The International Steam Pages

Steam in Kertapati, South Sumatra in 1983

Keith Scoffham was based in the Palembang area for part of the time he was working in oil and gas in Indonesia from 1979 to 1986. At this time, steam was in steep decline on the South Sumatran system and indeed by the time I visited in August 1984 the only active mainline steam locomotive was C3065 and that was under contract hire to PT Bukit Asam which had a coal terminal to handle the output from their coal mine at Tanjung Enim. The pictures below have not aged too well, but they represent a valuable record of the 'end of steam' in a rarely visited part of the Indonesian railway system, 

Writing in Power Parade some 10 years earlier, Dusty Durrant wrote 'This section has very little to offer, and apart from the C50 4-6-2 is hardly worth visiting.' Of course, by this time the last C50 was long gone and when I compiled the Incredible Indonesia.CD-ROM I found it very difficult to dig up any pictures at all of when the railway was still quite steamy. I (RD) accept total responsibility for the captions below which I have written based on my own experience in Indonesia which runs to some 40 years of regular visits.

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This is a general view of Kertapati shed with a C30 2-6-2T outside it. The gentleman crossing the tracks appears to be 'liberating' some of the coal from the transfer yard on the right of the picture.
This is a close up view of Kertapati shed and with steam operation at a low ebb, it is almost empty. No doubt the diesels had their own separate maintenance depot..
  C3082 and C3065 rest outside Kertapati shed. The latter was the locomotive later chartered to PTBA, which is probably why it was chosen eventually to go to the railway museum at Taman Mini on the outskirts of Jakarta on Java.
This is C3082, apart from three examples in West Sumatra, all of this numerous class was based in South Sumatra in later years although some had been sent elsewhere in South East Asia, including Cambodia, by the Japanese during the Second World War.
  This is the worksplate on C3082. Apart from Hanomag, other locomotives of this class were built by Hohnezollern, Borsig and Werkspoor.
  This is a close up of C3065, later PTBA paid for it to go through Lahat works, almost certainly the last steam overhaul done there.
Keith took the opportunity to 'cab' C3072. It appears that he has come straight from a day in the office.
Like all large Indonesian cities, Palembang would have attracted economic migrants who were often squatters next to the railway lines. One of the D52s drifts past a temporary home.
This is D52010 with a traditional freeloader. The area was totally flat (it was very swampy) and there would have been no overbridges to worry about!
  D52047 rests on shed between duties. Little boys the world over have a fascination with railways and these two were lucky enough to be able to play around their idol. The bag on the front of the loco probably contained coal for the crew's family to cook with, it certainly wouldn't have been needed for heating!
  D52047 takes water. For the squatters, this was probably their cleanest source of water to do their washing. No doubt they would have showered under the water crane as well. Young ladies when disturbed so engaged would try to cover their modesty but such was their relaxed nature that they usually returned a friendly wave...
  Another little boy gets to live out his dreams. The D52 were built by Krupp, D52047 should have carried works number 3270 but the plate appears to be 3258 which would have corresponded to D52035 which was also stationed here. Each D52 carried no less than six numberplates as well as two worksplates and a Krupp triangle. As a souvenir set they would comfortably have exceeded the free baggage allowance for a visitor but many indeed found their way to Europe and other parts of the world. 
  Inside the cab of what, from the shuttering on the window and the size of the firebox, I assume to be a D52 probably D52047 above.
  A pile of ballast is unloaded from a truck, in the far background is the shed and the signal cabin is shown in the next picture. The ballast was brought in from some distance by truck as there was no suitable local supply near the railway.
  This is the signal cabin of traditional Dutch design.
  A D52 with a set of PTBA coal wagons approaches a level crossing. Despite the barriers, which no-one has bothered to lower, the line itself is completely unfenced and on the left are examples of traditional Indonesian public transport, a becak and a horse drawn dokar, both of which 30 years later must be endangered species. 
From the original scan, most likely this is D52029 which, according to Durrant's 'Loko Uap' was one of ten D52 2-8-2s allocated to the system mainly for working coal trains between Kertapati and Tanjung Enim.


Rob Dickinson