The International Steam Pages

Java Sugar Steam 2009 - 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. One small word of warning, many of the working girls at Pasir Puteh are more 'working' than 'girl'.... If you want a better class of accommodation, then try the Hotel Rosali in Situbondo itself. For Semboro, stay in Jember which has hotels for all pockets, unfortunately there is nowhere to stay in Tanggul. 

Olean has been the jewel in the crown of Java steam for many years - inside and outside the mill, don't miss it under any circumstances. 

Click here for a photo gallery from the 2006 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. Once again they were talking about repairing a loco (14?) for tourist operation during a visit in August 2007.

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 in poor condition. 

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

(Take a bus between Jember and Probolinggo, get off in the middle of Tanggul, walk or take a becak the short distance south along the road to Semboro, not very frequent yellow minibuses to the mill start 200 metres beyond the level crossing. Alternatively take an ojek from the turn off. When returning, wait at the T junction east of the mill entrance.) 

Firelesses 2 and 3 worked as usual behind the mill for the new season starting about 24th May 2008, the picture below shows one of them 'on shed' on 24th May 2008.

There is no longer any regular 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. In 2006, our LCGB group had both 29 and 15 out although, 15 failed along the way. The Railway Touring Company promised ''many steam locomotives in action" in 2007 and again amazingly 2008, which stretches the definition of 'many'..... 29 performed for our group in July 2008 although 15 is no longer considered up to the job.

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. There was a massive flood in February 2008 which left Situbondo under a metre of water. It also swept away the bridge over the river south-west of the mill. Those field lines beyond it are worked by three small diesels to a new transhipment point some 4km south of Panurukan on the road to Kendit (turn off at the new mosque at the east end of the town). 

41. OLEAN Mill Index

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

(There are occasional minibuses labelled 'Kalbut' from the bus station at Situbondo. Alternatively take a becak some 4km north from the main crossroads in town.)

Olean began milling about 25th May 2008 and started about the same time in 2009. Thanks to Zaenal Combo for this important information. 

However, both Lie Tjeng Chiao and Zaenal Combo reported 'no steam in use this year so far' at the end of July 2009. There is very little cane for the railway to carry and one of the small diesels was covering the west line. Very sad news for those of us who love this place. Later news from Zaenal Combo in mid August was that steam was being used on an occasional basis and those who were unlucky could pay the mill for a charter - understandable but hardly the same as the 'real thing'. For some pictures of one, see,4412993. Not my 'cup of tea', especially here where I don't want to sully my wonderful memories over more than 20 years, something I have been able to share with my tour groups since 1991. I'll leave that to the sad photters who couldn't organise their lives to come here in time, after all it's hardly been a closely guarded secret or inaccessible, with masses of publicity here over the last 10 years or more, similarly elsewhere on the web not to mention the magazines. The risk is, of course, as we have seen again and again in Cuba and latterly China, that when 'real steam' gets mixed up with 'plastic steam', the special magic of 'real steam' will become lost when money starts to change hands, particularly when tour groups are in town...

I attended their 'Selamatan Umum' on 12th May 2008, lots of speeches but plenty of time took look round the 'Sleeping Beauty'. It was the first time I had been to Olean since the release of Sweet Spot and I took the opportunity to give the mill's administrator a copy - he was a bit surprised as he is new here!

In July 2008, one or two steam locomotives were in use here, both taking out the empties and bringing the fulls. A 'well known tour operator' reported in 2007 that everyone at Olean had become over-interested in money, I don't know whom he had met but in 6 days of photographing and riding the trains the crews were more than satisfied with the usual cigarettes and photographs and everyone on the system was as friendly as ever. The mill finished unexpectedly early before the end of September. Expect rail haulage to be abandoned at some stage.

A July 2007 visitor noted field trains arriving at the mill as normal around 15.00 on 2 days. However, a lack of fuel (firewood, no coconut husks reported so far in 2007) in August meant that the empties tended to be diesel hauled and the afternoon trains diesel and just one steam locomotive. However, Steve Noon was here in mid-November and the mill (and steam railway) were still at work with plenty of cane still standing as it had to compete with the better paying maize cutting!

I am totally addicted to Olean and spent 10 days there in September 2006 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 to at least the end of October, in much the same way as ever; 1, 4, 5 and 7 have worked all the trains for some years. 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. The roads in the cane area are being sealed and the railway lines are in poor condition. 

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

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

(The mill is east of the town centre of the same name. Buses between Situbondo and Banyuwangi pass the mill gate.) 

Along with Olean, this mill offers the best chance in Java of finding a daylight steam hauled train of sugar cane. 

However, Lie Tjeng Chiao reported 'no steam in use this year' at the end of July 2009. There is not as much cane as usual and consequently more than enough diesels to cover the south line which steam usually works. Bernd Seiler was able to arrange (as has happened over the years) for steam to substitute for a diesel in August 2009.

Click here for my 2002 private afternoon at Asembagus. This operation is very rewarding photographically but it demands patience as on some days there is no steam activity... 10 and 11 worked alongside the diesels in  2004-6, a July 2007 visitor found 10 at work as usual.. The situation was reported similar in August.

I was at Asembagus just before the season started in mid May 2008. The staff were on a pre-season holiday but 10 and 11 were outside the shed, newly painted and looking very smart:

A July 2008 visitor found steam in use, albeit semi-nocturnal.

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Rob and Yuehong Dickinson