Part 7 : Pekalongan, Pemalang and Tegal

Back in until 2014, if you are a narrow gauge steam loco enthusiast, just like me, the North Coast of Central Java was an adorable place to see. 3 sugar mills located on 3 different cities along the North Coast of Central Java, and all the steam locos are dominating all of the sugar mills. So in another words, you can say that the North Coast of Central Java was the grand stage of Java’s steam locos. As usual, from East to West, let's start at Pekalongan, moving to Pemalang and last stop at Tegal.

In Pekalongan, as you go West of the small town, you have the Sragi Sugar Mill. According from a local enthusiast that I met, Syaeful Hartono, Sragi Sugar Mill last saw the operation of their field lines somewhere around 2003 - 2004 milling season. After the mill ripped up all their field lines, it turned into a large live real steam 'museum', the Indonesian version if you like, considering as many as 6 to 8 steam locos were in action here and there as they whizz about in the huge road delivery yard and propel the canes into the cane tables. Not just that, but they also have the most varied collection of steam locos. Some of them, and my faves, are described below.

The typical Klien-Lindner axles O&K 0-8-0T that were delivered to Java were also amongst the collection of Sragi Sugar Mill, as being photographed in an evening prior to sunset during the 2014 milling season.

Another unique collection of steam fleet that Sragi have is this no.17 Jung 0-8-0T. There aren't that many Java mills, well, not that I know of anyway, that have a Jung loco. The only Java mills that were sent Jung locos that I had came across are Jatibarang, Pangkah (described below), Sragi (above photo) and Semboro. Other places, the typical locos are the O&K with the huge chimney as seen previously.

In addition to Sragi's line up of steams, and I must say one of my favourite steams, is this very impressive 0-10-0T built by Berliner (BMAG, formerly Schwartzkopff). Again, just as the Jung loco, there are only a few places that received such loco. These places are Sragi, Ceper, Olean (reportedly originally delivered to De Maas or the earlier shut down mill at Phaiton), (reportedly) Sindanglaut, and of course the cape gauge loco at Cepu Teak Forest.

And last but not least, a unique member of Sragi's line up, is this former Balung - Ambulu 600 mm roadside tramway. When the line shut down in the late 60's, it was purchased by the (Indonesian) Department of Public Works to build a dam, before it was purchased by Sragi. Seen on the photo, is the beauty being fed with firewood on an evening of 2014 milling season.

Another unique feature of Sragi is they have a sub depot, or a secondary depot, at the shut down mill in Comal. The locos that are thought to be filling up the spaces at Sragi depot are being stored at Comal. They have a collection of locos, including some Du Croo en Brauns, former Pangkah's Jung, and the two identical twins of the no.1 that was purchased by Statfold Barn Railway Museum in England.

The ex engine shed of Comal Sugar Mill that was later functioned as a secondary shed to Sragi. Seen on the photo is the collection of dumped locos, including a couple of D&B's, 2 Jung's and the other 2 twins of the former SS locos.

Just had a quick time for a pose by the two identical twins to Sragi's no.1 now at Statfold Barn Railway Museum in England. Seen on the photo, I'm (with the white shirt) posing with another narrow gauge enthusiast who lives in Pekalongan, Syaeful Hartono (with the dark blue PSG jacket), posed inside the Comal Shed.

Unfortunately, just like the other mills at PTPN IX, Sragi last saw the final glories of their steams was at 2014. 2015 had fully converted to tractors due to the expensive price of firewood. In 2016, the Farrail group tried to charter it. Even though the only serviceable loco was the no.7 Berliner, however, it was clear that the glory days of steam at Sragi have become a bygone era.

I was also fortunate enough to make video documentations during the 3 of my visits in 2012, 2013 and 2014, which can all be seen below.

2012 visit

2013 visit

2014 visit

By the time I started going around Java in search of real steams (without any arrangements except for permits) in 2012, steams that ran to cane fields (almost) become a thing of the past. Thankfully, again, by the help of Syaeful Hartono and a German enthusiast who normally visit Indonesia, Steffan Matthaus, and assisted by the experienced Tjeng Chao (TC), they helped me to find Sumberharjo. It was unbelievable that scenes at Olean could be repeated in Central Java, despite since 2003 and after, Sumberharjo was the only mill left at Central Java who still have their field lines. Not to mention so many steam locos (3 to 4 steams) wondering around the mill. So here they are.

First of all, let's check out the field duties. No.9 0-8-0T built by Du Croo en Brauns is wating for the made up cane train in the East cane fields. Photo dated 2012.

Another field duty regular is this no.7 0-8-0T O&K built, as photographed in the morning of 2014 milling season, with the mill's chimney continues to puff out a huge amount of smoke.

Onto the yard shunter. 6 was a regular since 2013, with its tender being detached, as photographed on an afternoon during the 2013 milling season.

In 2015, I was hoping to repeat the same moment in 2014. However, my visit came to a hault when the only thing I saw running was this no.8 Hokuriku 0-6-0DH diesel. By this time, I made a decision to call it a time to visit mills in Northern Coast of Central Java.

Again, I was lucky that I had documented videos from my visits in 2012 and 2014. 2013? Well, let's just say an idiot Indonesian tour guide being paid by a stupid Japanese told me to leave the premises as the whole mill along with the steam locos 'belonged' to them for the whole day.

2012 action

2014 action

On to our last stop and we reach Tegal. In Tegal, there’s Pangkah Sugar Mill. Even though they do not operate their field lines anymore, 2012 still saw 4 steam locos and two Moes Belgian diesel locos at work, where the  4 steam locos take turns between the shifts, 2 steam locos are run in the morning, and another 2 different steam locos in the afternoon. The steam locos do the job of delivering the canes from the truck yard to the rear section of the mill and push the lorries to the milling machine, whereas the Moes diesel locos do the job of shunting the empties. They also run a tourist train but during my visit, you have to charter it beforehand.

No.2 Jung 0-6-2T works the road deliveries on an afternoon during the 2012 milling season, posed on the road delivery crane.

Still with the no.2 Jung 0-6-2T on the inside siding, taking the canes from road deliveries towards the cane table. Photo dated 2012.

No.14 Belgian built Moes diesel with the tourist train on the theme park. Photo dated 2015.

In 2015, the only thing that ran was the no.14 Moes diesel. This was the sight at the depot in 2015, no more steam locomotive line up posing in front of it. The only line up in 2015 was this cold no.2 Jung 0-6-2T, and this time, it only ran on a charter basis for 2 million IDR. Another mill on another borrowed (extra) time.

Although I revisited the mill in 2015 with high hopes of repeating the moment of 2012, however, my highlight was definitely the 2012 visit. I went to Pangkah in 2012 by clinging on to Steffan Matthaus and Tjeng Chao. Steffan insisted he stayed at the mill for the whole day. At the time, I was so bored by the end of the day for watching the same identical Jung locos passing by. But now looking back, I'm glad that I stayed at Pangkah for the whole day in 2012. And for that reason as well, that I managed to have this video. Regrets of not revisiting it in 2013 and 2014 always will always come to haunt me, but I try not to look back at them. What had happened happened, and there can't be no turning backs.

Jung loco in action at Pangkah Sugar Mill, dated 2012.

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