate work had been doctored when it was regauged to 600mm from 700mm. Otherwise, there was no change.


No change


Working normally with 10, 11 and 12 on the transfer trains and 7 alternating with diesels on the mud trains. This is now one of the most hospitable mills in Java if initial formalities are observed, staff co-operating with a visiting group in making the most of photographic opportunities with an interesting roster.


No change, 2 was operating the mud train and 1 and 5 were working the yard with the OK 0-8-0s.


In the early part of the season, the diesels were being heavily utilised. 1 and 5 were not needed and were only put in service in late August. According to staff and from observation in July, the remaining field lines were not being used, although at least one of the lines to the south west looked in use later in the season.

LESTARI Mill Index

Not visited, only wrecks can be present if at all.

MERICAN Mill Index

Working normally, much busier on a second visit at the end of August than at the beginning of the month.


No change.


Baldwin 8 is kept mainly as spare loco but the staff were more than happy to steam it specially for a visiting group.


Not visited, no locos still present.

CUKIR Mill Index

Not visited but the 4 remaining locomotives (3, 4, 5 and 7) have been sold to the Kediri scrapyard. On inspection the current 7 appears to be mainly 2134/1906 so 6 and 7 may have swapped identity at some stage.


No change, the yard was as busy as ever.


Not visited, but the most that can be there is one wreck.


Breda 16 was again steamed for a visiting group in August, working a variety of rolling stock around the mill. Apparently it was the first time it had worked in 1996. According to mill staff the regular tourist trains have not run this year, the travel agents concerned had not paid their bills and this side of the operation was in effect suspended.


No change, with just one OK 0-8-0T in steam

GENDING Mill Index

No change, all locos in store.


Not visited

SEMBORO Mill Index

The working fleet was reduced to the 2 fireless locos, the Jung and the OK Mallets. 29 was turned out to work a passenger train round the fields for a visiting group, being appropriated to temporarily replace a diesel on a mud train. In the afternoon one of the Mallets worked a mud train, the remaining working steam locomotives being expected to work cane trains later in the day. According to mill staff, 2 of the stored Mallets are to be sent to Olean and a further 2 to an unnamed mill in Madiun. The last two Mallets at Olean came from Jatiroto and they lasted just 2 years before they were dumped, although they were undoubtedly in much worse condition than those at Semboro.

DE MAAS Mill Index

4 was again steamed for yard work. For a visiting group, the mill turned out its Gamelan orchestra and created two passenger coaches out of cane cars which were taken for a ride after the loco had been appropriated to 'work' a short train through the nearby village.


2 has been stuffed and mounted outside the mill. 7 was not in use because of a 'bagasse shortage', but 6 was working in regularly around sunset each day.

OLEAN Mill Index

3, 4, 5 and 7 sporting a trendy new PTP Nusantara XI light green livery were working normally with total thrash throughout most afternoons.

PANJI Mill Index

A request to steam one of the stored locomotives was turned down by the management.


Remaining locomotives are still stored in the shed.


On special request for a group (ex-Prajekan) 5 was used to take a set of box vans to and from the port at Jankar (bagged sugar is normally taken in them by diesel for transportation by sea to Madura). Otherwise, steam appears to be used on a small scale as and when required for field trains.


Working normally with regular daylight trains in profusion. The mill access road which had been regularly blocked by road lorries waiting to enter the mill had been cleared by opening a large lorry park by the turn-off. This allowed good quality road-side photographs to be obtained - the main road being a dangerous lottery. Diesel 6 was more in evidence than usual being used for shunting and yard trips but this was more as a result of an increase in traffic than a reduction in steam activity.


The second Hanomag 7 had entered service and was proving a most satisfactory loco. As a result 1 had been reduced to spare locomotive. The mud train was normally diesel and most mornings 2 was working one or two train loads of empties along with the other diesels. However, all field cane trains were still said to be diesel hauled by staff, the larger steam locomotives being too heavy for the bridges.


The locomotive exported to Germany in 1987 is reported to be:

13 0񫱰T Han 10409/1925 LAWOE


6 had been returned to service to join 2, 5, 9 and 10. The eastern lines were still open, producing regular late afternoon or early evening (exceptionally mid-morning) trains. The future of the rail system is still under review although the diesel fleet is now proving a headache as it is proving unreliable as it ages. Enthusiasts should treat every year here as the last, it is simply one of the most photogenic systems in Java with attractive yellow locomotives in very varied surroundings.


The locomotives exported to Australia in 1987 and subsequently sold to the USA are reported to be:

3 0񪣄0T OK 3770/1909(b)
11 0񫱰T Han 10410/1925

Further information on their 'end-use' would be appreciated.

Perumka News

At Ambarawa E1060 has appeared from Padang Works in West Sumatra. Although it uses the same rack system as the B25s, it has many bits missing which is perhaps just as well as its axle load will be far greater. A second B25 (B2502) has entered service to join B2503 as there are as many as 10 special trains in some months. The cost has risen to Rp 850 000 (250).

Cepu Forest Railway

Still operating regular tourist trains and reportedly running logging trains too outside the sugar season.

That's it. Click here to return to the Mill Index

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson