The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Another Visit to 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.

My first 'Once upon a time....' featured pictures of Mallet tender locos working on the Cibatu - Garut branch back in 1983. Earlier this year I revisited Indonesia for the first time since then and although my main aim was to see steam engines working on the sugar railways I also visited the two open air museums where Indonesian Railways have placed a number of their steam fleet on display.

The first museum was at Tamin Mini in Jakarta. Tamin Mini is a 'whole country in one' park concept and I enjoyed the displays until I found the railway section. The engines were dusty, rusty, dirty and crammed together in such a way it was extremely difficult to take photos. This shot of old friend CC5001 (Werkspoor 558 of 1928) shows the condition most of the engines are sadly now in.

A couple of weeks later and I was at Ambarawa home of the Railway's other museum. Here the locos are displayed in park like surroundings making photography a lot easier. Some were in as poor a condition as those at Tamin Mini but others, like CC5029 (SLM 3253 of 1928), had recently been painted and didn't look too bad. Maybe a bit too much red and white paint had been used but overall Ambarawa presented a more positive picture.

Museum locomotives aren't the same as working ones though and once home I got out the relevant slides to reacquaint myself with this attractive looking class of 2-6-6-0 Mallets in steam and working trains. So now lets go back to May 1983 and revisit the CC50 class that then held sway on the Cibatu to Garut line in Western Java. Service on the twenty five kilometre line consisted of three daily passenger trains, taking just over an hour each way, and the occasional train of petrol tankers.

It looks good and it looks real.....a close up of CC5019.

Another look at CC5019 (Werkspoor 570 of 1928), this time in entirety, as it sits outside the Cibatu Loco Depot. Thirty of these fine looking engines were built but by now only a handful remained in use and all based at Cibatu.

If you photograph trains in Indonesia somewhere along the way children are going to get in the shot! Another generation was still as fascinated by the white visitor in 2012 as an earlier generation had been in 1983.....and at times they can be just as annoying!

A diesel hauled passenger train departs Cibatu on the main while, on the right, CC5030 (SLM 3254 of 1928) comes up from the depot to run the connecting service on to Garut.

Coupled onto its train the loco appears to be as long as the two carriages and van consist. With the afternoon being so dull I decided this was going to be a good opportunity for a cab ride and the driver was in agreement (for a consideration).

The following day the sun was shining as CC5001 rolled sedately onto the bridge just outside Cibatu.

A well filled train, with an unidentified CC50 in charge, ambles past field workers on the outskirts of Garut.

As a conclusion to this tale I can do no better than repeat Rob Dickinson's comment from that very first tale: "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."  

Rob Dickinson