26 October 2008

E1060 is going home

On 3 December 2008 E1060 left Ambarawa

One of the of the four locomotives preserved in working order at the Ambarawa Railway Museum, the E1060, will soon return home. This rack and pinion engine was brought to Ambarawa in 1981 from West Sumatera. There it played an important role in transporting coal mined around Sawahlunto to Emmahaven (Teluk Bayur port). E1060, which was built in 1966 by Esslingen, Germany, and other engines in the series, however, had a relatively short working life. Within a couple of years they were displaced by rack Diesel engines.

The regional head of PTKA (the Indonesian Railway company) in Semarang informed the Indonesian Railway Preservation Society (IRPS) Semarang that E1060 is already being prepared to be transported to West Sumatra. The Central Java provincial government has agreed to release E1060 and the governor of West Sumatera and the mayor of Sawahlunto have agreed to share the cost of moving E1060. In West Sumatera E1060 will be put in to service to haul tourist trains and is most likely to be based at the Sawahlunto Railway Museum. This small railway museum was opened in December 2005 at the former Sawahlunto station, which dates from 1918.

One thing, however, is troubling rail enthusiasts in Semarang. It is the question of whether E1060 will be properly cared and maintained in its new home. It has been more than two decades since steam engines stopped operating in West Sumatera and it is doubtful whether there are any people there who have the skills to maintain and operate steam engines. I have been told that two retired Ambarawa dipo staff will be sent to West Sumatera to train people there. But up to now who they actually are remains a mystery. When people at the Ambarawa dipo where asked about this, no one could (or would) give an answer.

E1060 at the Ambarawa Railway Museum (photo: Rob Dickinson)

E1060 pulang kampuang

Satu dari empat lokomotif uap operasional di Museum Kereta Api Ambarawa, E1060, akan segera pulang kampung. Lokomotif bergerigi ini dibawa ke Ambarawa dari Sumatera Barat pada 1981. Di sana lokomotif itu memainkan peran penting dalam mengangkut batu bara dari tambang-tambang di sekitar Sawahlunto ke Emmahaven (pelabuhan Teluk Bayur). Tapi E1060, buatan Esslingen 1966, dan lokomotif lain dari seri yang sama mempunyai masa kerja pendek. Dalam waktu beberapa tahun lokomotif-lokomotif itu digeser oleh lokomotif Diesel.

Kepala Daerah Operasi 4 PT Kereta Api mengatakan pada Indonesian Railway Preservation Society (IRPS) Semarang bahwa E1060 sedang dipersiapkan untuk dibawa ke Sumatera Barat. Pemerintah Provinsi Jawa Tengah telah setuju untuk melepaskan E1060 dan Gubernur Sumatera Barat dan Walikota Sawahlunto sepakat untuk bersama memikul biaya pemindahan E1060. Di Sumatera Barat E1060 akan dipakai untuk menarik kereta api wisata dan diperkirakan akan ditempatkan di Museum Kereta Api Sawahlunto. Museum kecil ini diresmikan pada Desember 2005, menempati bekas Setasiun Sawahlunto yang dibangun pada 1918.

Ada satu hal yang menjadi kekhawatiran para pecinta kereta api di Semarang. Kekhawatiran itu ialah apakah E1060 akan mendapatkan perawatan dan pemeliharaan yang cukup di rumahnya yang baru. Lebih dari dua dasawarsa telah berlalu sejak kereta api uap berhenti beroperasi di Sumatera Barat dan diragukan apakah di sana masih ada orang yang mempunyai ketrampilan memelihara dan mengoperasikan lokomotif uap. Saya mendapat informasi dua pensiunan dipo Ambarawa akan ditempatkan di Sumatera Barat untuk melatih tenaga di sana. Tapi siapa mereka sebenarnya masih merupakan misteri. Ketika hal itu saya tanyakan pada staf dipo Ambarawa tidak ada yang bisa (atau mau) menjawab.

Museum Kereta Api Sawahlunto (Sawahlunto Railway Museum)
Jl. Kampung Teleng
Kelurahan Pasar, Kecamatan Lembah Segar
Kota Sawahlunto, West Sumatera
Telephone/ fax: + 62-754-61023

Semarang Heritage Walk: Railway to the Past

The first stop was at the railway heritage exhibition at the former "De Locomotief" newspaper building in the Old Town of Semarang. In the colonial era "De Locomotief" was one of - if not the most - progressive newspapers in Netherlands India. It was named "De Locomotief" because locomotives at that time were seen as symbols of progress and modernity.

There were so many people who wanted to join the tour, more than the organisers had expected. Because of the demand, it was decided that instead of limiting the participants to 90, the maximum number would be 160. Three large buses were used to carry the participants. About two-third were university students of history, language and architecture. There were also some exchange students from Brazil sponsored by the local Rotary Club.

Semarang Gudang (formerly Samarang NIS, Semarang's - and Indonesia's - first railway station) is officialy still a station but practically abandoned because of the constant storm and tidewater flooding. The picture above shows the platform under water even though the sky was cloudless.

Samarang NIS terminus in 1867. On the left wing is the passanger platform, on the right wing is the goods station. When the new NIS station in Tawang was finished in 1914 part of this building was knocked down to make way for the tracks to the new station, leaving only the goods wing.

Semarang Gudang locomotive shed still exists, but inside it has been divided into small "apartments" of former PTKA employees. The building's floor and surrounding grounds have been raised to prevent flooding so it now looks considerably shorter than it originally was (see picture below)

(Photo: Basil Roberts)

Semarang Gudang shed in 1971 with C1406, originally SDS 6, in the foreground. This engine was built by Beyer Peacock, Manchester (UK) for the Serajoedal Stoomtram Maatschappij (SDS) in 1896. C1406 has not survived but classmates C1412 is at Ambarawa, while C1414 is on a plinth at Tegal works.

The PTKA (Indonesian Railway Company) Semarang office - formerly the joint office of the four Sister Companies / Zustermaatschappijen (Samarang Joana Stoomtram Maatschappij (SJS), Semarang Cheribon Stoomtram Maatschappij (SCS), Serajoedal Stoomtram Maatschappij (SDS) and the Oost-Java Stoomtram Maatschappij (OJS) - was designed by the influential architect and town planner Thomas Karsten (1885-1945). Karsten is much admired, among other things, for his ability to design buildings which are now considered "environmentally friendly" and "energy saving" long before the terms were even coined. The Sister Company building, built in 1930, is no exception. Here Karsten makes maximum use of natural ventilation and lighting. Karsten, who was married to an Indonesian women, also highly appreciated Indonesian art and culture, and this too is reflected in the design of his buildings.

Old postcard of the Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NIS) head office, Semarang

The Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NIS / Netherlands Indian Railway Company) headquarters was the first modern office building built in Semarang. Located at a prominent site, it is one of Semarang's main landmarks. The people call it "Lawang Sewu" (Thousand Doors), referring to its many doors. It was built in 1902 to the design of the architects JF Klinkhamer and BJ Ouendag. During the Japanese occupation its basement was used as a prison, and during the war of independence it was site of violent struggle between Indonesian youths and Japanese forces who had surrendered to the Allies. Unfortunately this beautiful and historically important building is now abandoned and its future uncertain.

The friendly gentleman on the right will guide you on an underground tour through the building's dark and damp basement. Because people think the NIS building is haunted, this is also a kind of a "ghost walk."

Lunch was served at Semarang Restaurant. This restaurant is owned by Jongkie Tio, a recognised authority on the history of Semarang and writter of several books about Semarang. Some samples from his vast collection of photos of old Semarang can be seen in the restaurant. By the way, those seriously enjoying their meals are Tommi (right) who designed the railway heritage exhibition, and was responsible for all the graphic design (banners, posters, T-shirt) as well, and my son Nandi (left).

After lunch we travelled to Ambarawa, about 30 kilometers south of Semarang, to take a trip on the steam train passing through Java's only rack and pinion line. The driver and fireman who operated the B2502 steam engine on this trip are former Diesel drivers being trained to replace Pudjiono and Darwanto, the current drivers at Ambarawa. According to Darwanto, who will retire next year (Pudjiono will retire in 2010), the two men, Heru and Slamet, have been taking turns doing most of the driving in the last three months. Soon, another driver from the Poncol depo will join the team in Ambarawa. So, it seems there will be no crisis of drivers in Ambarawa after all.

In the "back seat" a rather tense instructor watches his students drive the engine.

But, actually there was nothing to worry about. The trip itself was smooth and uneventful (as a good rail trip should be: no sudden drop of steam pressure, no stopping to take water halfway up the hills, no snapped brakes, no leaking cylinders, and no derailment; all of which have happened before), so it seems that Heru and Slamet are good students. Or was it just good luck?

Ambarawa station, safe arrival of the train from Bedono. Because of the large number of participants, they were divided into two groups. The first went on the uphill trip by train and returned to Ambarawa from Bedono by bus. The second group went up by bus and came down on the steam train. Not all were happy with this arrangement, but no one really complained (perhaps because the price of the tour was very, very cheap even by Indonesian standards). In any case, everyone had a good time.

Seno Prakoso, Coordinator of the Semarang Heritage Walk 2008

24 October 2008

Semarang Railway Heritage Exhibition

De Locomotief

Model lokomotif D52, jenis lokomotif uap lintas raya pertama dan terakhir yang didatangkan ke Indonesia setelah kemerdekaan. Model indah ini ini milik PT Kereta Api Daop 4 Semarang
Logo IRPS dan pendukung lain pada spanduk

Kadaop 4 Semarang PTKA Eddy S. Jokosewoyo (kanan) melihat pameran

Pameran:"Meretas Jalan Menuai Waktu: Sejarah perkeretaapian di Semarang" 24 - 31 Oktober 2008


Hari/ Tanggal: Jumat, 24 Oktober 2008
Tempat : Gedung eks "De Locomotief"Taman Srigunting, Kota Lama Semarang
Jam: 19.00

MERETAS JALAN MENUAI WAKTU (Sejarah Kereta Api di Semarang)

Semarang merupakan tonggak awal dibangunnya jalur kereta api pertama di Indonesia. Beberapa peninggalan yang menggambarkan perjalanan perkeretapian kini masih menyisakan nafasnya di berbagai tempat. Meski sebagian bisa dikatakan sudah atau nyaris hilang, masih ada yang pantas untuk disinggahi sebagai monumen perjuangan saat meretas jalan hingga menuai waktu. Istilah ini menyiratkan sebuah perjalanan panjang sang roda besi di Semarang , yang telah berumur 140 tahun, dalam menapaki terjalnya lintasan bagaikan kisah yang tiada akhir. Hanya sang waktu yang dapat membuktikan sosok roda besi ini menapakkan langkahnya diantara berbagai harapan yang tak pernah usai.