The International Steam Pages

A Day Out on the Cepu Forest Railway

We had a visit to this fascinating railway during our steamy Java Tour 2008 and were back again with the Java Tour 2010. However, current conservation rules in the forest mean we were not able to fell a tree, only (re)load logs.

Much of the plains of Central Java is far from volcanoes and quite dry. Here large areas of teak grow in forests and around Cepu this required a railway to exploit it. Built to 3'6" (1067mm) gauge it was a typical logging railway with steep grades and a line which twists and turns continuously. These days just over 30km remain which are used occasionally for tourist trains and even more occasionally for charter logging trains. These pictures show one such event in July 2002 during my annual Java tour. The star of the show was Bahagia, a rugged Schwartzkopff 0-10-0T:

Assisted by a small DuCroo and Brauns 0-6-0T

First the empties are prepared in the log yard:

We put one locomotive at each end of the train to aid photography. Here is the DB at the watering point:

We don't use the tourist coaches, we ride on the locomotives or wagons. The 'passengers' are the log loaders.

Traditionally all trees were felled using hand saws, the hard hats are a recent innovation:

When an 80 year old teak tree comes down, the earth moves:

Traditionally the logs were moved by bullocks after the trunk is cut up.

For short distances manpower may be used:.

Traditional loading is done with work songs....

After a picnic lunch, it is time to go home, the loaders can have the offcuts for firewood.

Bahagia does a run past in the small part of the original forest left.

Then again in open country:.

Even the little DB gets in on the act:

A last photocall at the water stop:

At the end of yet another successful day, the fire is thrown out: 

See also:

There is also an update on the current scene.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson