The International Steam Pages

Sragi Sugar Mill - Java's Liquorice Allsorts

Since this page was prepared, the field lines at Sragi have all been closed. However, steam is still hard at work in the yard around the mill.

It is 06.00 in the morning in Central Java and the sun has been up for half an hour. Around the shed gently simmering are nearly 20 narrow gauge (a mere 600mm) steam locos from 9 different European builders. It could have been the scene 50 years ago, but in fact it is a daily occurrence during the sugar milling season from May to September in the 21st Century.

Sragi is simply unique. Just over 10 years ago, the mill was completely rebuilt and a large number of Japanese diesels appeared. In many places, steam would have been parked in the undergrowth and left to rust. Here, the diesels were just assimilated and seem barely busier than the ancient steam locos. Certainly the system is large, a constant stream of trucks delivers cane to the transhipment yard whence the larger Berliner and some of the Hartmann locos propel it to the nearby mill.

Both types are unusual, the Berliners have extra side play with a dummy 6th axle to hold everything together while the Hartmanns were bought second hand from Staats Spoorwegen (the Dutch East Indies State Railways).

Meanwhile, the smaller locos, often the unique Decauville and Krauss, both with new 1980s boilers, are returning the empties.

Click here for the 2002 Sragi roster - all the locomotives shown here were running in 2002

Centenarian Decauville 0-4-2T 15 in 2001

Sragi 15

Centenarian Krauss 0-4-2T 1 in 2002

Henschel 0-4-0T 11 in 1997

Henschel 11

OK 0-6-0T 14 in 2000

OK 14

Early morning line up in 1998 (all 3 Berliners and 1 Hartmann)

morning glory

Berliner 0-10-0T 5 propels in the fulls

Sragi 5 at work

Berliner 0-10-0T 6 at rest

Sragi 6, one of three Berliner 0-10-0T

Bullocks on the temporary track

Getting ready for the main line haul

Jung 0-8-0 17 on a cane train in 2000

17 in 2000

Jung 0-8-0 17 on a cane train in 2001

17 in 2001

Hartmann 0-8-0T 12 rests in the fields in 2000

java0009.jpg (30158 bytes)

12 running in from Comal in 2001

java0104.jpg (42087 bytes)

OK 0-8-0T on a cane train in 2000

20 in 2000

OK 0-8-0T 19 outside the mill in 2001

 19 in 2001

Steam and diesel share the duties in the fields, taking out the empties in mid-morning and returning with fulls, often frustratingly late at night. However, Sragi is actually 2 systems in 1 as it also operates the system of the closed mill at Comal about 5km to the west. The gutted building still stands and behind it is a small 'sub-shed' on which up to 8 locos are based. Every day, cane collected from here is transferred overnight to Sragi, hence the daily gathering before the empties are returned to Comal and on to the fields again. Add in the twice daily mud trains with their ancient 'skips' and you have an assortment which cannot be rivalled anywhere in the world. Finding the locos in the fields is an art, although it helps that the field inspectors have CB radios and the transportation office near the yard has a large map!

However, do not wait too long, in recent years Sragi has been operating at well below capacity as most people would rather work all the year round in a modern air-conditioned factory that cut cane for a few in months the tropical heat. The future of steam here and most of the rest of Java is very uncertain, already several of the steam locomotives including the DB, Hanomag and the small OKs have not been used for several years.

There is a complete roster of current and recent industrial steam locomotives in Java which of course includes Sragi.

See also:

There is also an update on the current scene.

Rob Dickinson