15 February 2009

Samarang NIS: traces of Indonesia's first railway station found

There is no dispute that the first railway line in Indonesia was built between Semarang and Tanggung by the Nederlandsch_Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NIS). However, the exact location of Semarang’s first station is still subject to controversy. The official view of PTKA (Indonesian Railway Company) is that the first station was located in Kemi(d)jen, and was even called Kemidjen Station.

Kemidjen Station in the railway company’s official history book.

Other sources, such as Rietsma (1925), Liem (1933), Oegema (1982), van Ballegooien de Jong, (1993) de Bruin (2003), however, make no references of Kemi(d)jen. They all say that the first railway line was between Semarang (Samarang) and Tanggung (Tangoeng). Liem adds that the first NIS station was located near the port, in an area called Tambaksari.

The use of the spelling Samarang was common till the 1880s. Thus, it is very likely that the first station in Semarang would also be called Samarang Station.

The 1866 map of Semarang shows that there was only one station complex and railway network, that of the NIS. It was located in the area that later would be called Tambaksari. The main station building is located at the end of Spoorlaan, now called Jalan Ronggowarsito.

In 1914 a new NIS station was opened. Later this station would be named Samarang Tawang NIS, to distinguish it from the Samarang NIS. The construction of this new station was in response to the increasing activities of the NIS. To connect Tawang Station with the NIS mainline, however, part of Samarang NIS Station had to be pulled down. Nevertheless, the other buildings at Samarang NIS Station were still intact, including the locomotive shed, works and goods station. Its name was changed to Samarang Goederenstation. Later, this would become Stasiun Semarang Gudang.

Later, however, the area has increasingly been subject to flooding. Semarang Gudang was abandoned and the former Samarang NIS building was gradually forgotten. Most people believed that it had completely disappeared; anything left of it would be underwater.

A team from the Indonesian Railway Preservation Societ Semarang seeked to find out where the former Samarang NIS Station is situated today. The search was initially conducted by studying available references. Amongst the most important sources are:

· Publication on Indonesian railways (de Bruin, 2003., de Jong, 1993., Durrant, 1972. Oegema, 1982. TBN, 1997)
· Maps in the collection of the Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen (KIT, 2009)
· Photographs in the collection of the Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (KITLV, 2009)
· Satellite images, Google Earth Pro 4.2 application programme (Google, 2009)

In January 2009, with the help of a GPS device our team set out to find the station’s location. We did not expect to find anything significant, but when we finally found the position in the middle of a dense slum, we saw there some object that looked familiar to use. We hurriedly consulted the old picture we had, and to our great surprise they were exactly like those shown in the picture.

It seems that we have found the traces of Indonesia’s first railway station.

And what about Kemi(d)jen? In 1938 the name Kemidjen first appeared on a map of Semarang, at the area formerly known as Tawangmintreng. This area was about midway in Spoorlaan, south of Samarang NIS Station. Later a halt was built here on the Semarang Joana Stoomtram (SJS) Semarang – Demak line. It is highly likely that this halt was the one that came to be called Kemidjen, but on a 1935 map there is still no building shown, therefore the station/ halt was most probably built between 1935 and1938. In any case, it could not possibly be the first station in Indonesia.

IRPS Semarang has prepared a report of this finding (in Indonesian and in English). This report will be presented in a seminar planned to be jointly organised with PTKA.


yanti-tvb semarang said...

salut dari saya untuk pak tjahjono & rekan2 IRPS, atas penelusuran & penemuan nya yang mampu menemukan stasiun SAMARANG NIS, mengubah sejarah !

Anonymous said...

salut atas penelusuran & penemuannya yang mengubah sejarah !
( yanti - "jadul" TVB Semarang )

Anonymous said...

salut atas penelusuran & penemuannya yang mengubah sejarah !
( yanti - "jadul" TVB Semarang )

Tjahjono Rahardjo said...

Atas nama Pak baskoro, Mas Deddy dan saya sendiri, kami mengucapkan terimakasih. BTW kapan disiarkan?