The International Steam Pages

Steam in Java 2010

Click here for a brief summary of the main 2010 news.

Java Sugar Diesels - Worth a Second Glance

Java Steam Loco List - See what you missed working!

Inside Java's sugar mills - veteran stationary steam!

The following were written as a blow by blow
account  during the Steamy Java Tour:

John Raby's Steamy Java 2010 blog.

Rob Dickinson's Steamy Java 2010 blog.

I have lost count of my visits to Java since I first went in 1975. In the 35 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. I am proud that in the 20 years I ran tours here between 1991 and 2010, it never became a circus with the staff 'on the make'. Now that the level of reliable daily real steam has reached the level that cannot support a further tour in a way I would feel comfortable with, it's time to quit. My 2010 group ended up paying for guaranteed steam in too many mills and that is a path I would not want to follow again. It's not the cost which is actually modest, it's the principle; I don't listen to the siren voices which say it doesn't matter because in a few years it will all be gone anyway, most of them come from tour operators who sold their souls to the Devil many years ago in the name of making a living. One day Yuehong and I will be back, I am sure, to have a last private look, I just hope no-one else spoils it in the meantime...

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

This is the 2010 report (last updated on 21st August 2010) earlier reports are still 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
(21st August 2010)

Central Java North Coast Mills
(11th September 2010)

Central Java South Coast Mills
(11th September 2010)

Madiun area Mills
(11th September 2010)

Kediri area Mills
(11th September 2010)

Far Eastern Mills
(11th September 2010)

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 2006 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.

Budget or Independent traveller?
David Longman at large in Java in 2006

Budget or Independent traveller?
Read Jan Willem van Dorp's Travel Guide 

Visiting Olean in 2010? Need some help with arranging steam trains?
Please contact Zaenal Combo

For some (by and large unrepeatable) historic pictures see:

In the Heat of the Night
what happens in Java when the sun goes down

Mallet Magic
with an endangered species

Luttermöller 10 wheelers
Java's giants

Fireless locos at Semboro

Tasik Madu 
The Sunan's Own Mill

Olean sugar mill
thunder in the East

Sragi sugar mill
Indonesia's Liquorice Allsorts

Trangkil sugar mill
with its 'modern' steam power


The Main 2010 News in Brief Contents

2006/7 were probably the best sugar seasons in Java for some years, and even in 2008/9 first time visitors seem broadly satisfied by what was on offer given that the real steam clock stands at 3 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). Their 2010 page includes pictures of two locomotives (at Tersana Baru and Gempolkerep) which won't turn a wheel in 2010 and E1060 which is now in West Sumatra! You have to wonder whether their researchers ever bother to read the detailed reports on these pages.... There were few changes apparent in 2008, but 2009 was not a good year for steam and 2010 even worse. Click on the links for more details, by and large milling was expected to start between mid-May and early June, varying slightly from mill to mill.

  • The May/June period in Java was exceptionally wet and milling was both delayed and then disrupted. Later visitors are likely to be more fortunate than the early tourists at least with the weather although by July/early August steam activity was well down on 2008 and even 2009.

  • Fabian Scholz was here for 10 days in mid-August and found marginally more 'real steam' than my loco tour, as detailed in the mill reports. He has uploaded some pictures,

  • Gempolkerep and Jatibarang have ceased steam working, but Soedhono returned to steam in 2009 and at least one steam locomotive was available again in 2010, although hardly used, Pagottan had (temporarily?) retired its two Luttermöllers by July.

  • Olean and Asembagus had insufficient cane available to need to use steam much, if at all, in 2009. Both mills were willing to arrange for steam substitution for a standard fee, a situation which was repeated in 2010.

  • Tasik Madu was working (from late May) but at a reduced level with extra (separate) tourist activity.

  • The other steam mills are reported working much as in 2009 with the inevitable 'retirements'. With steam at a low ebb, these will be significant.

  • The Ambarawa rack railway is operating as per normal with just B2502 and B2503 available now E1060 is back in West Sumatra and C1218 in Solo. The restoration of the line between Ambarawa and Tuntang is making slow progress and should be ready for steam trains before the end of 2010.

  • C1218 has been sent to Solo to operate tourist trains - click here for a report.

  • The Cepu Forest Railway was reinstated so that special trains could again run in 2008 and is available for groups again in 2010.

  • I have updated the Java diesels page with new arrivals at Semboro (14th July 2010)

The following were written as a blow by blow
account  during the Steamy Java Tour:

John Raby's Steamy Java 2010 blog.

Rob Dickinson's Steamy Java 2010 blog.

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 has headed for Solo where it is working tourist trains on part of 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, whether it will return in the near future depends on the success or otherwise of the Solo operation.

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 2008/09/10 seasons. 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. 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..... This is a railway I no longer wish to deal with, somehow the trains always seem to run for tour parties but behind the scenes, it is a constant battle with a management in both Cepu and Jakarta which at best is incompetent and at worst totally untrustworthy.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson