Saturday, March 7, 2009

Old Train Awakens West Sumatra Tourism

It was really an amazing start of operation of an old coal steam-generated tourist train in West Sumatra, one of the only two of its kind in the world, when it resumed function to meet the people`s demand.

The black locomotive train which locally called "Mak Itam" (Back Uncle) due to its black colour, resumed serving the Padang Panjang-Sawahlunto route in West Sumatra province only recently, after several years hiatus.

The "Mak Itam" locomotive identified with the serial number E1060 which was the last product of Germany`s Esseligent in 1966, which formerly carried coal from Sawah Lunto coal mining area, draws three comfortable coaches for tourists.

The coal steam-generated train in the province now remained one of the only two of its kind in the world with the other one in Switzerland, said a state-owned railway company PT KAI president director, Rony Wahyudi.

Serving its route, the old tourist train passed through attractive scenaries among other things beside Danau (lake) Singkarak. Danau Singkarak with 11,200 hectares wide is the second largest lake in Sumatra Island after Lake Toba in North Sumatra province.
Some 6,420 hectares of the Danau Singkarak is situated in Tanah Datar district and the rest in Solok district.

The "Mak Itam" train route from the town of Padang Panjang passed through the Lubang Kalam (dark railway tunnel) measuring 840 meters long (constructed in 1894) after the Singkarak lake before reaching Sawah Lunto district`s rail-way station.

The tourist train ran from Padang Panjang to Sawah Lunto 80 km for about three hours. The train passes by the Singkarak Lake of about 19 km long on cogged railway before reaching Muaro Kalaban railway station towards the high land of Sawah Lunto.
It was reported that the old coal steam-generated locomotive stop operating after the closure of open coal mine more than several years ago.

"The presence of cold steam-generated locomotive would bring us to an olden era of Sawah Lunto town," Indra Yosep, member of railway loving community said at the moment, adding that the tourist train locomotive was brought from Ambarawa (Central Java) to West Sumatra on December 13, 2008.

One of three coaches of the tourist train is for VVIP which is only equipped with ten super executive seats. The remaining two coaches were equipped with 70 seats respectively.

The commuter tourist train regular fare rate for one way trip per person in rupiah was set as follows.

* Padang Panjang - Sawah Lunto : Rp60,000
* Padang Panjang - Solok : Rp40,000
* Solok - Sawah Lunto : Rp30,000
* Sawah Lunto - Muaro Kalaban: Rp20,000

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