The International Steam Pages
Trangkil, Home of England's Last Steam Locomotive
I have left this page available as a tribute to Trangkil's steam railway. Unfortunately, all the field lines were lifted at the end of the 2002 season and what was left was a rump steam operation in a remodelled yard which may not even be repeated in 2004, only 2 and 3 involved in light shunting. And, of course, 4 has gone to Britain to be a rich man's toy.
Click here for the 2002 Trangkil roster.
While working railways all over the world are junking their steam locomotives, Trangkil sugar mill in northern Central Java not only keeps its fleet of small narrow gauge (750 mm) locomotives going but would probably gratefully accept any more if it could find them at the right price. The Indonesian government has traditionally maintained an inflated internal price for sugar to protect the smaller less efficient (nationalised) mills which have provided rural employment, and this has made well-run privately owned mills like this quite profitable, although it was as badly affected by the 1999 problems.
Compared to most mills in Java, Trangkil has a 'modern' fleet of steam locomotives, none of them more than 70 years old:
Any one of them would be a treasure but for most British enthusiasts, #4 is the great draw. Three years after main line steam finished, this small Hunslet 'saddle tank' loco, built to a Kerr Stuart design of 50 years earlier, was arguably England's last working locomotive built, if later replicas and locos for tourist purposes are discounted.
Unlike many mills which do not let their locos stray far from home, Trangkil's fleet is intensively used on the estate lines which lie all around the mill. Early each morning, dozens of empty cane cars are distributed to the fields where cutting is taking place. The locos then return to the mill at midday for servicing and a shift change. By 13.00 they are on their way back to the fields where the cars will be full or nearly full.
The mill's main line lies to the south of the mill, alongside the main road where the trains rub shoulders with buses and trucks hurtling about their business, enthusiasts after their photographs need to keep their wits about them to avoid being mowed down. However, along the branches and the lines to the north of the mill, life is quieter and it possible to enjoy the classic sight of a loaded cane train slogging through small villages, paddy fields and, of course, sugar cane. Often, there is sufficient traffic to require some of the locos to make a second trip before sunset, but this is one mill where there are very few night trains.
The sugar mill is 12km north of Pati on the road north to Tayu. There are adequate hotels in Pati (try the Hotel Pati). Enthusiasts are always very welcome especially those wanting to ride the locos armed with supplies of cigarettes or photos for the crew.
DB 0-6-0 1 in 2001
Jung 0-4-0 2 in 1999
Jung 0-4-0 2 in 1999
Berliner 0-4-0 3 in 2001
Hunslet 0-4-2ST 4 in 2000
4 in 2001
1999 double header
2001 double header
While visiting Trangkil don't forget to see nearby Pakis Baru sugar mill with its classic 90 year old steam power - albeit out of use.
There is also an update on the current scene.