Our second day in Solo will be a special one, as we have chartered a steam train to run between Solo Purwosari to Solo Kota station, traveling through the last street running mainline left in Indonesia. We have actually settle the payment when we were in Pemalang, so by the time we arrived in Solo, it was all been prepared for us.
After checking out from hotel, we winding through the main road of Solo where we were greeted by our train shunted on the street side track!
Geoff, Paul, and Hayden wasted no time and jumped out of the car and chased after the train, while I quickly drove my car to the Purwosari station’s parking lot. After I arrived at Purwosari station, I parked my car at one shady corner and went to the station entrance.
There was an incident when I tried to enter the platform. Since the train that I took is not a regular passenger train, obviously there will be no official ticket issued for this. And I only carry the receipt as a proof that I have the right to enter the platform area and board the train. When I tried to pass the ticket checkpoint, the security officer prevented me from entering the platform as I have no ticket. And when I mentioned that my train is not a regular train, but instead the steam train that is being shunted in the station, he still doesn’t believe me and insisted that I must change the receipt into a valid ticket! The Railway employee, who sat next to him, just did nothing to clear up the situation and only imitating what the stupid security officer said.
As my anger grew to boiling point, the Railway employee eventually relented and let me enter the platform. When I entered the platform, I asked the same railway employee on why he hindered my entrance, while my Caucasian friends were allowed to enter easily. He said that he don’t understand English, and doesn’t have enough bravery to confront them. RACIST COWARD!!!
When I entered the platform, I was greeted by the sight of Hartmann-built C12 locomotive hauling two coaches. Note Geoff can be seen running in the background.
This centenarian is ready to bring us for a joyride today.
The last time I visited this station in 2007, this new platform shed wasn’t in place. And the platform was much more crowded as waiting passengers are allowed to enter the platform.
Moments later, the train is reversed into the platform nearer to the station in preparation for its departure.
One unique feature of the current Purwosari station is a railway line that cut through one platform. This feature didn’t exist on the original Purwosari station.
Back in the old days, when the Purwosari didn’t have second roof, only two lines had platform.
It’s just a right thing that this smoking centenarian is stopped right on the “Smoking Area” spot
While we waited for our departure, the engineers busy filling up its water tank. The process also drew attention from regular train passengers who marveled a rare sight of steam locomotive traveling on mainline.
I finally able to see Holcim cement train hauled by a CC206 (no.25). Although unfortunately the photo suffer from backlight problem.
Once the water tanks are topped up, the C12 is ready to go.
Just before the journey started, one of traffic police introduced himself to me. He said that he will act as a guide for this journey. He will show us best places for photography as well as arranging coordination with local traffic polices.
Although we have booked a trip with the train, we didn’t join its initial departure and decided to take the picture of it as it passes through the branchline junction.
We briefly board the train for a few hundred meters, before the guide told us that there will be another good spot ahead. So we disembark to capture the image of the train as it passes through local a level crossing in a kampong.
Even the locals are impressed by the sight of the steam train.
The next spot will be the place where the track merges with the main road into a street running section.
The sight of steam loco appearing in the middle of the town truly amazes everyone.
The train make a brief stop in front of the old Manahan stadium, where we capture some photos and reboard the train.
It is a unique experience to be able to ride on such antique vehicle in the middle of modern city.
The traffic polices are also having a field day in escorting our train. We felt like being an important government official!
Other drivers were also impressed by the sight of our antique train passing through.
We make a stop in front of Sriwedari park, where we took several pictures of our train.
I remember when I was a kid, my mother used to take me to this park when we visited my late uncle who lived in Solo back then.
Not long, our train makes “departure” sequence.
After several hundred meters of journey, we stopped in front of Radya Pustaka museum, which is said to be the oldest museum in Solo.
It’s a great classical sight!
Radya Pustaka has several collections of artifacts related to the history of town of Solo and its Sultanates.
The spot in front of Radya Pustaka museum is quite a scenic place to take picture, and would have been a perfect one had we done it on Sunday where the road is closed for general traffic.
We also stopped in front of Loji Gandrung, the official residence of Mayor of Surakarta/Solo.
This building has become popular since its former mayor, Joko Widodo become an elected Indonesian president.
Geoff commenting that it is amazing that the person who proposed the steam train tour that we hired has since become president of Indonesia!
Next trainspotting is near the Colonel Slamet Riyadi’s statue. The main street which feature street running is named after this young Colonel who led guerilla war against the Dutch in late 1940s. We try to make some nice picture in here, but fail to do so as the traffic was very crowded.
So we can only photograph the train as it zipped pass through the entrance gate to the Royal compound.
We also stopped by in front of Fort Vastenburg, where we photographed our train passing through ornate shopping center entrance.
Once we finished this session, we are ready to move to the next spot.
We returned back to the train where we went to the final spot which is none other than in Solo Kota station platform!
The train finally made its way to Solo Kota station! Yes, the train not us because we have reached the station before the train arrived. Hahahaha.
After parking its carriages on the platform, the locomotive was detached and head to the water replenishment pump.
Once its water supply refilled, it then reattached to the other end of the train. After everything cleared, we made an uneventful return trip back to Solo Purwosari station.
When the train arrived back at Solo Purwosari station, Geoff, Paul, and Hayden made several photography of the trains.
While I decided to have a sit and buy some snack in the station.
I sit on one of the classical chair in the station, and enjoying the sight of the centenarian C12 loco moving around the station.
After they finished photographing the loco, we returned back to our car where we went to Madiun. The journey to Madiun is quite a tough one as we had to drive under blazing heat as well as having had to dodge many trucks.
But somehow, we made it to Madiun….just!
The first place that we visited is Sudhono sugar mill, which is next to the Ngawi-Madiun main highway. Entering the place is not difficult. The security didn’t bother to ask us, and just let us park the car in the shade near the security post. They even allowed us to visit the locomotive shed, without too much bureaucracy hindrance.
Right in front of the shed is Sudhono no.3 which seemed to be in ready to work condition.
The shunting work in the yard is done by the diesel number 1.
We went inside the shed, where we found several locomotives. Some seemed to be in working condition, although they haven’t seem to done any duties for years as they already gathered dust.
Only the number 3 is occasionally lit for tourist excursion around the mill compound, as their field lines have been closed down.
From Sudhono, we continue our journey south where we came across a level crossing near a sugar mill. This is Purwodadi sugar mill, which still operate its steam locomotives on regular basis.
Geoff directed me to a good spot to park my car. I didn’t know whether if this track is still in use or not.
As we parked our car at one corner the yard, we were greeted by the sound of jetplanes flying overhead. It turned out to be the sound of two F-16 fighter planes flying overhead. Apparently this sugar mill is located very near to a major military airbase.
Once the F-16 disappears, we went to the receiving yard where we found the number 15 doing a shunting work.
Not long afterward, the number 16 arrived from the mill direction.
That loco will be used to assist the number 15 shunting the loaded wagons.
The number 15 starting its job hauling the loaded wagons into the mill.
Note that some of the engineer using stick to pour sand to help the loco’s adhesion.
The level crossing gate is closed to give way to the train.
Number 16 following behind to assist the number 15.
It will then push the train into the mill.
We tried to take the picture of the train as it passed through the bridge. But the spot is heavily vegetated.
Moments later the number 15 reappeared and head to the receiving yard.
We went up to see that the train have fully been inserted into the mill. This bridge spot is highly popular amongst train spotters.
Not long, the number 16 also reappeared and head to the receiving yard.
A few minutes later, another train of loaded sugarcane appeared.
Just like in the previous train, the number 15 do the hauling…..
….while number 16 push the train.
And the ritual proceedings repeated.
I returned back to the receiving yard where I see some engineers pouring sand on the rail.
The number 16 is returning back again.
I’m curious about the track just outside the yard. Where does it head to?
Along the way I watched the scenic rural scenery on trackside.
Kids who attending that school must be really happy that they can see steam locos on regular basis.
I kept following the track.
Sometime I would came across this sad sight: a truck abusing the presence of railway track by running over it to pick up the harvested sugarcane.
One can only imagine the amount of trucks needed to harvest sugarcane in such amount, not to mention their contribution in adding pollution, traffic congestion, and additional burden on fuel subsidy.
I kept following the track where it end, right near a small white hut in the background. The local said that the track has been truncated since the closure of Purwodadi’s field lines in 1990s.
By this point my body began to feel the burden of having had to drive for several days. So I decided to withdraw to my car, and take a short nap.
After several minutes of nap, I was suddenly awakened by the sound of approaching diesel loco. It turned out that there is one diesel loco used for today. Now I realize that this track is pretty much in use as a loopline for shunter loco to avoid congestion in the yard.
Not long afterward, everyone returned to the car and we’re ready to withdraw to Madiun and check in into our hotel.
TO BE CONTINUE.