17 October 2009

Revolt in the colonies: Through the fate of locomotives modern history can be studied

This is an article written by Yuri Matsarsky, the editor of the regional section of the daily Russian railroad newspaper “Gudok” (http://www.gudok.ru/). It describes the connection between the Hijaz Railways and the railways of Indonesia.

(For those who do not know Russian, please use translator.)



18.09.2009 3 ноября 1920 года
«Восстание в колониях»
По судьбе паровозов можно изучать новейшую историю




Взорванные почти столетие назад паровозы и по сей день ржавеют в пустыне

Отвоевав свои земли у турок и англичан, арабы приблизили развал великих некогда империй и, сами того не ведая, способствовали развитию железных дорог на другом конце света. Осенью 1920 года «Гудок» сообщал о приближающейся победе арабов и турок над британскими колонизаторами в Месопотамии. Эти сражения были продолжением боёв Первой мировой войны, в ходе которых расклад сил был несколько иным – за свою независимость арабы воевали против турок. А британцы, как враги Османской империи, помогали им в этом. Именно британцы разработали для арабов тактику войны с турками, основой которой стали подрывы железных дорог. Авторство идеи такого способа ведения партизанской войны на Ближнем Востоке принадлежит офицеру королевских войск Томасу Эдварду Лоуренсу, прославившемуся ещё при жизни под именем Лоуренс Аравийский. Именно он объяснил лидеру Арабской освободительной армии и будущему королю Ирака Фейсалу, что укрепления турок и контролируемые ими города необходимо отрезать друг от друга, лишив возможности обмениваться солдатами и припасами. Для снабжения войск использовалась Хиджазская железная дорога, построенная турками в самом начале XX века для доставки паломников из Дамаска в священную для мусульман Медину. Но разразившаяся война превратила магистраль в военный объект. Подрывы дороги начались в 1916 году. Причём изначально подразделения Лоуренса разрушали наиболее строго охраняемые объекты – мосты и станции, для чего приходилось отбивать их у турецких войск. «Мосты и рельсы взлетали на воздух. Нас прикрывали экипажи броневиков, и порой им приходилось отбиваться, ведя огонь из-под своих машин под музыку свистевших в задымлённом воздухе осколков камней. Двадцатифунтовый кусок кремня упал на колпак орудийной башни, оставив на ней не принесшую вреда крупную вмятину. Солдаты в минуты затишья фотографировали результаты удачных попаданий. Это было роскошное сражение, принесшее роскошные разрушения», – описывал Лоуренс подробности одного из таких боёв в своей книге «Семь столпов мудрости». Чуть позже английский разведчик и его арабские товарищи освоили более эффективную тактику – подрыв поездов. Таким образом удавалось не только разрушить пути, но и вывести из строя локомотивы противника, а также захватить или уничтожить перевозимые поездами грузы. «В первый раз устанавливая мины электрического действия, мы не имели представления о том, как это нужно делать, но понимали, что эффект будет лучше, если уложить заряд поверх пролёта моста. Тогда в независимости от того, какие повреждения получит локомотив, мост рухнет, а вагоны сойдут с рельсов», – вспоминал о подготовке к первому такому подрыву Томас Лоуренс. Такого рода операции, несмотря на отсутствие у подрывников опыта, обычно увенчивались успехом. Свидетельство тому – сохранившиеся до сих пор останки локомотивов и вагонов, разбросанные по Аравийской пустыне. Разрушения, причинённые дороге, и угрозы новых подрывов вынудили турок отказаться от использования магистрали в качестве основной артерии снабжения войск. Это стало серьёзным ударом по экономике Германии – союзнице Оттоманской империи в Первой мировой войне, которая поставляла туркам свои паровозы. «Дорогу после набегов повстанцев восстанавливали, но прежнего значения она уже не имела – движение на некоторых участках полностью прекратилось. Да и на остальных поезда ходили всё реже и реже, а потому к 1920 году поставки паровозов практически сошли на нет, – сообщил «Гудку» немецкий исследователь Хиджазской магистрали Герхард Хенрих. – Известно, что последний европейский паровоз пришёл сюда в 1924 году уже после крушения Оттоманской империи и образования независимых арабских государств». Основу локомотивного парка Хиджазской дороги составляли локомотивы Hartmann серии D, спроектированные немцами специально для Ближнего Востока. И прекращение их поставок в Медину грозило фирме Hartmann, вложившей в разработку этих машин немалые средства, полным разорением. Спасли компанию Нидерланды, бывшие тогда колониальной державой. Руководство голландской колониальной железнодорожной компании Staatsspoorwegen сочло, что машины, способные работать в непростых пустынных условиях, не спасуют и перед джунглями Голландской Ост-Индии, как в те времена называлась Индонезия. «Голландцы купили у Hartmann десять уже построенных, но так и не отправленных на Ближний Восток машин, – рассказал «Гудку» член Индонезийского общества сохранения железных дорог Тжахджоно Рахарджо. – Им была присвоена аббревиатура SS (от Staatsspoorwegen) и серийные номера от 1501 до 1510. По всем параметрам машины подходили для работы в индонезийском климате. Несоответствие их было лишь в том, что строились они для работы на Хиджазской дороге, с шириной колеи 1050 мм, тогда как в Индонезии был принят стандарт 1067 мм. Но «подогнать» паровозы к нашей колее не составило никаких проблем». В строй паровозы вступили в 1920 году. Их распределили по четырём депо на разных островах Индонезийского архипелага. Работали эти машины несколько десятков лет, умудрившись, не меняя пунктов приписки, послужить сразу трём государствам. Купленные голландцами, в 1942 году они достались оккупировавшим острова японцам, а после окончания Второй мировой войны и признания Нидерландами независимости своих восточных колоний продолжили работу на железных дорогах уже свободной Индонезии. «Большинство из этих паровозов не сохранилось, они выработали свой ресурс и пошли под списание, – говорит Тжахджоно Рахарджо. – Но один из них – с номером 1506 – до сих пор находится в рабочем состоянии и катает посетителей железнодорожного музея на острове Ява. Ещё два локомотива, насколько мне известно, были возвращены на Ближний Восток и в 1997–1998 годах ещё точно работали на одном из участков Хиджазской дороги». Но путь из Дамаска в Медину проделать им уже не под силу. «Хиджазской дороги как единого целого уже не существует, – констатирует Герхард Хенрих. – Ещё в 1920-х годах прекратилось движение по тем её участкам, которые оказались на территории созданной после падения Османской империи Саудовской Аравии. Сейчас поезда ходят по ней от Дамаска до Аммана и от Маана до Акабского залива. Остальные участки магистрали давно разрушены или попросту заброшены».
Юрий Мацарский

8 October 2009

Tracking Railway History in Indonesia - The Jakarta Globe



Members of the IRPS bringing the WH202 locomotive out of its depot. (Photo courtesy of IRPS)

Growing up during the 1950s in Surabaya, Lutfhi Tjahyadi, who is 41, said he had a classic Monopoly board game with a wonderful picture of a green-and-yellow model CC200 diesel locomotive on the cover.

And as a teenager, during a rail journey from Surabaya to Jakarta, he was shocked to see the exact same train go thundering past. His heart beat faster, he said, as he craned his neck out the window to get a better look. “Emotionally, I feel like I have a tie with the train,” he said.

As an adult, Lufthi took a job in Cirebon, West Java, and discovered there were three neglected CC200s in a depot near the city’s train station.

Whenever he could, he would stop by the depot and run his hand reverently over the rusty parts and peeling paintwork of the glorious locomotives of the past. America’s General Electric Company had sold the state railway operator 27 of the hulking CC200 locomotives in 1953.

But by the end of the 20th century, 24 of the CC200 locomotives had been scrapped because they were no longer running at full power.

In 2002, a group of train buffs, initially calling itself Friends of the CC200, received approval from state railway operator PT Kereta Api to restore one of the three locomotives in Cirebon.

At that time, it changed its name to the Indonesian Railway Preservation Society. The group — which is now headquartered in Kota with branch offices in Bandung, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Surabaya and Malang — repaired the CC200 using components from other locomotives and restored the original green-and-yellow color scheme.

“Although only to a limited extent, [the CC200 locomotive] is now operable again,” said Aditya Dwi Laksana, who serves as chairman of the IRPS.

The locomotive is only used to pull broken trains short distances from the Cirebon station or to run errands, he said.

The main purpose of the society, which Lutfhi joined in 2004, is to preserve the history of the country’s trains and railroads. Railroads were introduced early into Java — the first line from Semarang through Solo to Yogyakarta opened in 1864 — and they remain for many the best way of exploring the country, as they thread their way through scenery that changes dramatically, from lowland rice fields to verdant mountains and coast.

The US-based Society of International Railway Travelers in fact offers a rail tour by chartered train through Java, which takes in steam-worked sugar cane railways, as well as the section of track between Ambarawa and Bedono in Central Java — the last surviving fragment of the early route between Semarang and Yogyakarta.

But while there is international interest in the history of Java’s railway network, many local train passengers are less than excited.

Mateta Rijalulhaq, public relations manager of PT Kereta Api, said the state railway operator had negotiated a partnership with the IRPS for the purpose of developing a better appreciation of rail history among the public.

“Their capabilities are much better than our own employees, from the knowledge and passion perspective,” Mateta said, referring to the 200 registered members of the IRPS, whose ages range from 16 to 74.

“And they’re doing this without any orientation toward profit.”

Mateta said the IRPS had helped the railway operator improve “rail culture,” which had become increasingly mired down in vandalism and other disrespectful behavior.

“People don’t buy tickets, they throw rocks at our trains, and there are many more problems on the railway,” he said.

This year the IRPS held the Indonesian Railways Roadshow, which involved setting up photo exhibitions and reading corners with a variety of literature on the railway system, and screening a number of documentaries at train stations in six cities.

Aside from the old and weathered CC200, the railway society has restored two other trains: a diesel-fueled BB200 locomotive, which was found in Semarang, and a WH202, an electric-powered train built in 1925.

Aditya said, “It’s a shame historical trains like these are no longer operable.”

“These locomotives have greater value than just old chunks of iron,” Lufthi said. “They should be preserved for the next generations, so that they can do more than just imagine — so that they can actually see, observe and touch.”

Nur Rahman, 26, fell in love with trains when he lived in a house by tracks and he jumped at the chance to join the IRPS.

“I was looking for a community that might cater to my passion for trains,” he said.

He said belonging to the IRPS had enhanced his knowledge of trains.

“Before, I only studied general things, like how a train starts moving, travels and things like that,” said Nur, who works in a pension fund financial institution.

“But now I learn about the different types of trains — their sizes, their fuel and their assets.”

He said that the IRPS has also given him the opportunity to contribute to the preservation of rail history in a more concrete way.

“I really can’t express my feelings in words,” he said. “[But] it gives me deep satisfaction.”

Preserving Indonesia's Railroad Heritage is a Labor of Love - The Jakarta Globe






There are various aspects to the work carried out by the Indonesian Railway Preservation Society, but one of the most important is preserving state railway system infrastructure, such as train stations, bridges, tunnels and workshops, as well as trains and spare parts.

“We tour sites such as former train stations that have been converted into markets, workshops and storage facilities,” said Aditya Dwi Laksana, the chairman of the IRPS. “Then we identify and document things that are considered worthy of saving as heritage assets.”

In January, after months of map research and site interviews and retrieving archives from the Netherlands, the IRPS was able to locate Stasiun Samarang NIS, the first train station in Indonesia, which was established by the Dutch in 1867 in Semarang, Central Java.

Other assets that fall under the IRPS radar include equipment such as dated ticketing and station telegraph machines, historical archives and documentation, including train station blueprints, railway maps and records showing old railway lines that are no longer in use.

But preservation efforts also require less tangible assets, Aditya said. As such the IRPS also focuses on expertise, knowledge, experience and oral history.

For example, Aditya mentioned steam locomotives. “Operating and maintaining a steam locomotive requires special expertise,” he said.

“Not everyone has that expertise. If the expertise is not passed on to the next generation then there will be no one that can operate the locomotive in the future.”

In March, IRPS gave a public presentation at Soegijapranata Catholic University.

“We invited historians, archeologists, anthropologists and architects to talk about our latest discovery of the first train station in Indonesia,” Aditya said.

The last aspect of IRPS’s work is what he called “railfanning,” which refers to the activities of rail fans, or ardent train buffs.

“[Activities] range from taking a group ride on a train, to visiting railway facilities such as workshops and factories,” he said.

In the past, IRPS has chartered locomotives several times, including in Cepu and Ambarawa, and invited its members and the general public to come along for the ride.

“We stopped at some interesting spots, to look at old tunnels and bridges . . . . These railfanning activities usually function both as a fun activity, but also to educate the participants,” Aditya said.

“We want to develop a sense of love from the public regarding the railway system, in understanding its historical value and why these assets deserve to be preserved.” 

Armando Siahaan

27 September 2009

Art and railways in the Netherlands

I was recently given a pack of postcards by Homme Heringa (Bureau Spoorbouwmeester) who was a member of the Identification Mission on the Revitalisation of Indonesia’s Railway Stations, together with Ben de Vries (Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency). These are not ordinary postcards, they are postcards published by the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) showing art works in the stations, on board the trains and along the tracks of the Netherlands. These are realisations of the Dutch Railways’ ‘art policy.’ The purpose of this art policy is to:


  • make the mundane world of public transport less mundane and more interesting

  • give visual pleasure and inspiration during travel

  • create a new image of the Dutch Railways

  • integrate art, design and architecture

  • show the societal cultural responsibility of the Dutch Railways
These postcards show a few examples of the realisation of this policy.






At the moment it is perhaps too much to ask for the Indonesian Railway Company (PTKA) to show any interest in the arts. Instead of art works, Indonesian stations are now full of cigarette advertisements that have encroached on the signage and even overshadowed PTKA’s own logo.


But at least PTKA has tried to brighten up some of its stations by painting them gaudy colours.

6 September 2009

Indian Railways to connect with 27 countries from Thursday

An agreement aimed at linking railroad systems of India and 27 other countries in Asia and Europe comes into effect Thursday.

The Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway Network (TAR) enters into force June 11 - 90 days after China became the eighth country to have ratified the treaty, according to a press release issued by the UN Information Centre.

The other parties to the agreement are Cambodia, India, Mongolia, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Russia, Tajikistan and Thailand.

The TAR network comprises 114,000 kilometres of rail routes of international importance, aiming to offer efficient rail transport services for the movement of goods and passengers both within theregion and between Asia and Europe.

It will also provide improved access for landlocked countries to major ports, the Bangkok-based
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said.

The Agreement identifies stations of global importance, most of which are located inland and function like ports in coastal areas. These so-called 'dry ports' will act as consolidation and distribution centres in the hinterland, spur growth and bring the benefits of economic and social development to a wider population, according to ESCAP.

The new pact is the second to have been developed under the auspices of ESCAP, with the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network having entered into force in 2005.

The two networks are major building blocks towards the realisation of an international integrated inter-modal transport and logistics system for the region, ESCAP said.
( © IANS / India eNews)

© Copyright 2009 IndiaeNews.com. All Rights Reserved.

5 September 2009

Train crash kills one and blocks tracks for 24 hours

The Penataran's locomotive and first car jumped the tracks and overturned. (Photo: Noeldin, JG)


Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Malang

A Penataran train serving the Surabaya-Blitar-Malang route derailed Friday in Tanjungtirto subdistrict, Malang regency, East Java, killing a passenger and blocking the route for 24 hours.

The victim was identified as Sudarsono, 50, a locomotive engineer assistant on the ill-fated train that was carrying hundreds of passengers.

Sudarsono died when his body was stuck inside the narrow steering chamber and rescuers worked for two hours to retrieve his body.

Locomotive engineer D. A. Wibowo, survived the accident suffering only minor injuries and shock.

The accident also injured nine passengers who were rushed to the Saiful Anwar General Hospital in Malang for further treatment.

Witnesses said the speeding passenger train that departed from Malang Station at 13:40 hit a crossing buffalo before it derailed some eight kilometers from the station.

Before the train derailed, it directly hit and destroyed the back part of a building belonging to cigarette producer PT Bentoel Prima Investama.

The first carriage, located right behind the driver, was separated from the other carriages during the crash.

The second was derailed, but was still standing. The rest of the carriages managed to remain on the train tracks.

Survivor Mislan Sukardi, 32, of Blitar, East Java, said he was sitting in a passenger seat in the first carriage when the speeding train suddenly put on the breaks.

"In a moment, the train rocked very strongly and fell off the tracks into a rice paddy next to the railroad," he said.

Head of Malang Station Sutiono said so far the buffalo was thought to have caused the accident. "So, it's not a human error. However, we will deploy a team to investigate the case. We just have to wait for the results," he said.

Five other passenger trains serving the Surabaya-Malang route and another train carrying fuel were unable to pass through the route.

The number of delayed trains could have increased if more than 24 hours were needed to remove the wreckage from the KA Penataran train.

As of Friday afternoon the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) were waiting for the arrival of a crane from Surakarta, Central Java, to help remove wreckage from the site.

The crash caused damage to the railway tracks and dozens of railway sleepers and will have to be replaced.

Officers from PT KAI that inspected the crash site said the location was steep and that consequently every train leaving Malang automatically sped up while passing through the region.

"The permitted speed limit is between 50 and 60 kilometers per hour," an officer said.

Head of the state-owned insurance company PT Jasa Raharja's Malang municipal office, Gatot Nursalim, assured the family of the fatal victim they would receive a maximum Rp 25 million in compensation.

While injured commuters will receive a maximum of Rp 50 million.

"We will pay all of them as this is a public transport service and therefore all passengers are insured," he said.

Previously, the KA Mutiara Timur train serving the Banyuwangi-Jember-Surabaya route was also derailed. Loose railway track were blamed for last month's accident that injured dozens.

Copyright © 2008 The Jakarta Post - PT Bina Media Tenggara. All Rights Reserved.


29 August 2009

Lasem: A unique station in a unique town

The first Chinese settlement in Java was most likely established in Lasem. Lasem is located on the north coast of Java, about three hours drive east of Semarang, the provincial capital of Central Java. Its current population is about 30,000. The Chinese settlers arrived in phases, the first one in the 15th century, then in 1740, 1743, 1842, and finally in 1881. These succeeding years marked important events in the history of Chinese-Indonesians.

In 1740 there was an uprising of the Chinese in Batavia against the Dutch East Indies Company. Many Chinese were killed, while those who survived escaped to Lasem. These refugees established themselves north and south of the existing Chinese settlement.



In 1743 the Chinese of Lasem revolted against the Company, in retaliation to the Batavia massacre. The Company reacted by forcing all the Chinese who where living in villages around Lasem to settle within the town, on the western bank of the Lasem River, across the earlier Chinese settlement. This was to make it easier for the Company to control the Chinese.



In the beginning of the 19th century, the Groote Postweg (the Great Post Road) was built by Governor General Herman Willem Daendels. Part of the road passed through Lasem. The road gradually replaced Lasem River as Lasem’s main transportation artery. Consequently, the Chinese settlement which formerly faced the river now became more oriented towards the road. The town grew and new settlements were established in the southeast (1842) and northwest (1881) of the existing settlements.


The Chinese in Lasem basically built their settlements following principles put down in the Kao Gong Ji, written in the time of the West Zhou Dynasty (1066 -770 BCE) and the fengshui. However, unlike towns in mainland China, Lasems’s main orientation is towards the west (not the south), and it is not a walled city. But, like in China, their courtyard houses are walled compounds, designed to accommodate two or three generations. The earlier houses have strong Chinese characteristics, but later houses also show Dutch and Indies architectural influences.

In 1881 the Samarang-Joana Stoomtram Maatschappij (SJS, Samarang-Joana Steam Tram Company) was granted a concession to build a railway line from Samarang (now spelt Semarang) to Joana (now spelt Juwana or Juana). In 1900 the line was extended from Juwana to Lasem, and a station was built on the southwestern edge of the town.

(Map: Rob Dickinson)

The original station was a very simple affair, but in 1914 a new station was built to replace it. Architecturally, this new station is rather unique amongst stations in Indonesia. Though its basic layout is typical of SJS medium sizes stations, its architectural detail shows some Chinese influences.

Unfortunately, this unique and beautiful station is in a very bad condition. Since the closure of the former SJS lines in the 1980s, no trains pass through this station. It is now abandoned and neglected. This is perhaps a reflection of the town of Lasem itself, which is now also a dying town. The road widening projects and the anti Chinese sentiment in the days of the New Order government have caused serious physical damages to the Chinese style houses. But the most critical problem it is facing today is the decline of its batik-based economy. Like the station, many of the beautiful houses are now abandoned or only occupied by the elderly as many of the younger generation have left Lasem to seek a better living elsewhere.


A steam hauled train on the roadside track on the Juwana – Rembang - Lasem line, May 1976 (photo: Rob Dickinson)

18 July 2009

The Banjar - Cijulang Tour

Construction of the Banjar-Cijulang branch line started in 1911. The first section, about 31 kilometres down to Kalipucang, was opened in December 1916. The second section to Parigi was finished in January 1921, while the short extension to Cijulang was officially opened in June 1921. The railway line was mainly built by the Netherlands Indies colonial government to open up the then isolated East Priangan (Preanger) region and to carry the surplus copra produced in that area. It is also believed that the line had a military purpose, and was part of a planned railway route along Java’s southern coast, from Bayah in the west to Banyuwangi in the east.

One of the reasons it took such a long time to build this relatively short line was because many bridges and viaducts had to be built and many tunnels had to be dug. Along the 83 kilometres line there are at least four tunnels and three long viaducts. Hundreds of workers died of malaria and other diseases building the line. The situation became so bad that the Staatsspoorwegen (SS) , the State Railway Company, in its 1916 report stated that no workers were willing to work on the project.

Part of the line skirts the deep blue Indian Ocean. Many people believe that the Indian Ocean is the abode of the mythical Queen of the South Sea. The combination of gorges, ravines, jungle and ocean makes it one of the most scenic railway lines in Indonesia.

On 4 and 5 July 2009 a group from the Indonesian Railway Preservation Society (IRPS) made a trip along the disused line. The group visited three of the four tunnels and two of the longest viaducts. Unfortunately, since the whole line had been closed for more than two decades, the tour had to be made by bus and (naturally) on foot.

The trip started early in the morning of 4 July with short tour of Banjar Station and its former engine shed. This station dates from 1894 but renovated in 1949 after sustaining heavy damage in the war of independence. This busy former junction is on the Bandung- Yogyakarta mainline. The shed is more or less abandoned, but the turntable is still workable.

The next stop was Banjarsari Station. This station was built in 1911, at about the same time the Banjar-Kalipucang line was built. In 1986 the closure of the Banjar-Pangandaran line also meant that this station, together with the other stations and halts along the line, became redundant. Earlier, in 1984, the Pangandaran-Cijulang line had already been closed. The reasons given were the poor condition of the bridges and viaducts and the large number of non-paying passengers. This, of course, is a reflection of the bad management of the railways. In 1995 there were plans to reopen the line, and the tracks up to Banjarsari had actually been rehabilitated, but the economic crisis in 1997 stopped the project on its track.

The group did not spend much time at Banjarsari, because except for the station building ( now used as a house), nothing much of the railway remains. We continued our journey to the Hendrik tunnel. This 128 meter tunnel is now part of a local road connecting villages in the area. It is named after Prince Hendrik, husband of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (r.1890-1948). We walked into the tunnel, and came out on the other side. After a short walk further down the road, we saw a magnificent sight, the Cikacepit viaduct. Even though a closer look showed that many parts have been vandalized, it was still impressive, with its nearly 300 meters span and high trestles spanning the deep ravine below it.




It is interesting that in the book published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Staatsspoor- en Tramwegen (State Rail- and Tramway Company) in 1925 there is no mention of Cikacepit. However, it shows a drawing of it, with the explanation that it is the “bridge over the Tji Pembokongan ravine on the Bandjar-Parigi line”. Strangely, the name Tji Pembokongan (Cipembokongan) is totally unknown today.


After a fifteen minute trip along the main road, the bus stopped at the edge of another ravine. We were going to see two more tunnels, about 400 meters straight below the road, only accessible by a narrow trail. It started to drizzle and the narrow path had become slippery, so some people decided not to go down. At the bottom of the path on our left we were met by the northern opening of the Wilhelmina Tunnel, known locally as Sumber Tunnel. At the other end of the tunnel Sumber Station used to stand, but nothing remains of it. Having a length of 1208 meters, Wilhelmina Tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in Indonesia. It is, appropriately, named after the reigning queen of the Netherlands at the time of its completion in 1916. We were not allowed to enter, however; besides being full of snakes, lizards and insects, it was feared that there was poisonous gas inside the tunnel.



We then turned to the right. After about 300 meters we entered the Juliana Tunnel, known as Terowongan Bengkok (Curved Tunnel) by the local people. As its names suggests, this 147 meter tunnel is curved. It is named after Princess Juliana, who became Queen of the Netherlands in 1948 when her mother Queen Wilhelmina abdicated. Here, we were allowed to enter and see the viaduct on the other side of the tunnel. This unnamed viaduct directly leads to the Cikacepit viaduct.



After struggling along the slippery trail back up to the road where our bus was parked, we continued our journey to Ciputrapinggan. But first, we had lunch at a Sundanese style restaurant. Our simple but delicious menu consisted of roasted chicken, three kinds of sambal , steaming white rice and lots of fresh, raw vegetables. This lunch was much needed, because after that we had to go up another a hill, which was just a few meters behind the restaurant. The going up was quite steep, but fortunately not too high. And the view of the Ciputrapinggan viaduct once we got to the top of the hill was simply breathtaking.





We decided that we had to go down and have a closer look at the viaduct, and also go to the beach which looked so inviting.


We started the second day rather early by watching the sun rise at the beach just in front of our hotel at Batukaras Cove, followed by a swim in the sea before breakfast. The evening before, we had a hearty dinner of different kinds of fish at a beach side restaurant. Batukaras reminded me of Bali in the 1970s. It is still relatively quite, with only three small hotels, mainly catering to surfers. Our hotel was very basic, with no air-conditioning and no television (who needs it, anyway, in such a place), but clean and very comfortable.


After a leisurely breakfast, we prepared ourselves for the second day tour. The second day was not as dedicated to railways as the first day. The only railway related sites were the two stations, Cijulang Station (the end of the line) and Pangandaran Station. Cijulang Station is still the original 1921 structure, while Pangandaran Station is a newer one dating from 1948. Earlier, we took a boat cruise along Cukang Taneuh, or ‘Green Canyon’, a river gorge surrounded by luxurious vegetation and strange rock formations. And at the end of the day before returning to Banjar, we made a short stop at the popular Pangandaran Beach.




16 June 2009

JakartaKota Station (formerly Batavia Benedenstad) a.k.a Beos

The JakartaKota/Batavia Benedenstad station was officially opened on 8 October 1929. This twelve platform station, at that time hailed as the 'the largest and most beautiful station in Netherlands India', was designed by Asselberghs, Ghijsels, and Hes of the Algemeen Ingenieurs-en Architectenbureau (AIA). It replaced an older station of the Bataviasche Oosterspoorweg Maatschappij (BO.S), which is why even today it is still affectionatelly called 'Beos' (bay-yoss) by Jakartans.