The International Steam Pages

Oil Palm Steam in Sumatra

When I last visited North Sumatra in August 1993, I found steam in terminal decline and have not bothered to go back since. Much to my surprise there have been relatively recent visits here and I am indebted to Rod Farr (6/95) and Geoff Lanham (2/95) from whom the report below is derived. Further news would be much appreciated! All the Mallets are 0-4-4-0T built by DuCroo & Brauns (DB), the only other active locos in PTP VII are 0-6-0s by DB and Maffei. Potential visitors should note that there are good air services to Medan, from where you can take a bus or train to Pematang Siantar. PTP VII's HQ is at Bah Jambi nearby and should be your first port of call. Sawit Sebrang is some way north of Medan. The gauge is 700mm except for the internal system at Dolok Ilir.

Overall it's a long way to go for very little, made worse by PTP VII trying to charge a negotiable fee of U$40 a day per person and quite tight mill security. However, visitors still say they are glad they went if they hadn't been before and the staff at Sawit Sebrang are more relaxed!

The pictures were all taken in the early 1990s.  I suspect that few could be taken again in 1998.

The story is one of massive dereliction with working locos vastly outnumbered by wrecks at most mills.

Bah Jambi
Steam survives, just, with one or two Mallets (67 and 104) shunting the yard as required.

Bah Jambi 67 in 1990 on the line

Dolok Ilir
The 700 mm system has been abandoned and much of it taken up. The 600 mm system within the mill survives with at least 2 (out of 3, 7 and 8) of the Maffei 0-6-0T used intensively.

Dolok Ilir 600mm gauge

Dolok Ilir 98

Very little activity although DB Mallet 75 is still used to take the oil to Gunung Bayu. DB 0-6-0 3 is under repair but would appear to have no work as it is too small for the trains to Gunung Bayu and all the yard work is by cable.

Mayang 8

Mayang 95

Gunung Bayu
One or two DB 0-6-0s locos steamed everyday with the plantation line to the south still in use.

Gunung Bayu 9

Dolok Sinumbah
At least 3 locos in use (all Mallets), one around the mill, one for the estate line to the west and one for the Gunung Bayu transfer trains.

Dolok Sinumbah 61

Dolok Sinumbah 64

PTP II - Sawit Sebrang
OK 0-4-0T 7 was in steam but appeared to have little work.

Sawit Sebrang 3

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson