Monday, 17 May 2010

Modern Railways in Indonesia (2)

The level crossing leading to the airport at Maguwo Station

Although it was very late at night when I arrived at Yogyakarta, I noticed that, as we left the airport by car, we passed over a multi-track level crossing and what appeared to be a modern railway station. Perhaps that's what encouraged me to make a visit to Yogyakarta main railway station on the 12th March 2010, described in Modern Railways in Indonesia. The next day, I left Yogyakarta to fly to Bali from the same airport and, since we had allowed plenty of time for the transfer from my hotel to the airport, I asked if I there was time to visit the airport railway station. It was agreed we should make the minor detour.

The station was called Maguwo and situated on the route to the east of Yogyakarta. The line runs more-or-less east-west at this point. To the east of Maguwo lies Brambanan (coded Bbn), to the west Lempuyangan (coded Lpn). To the west of Lempuyangan is the station at Yogyakarta I'd visited the day before. Once again, the 3 foot 6 inch gauge track was in good condition - high-poundage flat-bottom rail with modern rail fastenings, concrete sleepers and adequate ballasting.

In contrast to the main station at Yogyakarta which had colour-light signalling, signalling at Maguwo was semaphore using 'German' or 'Dutch' style equipment. In the U.K., of course, we adopt 'left-hand running' with semaphore signals normally mounted on the left (yes, I know railways didn't always put signals on the left). Signal arms always extend to the left of the post, looking at the front. On the Continent, with 'right-hand running', it's logical to mount signal posts on the right hand side, with the signal arm extending to the right. Logical, maybe, but after years of 'reading' British semaphores, I always have trouble when looking at foreign semaphores and it takes an effort of will to convince myself that an arm sticking out to the right is the front of the signal, rather than the back of a signal for the opposite direction).

Conveniently, the signal box was on the platform so I could readily see the 'turnover' mechanical signalling frame with double-wire control of points and signals. The signalman happily let me into the box to take a series of photographs. It was no flattery to tell him I couldn't remember seeing a cleaner installation - everything gleamed.

The line is double-track with right-hand running but loops are provided through the station giving two through lines and two platform loops. The loop on the north side can be used in both directions. The level crossing is situated just at the start of the four-track section to the east of the station and is provided with a gatekeeper's hut. The signal box diagram should clarify the arrangements:-

Click on the image for a larger view

The station buildings and platforms were new and very clean. The main facilities (including the signal box) were on the north side whilst the south side had only simple waiting facilities and a foot crossing for passengers to cross to the north side. Having recorded the signal box, I dashed around the station taking more pictures. By this time, a train was expected from Brambanan direction so we stayed to watch.

The lemon-yellow DMU came slowly into the platform, stopping with a few coaches overhanging the short platform. The driver was happy for me to photograph him and the driving cab. After pausing for a couple of minutes, the DMU departed with a roar and a blast of hot air from the diesel engine mounted in a compartment behind the cab.

The pride of both the signalman and the driver in their work was very obvious. Although I'm interested in the hardware, it's people, not machines, who make a railway succeed.

More pictures