The International Steam Pages

I Have a Dream, Solo 1972 - 2010

This is one of a series of pages from July and August 2010 which records our travels from China to Malaysia and on to Java, Indonesia where we were hosting the 'Steamy Java Tour 2010'. This one is a little out of order as it was part of our recce trip to Java in May 2010. Click here for the main Winds of Change index page.

Although few people can claim as long a continuous experience of Java as I can, I was not the first enthusiast to get there by any means. One of my favourite pictures on our Incredible Indonesia CD-Rom is this from Blake Paterson:

It shows C2010 going down Jalan Slamet Riyadi in Solo in July 1972, but the line was dieselised by the time I got there in 1975. Amazingly, it still survives and there is a daily train along it to and from Wonogiri, seen here at Purwosari station:

10 years ago I talked with local railway officials about my dream to run a steam loco down the street again. but at the time the only serviceable locomotives were the B25 at Ambarawa. Back in 2002, I organised the rescue of C1218 from the shed at Cepu and it was later restored to working order at Ambarawa. In 2009, it was moved to Solo as a tourist initiative and finally on May15th 2010, I was able to realise my dream and ride and photograph a steam train in the streets of Solo:

Living in Java and interested in a ride or organising your own charter train?
See Sepur Kluthuk Jaladara (link broken by December 2021)

Yuehong and I were in Java to set up our July 2010 steam tour and on our first visit to Solo we arranged with Oka Zakaria who runs the operation (Sepur Kluthuk Jaladara ( link broken by December 2021)) to join a public train later in the visit. These days C1218 (and its two 4 wheel coaches) are kept securely under cover at the loco shed at Purwosari, and we arrived as C1218 was raising steam.

You can't rush a 100 year old lady into action and it was some while before we were ready to roll. The shed is on the wrong side for the Wonogiri branch and some toing and froing was needed to get the train into the station.

This was not an enthusiasts' charter so there were to be limited photo opportunities and I had to create my own luck. As the train slowed on the curve on to the main street, I was able to jump off, sprint ahead and 'do the business' to the amazement of everyone - like the Red Sea, the traffic had parted only this time it was courtesy of the local police.

There were a couple for stops for tourist attractions so the loco could be serviced and the local gricers could have their pictures taken by their wives.

At which point I just had to wait extremely patiently for the traffic to ease.

We had to squeeze past the becaks outside the main kraton (palace) before leaving the road to enter Solo Kota station:

Here the loco took water (the column was recently rescued from Klaten) and the tourists were entertained on the platform:

All too soon we had to return to Purwosari, maybe it was just as well as the heavens were about to open yet again - not a good sign with the sugar season due to start soon.

Thanks are due to the train crew who have adapted well to their new duties:

Most of all thanks are due to the most unsung of Java's steam heroes, Pak Pudjiono who is the chief at Ambarawa and who has forgotten more about steam locomotives than I have ever known:

and, of course, that wonderful old lady herself, C1218:

Rob Dickinson