13 November 2010

Thai Interlude: Hualamphong Station Bangkok

These pictures were taken at Hualamphong Station, Bangkok, during a brief visit on 16 October 2010.

The portrait of King Chulalongkorn (1853 - 1910) the modernizer of Thailand dominates the main hall. In 1891 the King issued a Royal Proclamation for the construction of the first railway line in Thailand between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima.

Two General Electric CM22-7i diesel electric locomotives

I wished I had the time to ride one of the State Railway of Thailand's (SRT) trains. I especially would have liked to travel to Kanchanaburi and see the infamous Thai-Burma Death Railway.

Commemorating 143 years of railways in Indonesia

On 29 October 2010 a special train was run from Semarang Tawang Station to Tanggung Station. This 25 kilometer trip along Indonesia's first railway line commemorates the 143th anniversary of railways in Indonesia.

Departure from Tawang Station, Semarang. at 07:00 AM

Arrival at Tanggung Station, 1 hour 30 minutes later

The special train was made up of two coaches (converted GW cement trucks) and a YR truck, hauled by a Krupp D301 diesel engine disguised as NIS 01. NIS, of course, stands for Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NISM), the first railway company in Indonesia that had build the Semarang-Tanggung line.

For this trip guests were asked to dress in 'period' costumes.

This train will later serve as a tourist train running along the scenic Ambarawa-Tuntang line.

30 June 2010

June 29, 2010
Amir Tejo & Putri Prameshwari

Police and residents look at a derailed train in Madiun, Indonesia's east Java province June 29, 2010. Six people were killed and 73 were injured. (Reuters Photo/Stringer)

Six Dead and 73 Injured After Train Derails in East Java

Six people were killed and dozens injured when a train derailed and rolled down an embankment near Madiun, East Java, on Tuesday. The Logawa train was traveling from Purwokerto in Central Java to Jember in East Java when it derailed. Three of its cars went off the track and rolled down the embankment. The Ministry of Transportation has dispatched a team to Madiun to investigate.

Tundjung Inderawan, director general of railway transportation at the ministry, said the team would try to determine the cause of the accident, the deadliest train incident since a 2008 crash in Lampung that killed nine people. “The ministry’s director of railway safety and his team have arrived on the scene, and we are monitoring developments,” Tundjung said. He added that a team from the National Transportation Safety Committee would conduct a separate investigation. Officials identified four of the victims as Rahmat Bayu Rianto, 15; Hariadi M Noor Khoiri, 38; Kuatno, 29; and Sholeh, 58.

Police are still attempting to determine the identities of the remaining two victims. Madiun Police Chief Umar Effendi said the 73 injured passengers had been taken to Panti Waluyo Hospital in Madiun. Umar said the police and state railway operator PT Kereta Api were still unable to determine the cause of the accident. “We are still focusing on the evacuation process,” he said. Tundjung said that cars 9 to 11 derailed when the train was on an elevated section of track in the Saradan Wilangan area. “They fell around 10 meters down,” he said, adding that the position of the fallen cars had made it difficult to reach the passengers. Tundjung said a train had departed from Solo to help with the evacuation, and that a crane would also soon arrive to lift the derailed cars. “The other cars have been pulled to the nearest station,” he said.

Heri Winarno, a spokesman for the Kereta Api office overseeing the Surabaya region, said the accident disrupted several services on the southern line. “We have diverted trains from Surabaya and Malang that run on the southern line to the northern line,” he said. The diverted trains included the Sancaka bound for Yogyakarta, the Jakarta-bound Bima and Gajayana, and the Bandung-bound Turangga and Malabar. Heri said passengers should expect continued delays because trips on the northern line took longer. A bottleneck of passengers is inevitable, he said, because it is the school holiday season and most trains are fully booked.

The rail system is notorious for its poor safety record. Old tracks and cars are often not maintained properly, resulting in frequent derailments and crashes. According to information from the Ministry of Transportation, the number of people killed in accidents involving trains rose from 45 in 2008 to 57 in 2009. Tundjung said that despite the age of the tracks and cars, human error remained the main cause of train accidents.

27 April 2010

Passengers bid farewell to legendary train

Published in The Jakarta Post (http://www.thejakartapost.com) The Jakarta Post Tue, 04/27/2010 4:01 PM

Indah Setiawati

Long-time users of the Parahyangan train, which has for almost 40 years ploughed the Jakarta to Bandung route, spared time Monday to watch the train embark on its last journey before its discontinuation.

One passenger came with his family from as far as Batam to enjoy the spectacle, while others drove all the way from Tangerang, Banten; all with the same intention of becoming “part of the history” as the last passengers on the train, the operation of which was terminated due to financial losses.

“I was so shocked to learn that the Parahyangan would not operate anymore,” Sita Hutabarat, one of the passengers, told The Jakarta Post, adding that recently she had begun taking her car to Bandung, West Java, via the Cipularang turn pike.

Sita drove all the way from her house in Tangerang, Banten, to Gambir station in Central Jakarta to take the Parahyangan with her friend, Mira Idris, who lives in Rangkasbitung.

They came at 8:30 a.m., very close to the departure time of the train, which in the end departed 15 minutes late.

“Had we been late, we would have taken the next train. We are so determined to take this train because today will be its last day,” she said.

Holiday maker Romi Arno from Batam, Riau province, said he had brought his family to ride the Parahyangan because he wanted his children, who had never ridden on a train before, to become part of history.

State railway company PT KAI decided to cancel the train’s operation because it was suffering financial losses due to a sharp decline in passenger numbers.

The train, which began operating in 1971, carried 76 executive class passengers and 204 business class passengers every day on average.

The company reduced the train’s fares to woo more passengers but to no avail.

A one-way business class ticket cost Rp 30,000 (US$3.3), and an executive class ticket Rp 50,000.

PT KAI operated two executive trains, the Parahyangan and the Argo Gede, both serving the same route.

Together they ran six departures from Bandung and six from Jakarta per day with an average occupancy rate of between 50 and 60 percent.

Starting Tuesday, the company will operate only the Argo Gede.

PK KAI’s vice president of passenger transportation Husein Nurrony said the company was forced to take the decision after an evaluation showed it had suffered losses of Rp 36 billion last year.

He blamed the losses on the Cikampek-Purwakarta-Padalarang (Cipularang) turn pike, which has shortened the trip from Jakarta to Bandung from five hours to 2.5 hours.

The 41-kilometer-long turn pike, which cost the state Rp 1.6 trillion, opened only a few days before the Asia Africa Conference Golden Jubilee kicked off in Bandung in April 2005.

Transportation expert F. Trisbiantara said PT KAI’s financial strategy had been compromised by the turn pike. He said experts had warned the government that the turn pike would threaten the rail link.

He said the toll’s smooth traffic would not last long. “It will soon become congested,” he told the Post.

He said developing the nation’s rail network would benefit travelers in the long run because rail’s passenger capacity was “unlimited” as a train could have many extra coaches attached to it on busy days.

“The government should realize that in a large country with an abundance of people like Indonesia, the most appropriate transportation to develop is rail,” Trisbiantara said.

— JP

Copyright © 2010 The Jakarta Post - PT Bina Media Tenggara. All Rights Reserved.

7 April 2010

An afternoon at Purwosari Station, Solo

These pictures were taken at Purwosari station on the afternoon of 16 March 2010, while waiting for the Semarang bound Joglosemar train from Yogyakarta.

6 April 2010

Uncertain future for C1218 in Solo

For more than two decades C1218 (constructed by Hartmann in 1896) was stored in the back of the shed in Cepu, forgotten and neglected but more or less intact. In 2002 a group of foreign railway enthusiasts led by Rob Dickinson, a frequent visitor to Indonesia and an authority on Indonesia’s railway heritage, were able to collect enough money to move C1218 to Ambarawa. The idea was that it would be restored there, but things did not move as fast as expected, and C1218 sat rusting outside the shed at Ambarawa for about three years. Suddenly, however, in 2005 PTKA (the Indonesian Railway Company) decided that it could spend money to restore C1218 and within a few months Pudjiono and his staff at the Ambarawa Locomotive Depot were able to make C1218 run again.

C1218 in Ambarawa

The intention was to use the restored C1218 on the flat AmbarawaTuntang line. But the line was not ready yet for C1218 as it still needed major improvements. As a result C1218 did not see much service after being restored. Except for an occasional run to Jambu it was mostly idle at the Ambarawa shed.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Solo came up with the idea to have a steam train run on the track alongside Slamet Riyadi Street, Solo’s main thoroughfare, to attract tourists. At that time only one train, the once daily, one-coach Solo - Wonogiri feeder train hauled by an ancient BB300 series Krupp diesel engine, used the track.

In April 2009 the Mayor together with a busload of city officials came to Ambarawa to pick an engine for the tourist train. Initially, the Mayor wanted the mammoth CC5029 Mallet engine. This, of course, was out of the question. Besides being unsuitable for an urban line (CC5029 used to serve the mountainous Priangan region), CC5029 was in such a bad condition that it would be much too expensive to restore it. Finally, it was agreed that C1218 would be leased to the City of Solo. It was also agreed that in September of that year C1218 and its rack of two wooden coaches (also from Ambarawa) would operate as a tourist train in Solo.

At that time the Indonesian Railway Preservation Society (IRPS) had already pointed out to the City of Solo as well as PTKA that there was not yet any proper facility in Solo for maintaining C1218. No one, however, paid much attention, so on 27 September 2009 amid much fanfare the steam tourist train, named ‘Sepur Kluthuk Jaladara’ was launched. In mid March, however, there were reports that all was not well with C1218. IRPS, therefore, decided to send a small team (Aditya Dwi Laksana, Asep Suherman and myself) to Solo to find out what the problem was.

When we left Semarang Poncol Station on 16 March 2010 only Setyo Prakoso, an IRPS member living in Solo, knew about our schedule for that day. However, just after we passed Gundih on board the Pandanwangi train, Aditya got a call from Sutrisno, Head of Operations of PTKA's Region 6. How he knew about our itinerary is a mystery. In any case, when we arrived at Solo Balapan desides Setyo, Sutrismo was also there to meet us. Without wasting any time we were immediately rushed to Solo Balapan depot.

Gundih station

At the depot we were greeted by the depot chief Joemarno and some of his staff. They showed us Jaladara’s two wooden coaches (whose paint, we had been told earlier, had been peeling off due to being constantly exposed to rain and sun) which had just been given new coats of paint. Sutrisno also showed us all the repairs and maintenance work done to C1218 since its arrival in Solo from Ambarawa in September 2009. Basically, they were trying to convince us that Jaladara was not being neglected and was ready to operate any time. Nonetheless, they admitted that they had to work harder because C1218 and its rack were still stabled in the open, without any protective shelter.

C1218 in Solo Balapan

Sutrisno showing the maintenance work done to C1218

Regarding the absence of the protective roof for the railway Jaladara we were told that the original plan to place it in the depot at Purwosari could not be carried out because Purwosari depot is already full. Furthermore, the security there was poor because the depot is not a restricted area. So they thought that it is better that Jalasara remain at Solo Balapan depot, at least for the time being, despite the lack of any protective roof.

Purwosari depot

The fact is there has been a plan to construct a protective roof for Jaladara. But the City of Solo and PTKA have not agreed on who should bear the costs. We also found out that the lease payment mechanism from the City of Solo to PTKA is unclear. Rather strange, we thought, because normally such an important issue would have been settled right from the very beginning. This also means that that there is actually no money specifically set aside for maintaining C1218.

Meanwhile, the people of Solo, who used to be very enthusiastic about Jaladara, have been complaining about the high price they have to pay to ride on the train. Residents have to pay IDR 30,000 per person per trip, while non-Solonese have to pay IDR 200,000 per person per trip. Chartering the whole train would cost IDR 15,000,000. By Indonesian standards those are indeed steep figures.

23 February 2010

Dutch Rail misleads Schiphol tourists

For those who are planning to travel to the Netherlands please take notice (Actually, I never thought that such a thing could happen there. It is something one would only expect in a less developed country):

Monday 22 February 2010

Dutch Rail (NS) is misleading thousands of tourists traveling from Schiphol airport to Amsterdam by offering them more expensive first class tickets as a priority, the Haarlems Dagblad reports on Monday.

The paper says ticket machines at the airport offer 'comfort class' tickets on their welcome screens, but that these tickets cost €6.50, compared with €3.80 for a standard ticket. Passengers who want a second class ticket have to click through to a different window.

An NS spokesman told the paper most tourists want a first class ticket because they are travelling with lots of baggage and want more room.

Some 5,000 tourists a day travel from the airport to central Amsterdam.

© DutchNews.nl (http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/02/dutch_rail_misleads_schiphol_t.php)