11 February 2009

BB 30024 keeps flooded tracks open

It started only as a drizzle on Saturday (7 February 2009) evening, but later in the night it turned into a raging rainstorm. By Sunday morning the city was paralysed as floodwater inundated many parts of the city. The water level in some parts reached 150 centimetres. The airport was closed for all flights and the main roads into Semarang were under 50 centimetres of water.

One of the worst hit areas was Tawang Station, Semarang’s main railway station. The tracks were inaccessible, forcing the total closure of the entire northern coast railway line. Trains between Jakarta – Surabaya v.v. had to take the longer southern route - through Solo – muddling up the timetable. By 19.00 on Sunday, however, the line was reopened. This was possible thanks to a plucky little veteran, BB 30024. This shunter plied back and forth between Poncol Station, passing through Tawang Station, and Alastuwa Station in the eastern edge of Semarang, pulling all kinds of passenger and goods trains. At both Poncol and Alastuwa the regular diesel-electric engines were waiting for BB 30024 to bring their trains, which they would take to their respective destinations. Because of the low position of their traction motors (only 10 centimeters above the track head), it was impossible for the diesel-electrics to pass the flooded tracks without risking short circuiting their electric motors.

BB 30024 nicknamed “Yuyu Kangkang” by the railway staff because of its high motor position. Yuyu Kangkang is the name of a giant crab in Javanese mythology.

This Krupp engine came into service in 1959, one of the Indonesian Railway Company’s first diesel-hydraulic locomotives. In total there were thirty engines of this series in the service of the Indonesian Railway Company. In its prime this engine could travel at a maximum speed of 75 kilometres per hour, but this time, travelling along flooded tracks pulling heavy trains, it could barely reach 20 kilometres per hour. But for two days, Sunday and Monday, it unfailingly carried out its duty.

Three CC 203 engines and a container train waiting at Alastuwa Station under a grey sky.

Departure of a passenger train

Alastuwa Station was unusually busy on Monday. This small station, which most trains usually just passed, was the scene of much shunting, arrivals and departures, and couplings and de-couplings. Stationmaster Ruslan and his staff had been on full duty since Saturday night and were expecting not to be able to go home till Tuesday morning. Yet, he was still as hospitable as ever, making us each a glass of hot kopi tubruk.

Stationmaster Ruslan (left, in uniform) and staff


Anonymous said...

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Tjahjono Rahardjo said...

Anonymous: Thank you for kind and encouraging comment.