The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
The last working Mallet tender engines in the world..., Java, 1983

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.

(In this case, I (RD) have added a few notes to cast a bit more light on the pictures, Wilson having been to busy enjoying himself at the time to put pen to paper!)

By May 1983, the CC50 2-6-6-0 Mallets at Cibatu in the hills of West Java above Bandung were living on borrowed time. The branch to Cikajang had been cut back to Garut and the service would probably have finished if it were not for the fact that Pertamina was still sending oil traffic to the depot there. A year after these pictures were taken, it was history. A notice appeared on the station at Cibatu announcing the abandonment in words to the effect that the coaches were broken, the locomotives unserviceable and the track in too dangerous a condition to run trains. Game over, in other words.

Passenger revenue was not substantial, as Wilson writes "To ride the train passengers could buy a ticket at the station or make a smaller cash payment to either the guard or loco crew depending on where they chose to ride. I rode the footplate and contributed/bribed enough to ensure sole occupancy! "

Cibatu was a small railway village in the middle of nowhere, the only buildings of any size or significance were the station and the locomotive shed. Unless you came on a train that stopped there, then it was almost inaccessible by public transport. As a result most gricers made their way to Garut which was a fair sized town with a regular bus service from Bandung. There were some very ordinary hotels in the place whose only virtue was that they were close to the station and Wilson camped out in one of them (as I had done a couple of times in the 1970s).

CC5019 plods up into Garut on the last stage of its journey up from Cibatu. The yellow and black tower behind the whistle steam is the base for a Dutch semaphore signal.

CC5019 shunts a long line of Pertamina oil tankers under the watchful gaze of a gaggle of young boys.

CC5019 was Werkspoor 570 of 1928.- one worksplate is attached to the cabside in the picture above.

By now, dozens if not hundreds of enthusiast must have found their way to Garut but they never lost their fascination to  the youth of West Java. CC5019 takes water before its return journey, the overcast conditions were not unusual in this mountainous area, especially as the day wore on.

Nearer to Cibatu the line ran on an embankment and there were several girder bridges, CC5019 drifts down over one of the smaller ones in the morning with a well loaded train and is seen again immediately afterwards:

By the time the train returned, the sun was much higher and the loco detail is lost. Wilson identifies this as CC5001, Werkspoor 558/1928, he also had a cab ride on CC5030 one of the identical SLM built locomotives (3254/1928)..

This is the same locomotive, departing from Garut. The prospect of a soaking has not discouraged the tender riders who probably outnumbered the passengers inside the coaches.

The identity of this CC50 is not known, but it made a fine sight as it plodded along past some recently harvested rice fields:

Rob Dickinson