top of page

DSM 30 in Life and Death

The Locomotives and Other Technical Information

  • Gauge: 3'6" (1067mm)

  • Length: ~220km

  • Construction Time: 2 years, 4 months

  • No. of Locomotives: 20+

  • No. of Bridges: Major Crossing = 4, Minor Crossing = Many

  • No. of Tunnels: 2

  • No. of Branch Lines: Major = 1(Coal Mine), Minor = 1 (known at quarry)

  • Longest (Known) Cutting: ~500m

  • Deepest Cutting: ~25m

  • Lowest Point: 5m

  • Highest Point: 150m 

  • Cost: 100,000+ Lives

The railway was built to connect with the existing Dutch line that finished at Muaro. This railway line as most in Indonesia did, had a gauge of 3'6" or 1067mm. This is classified as narrow gauge which was an ideal size for use in areas that had many tight curves and narrow confines, which would have required more earth works to upgrade to the larger gauges. This is also the main gauge used by the Japanese railways, which the engineers of WWII were instructed in, meaning they were accustomed to building in narrow gauge.

One of the pow's, W. R. Smith talks about the gauge in his original memoirs as well as his published book, and the "almost sacred" piece of equipment used to measure it. "It was kept, when not in use, in a soft-lined case. The gauge itself was made in varnished and polished hardwood and all the fittings to it were polished and machined brass. It looked somewhat like a large spirit level. It had two hinged pointers on the lower edge. When both pointers were at their nearest to each other, this represented the standard gauge between the inside surfaces of the rail lines (1.067 metres - 3ft 6 inch)." 

C54 Class Locomotive as seen at Lipat Kain

Known Locomotive Classes

C54 Class Locomotive

  • Builder: Hartman or Beyer Peacock

  • Wheel arrangement: 4-6-0

  • Gauge: 3'6"

  • Driving Wheel Diameter: 1,300mm

  • Weight: 61.85 Tons 

  • Original Owner: Semarang Cheribon Stoomtram (SCS)

  • No. Brought to the Railway: 4

  • No. Salvaged: 0

C54 Class Locomotive (Bingley Hall Collection)

The C54 locomotive was built for the Semarang Cheribon Stoomtram company. These locomotives were imported in 1922, with 13 purchased from Hartmann in Germany, and 6 from Beyer Peacock in the UK. The intention of these locomotives was to pull the express trains between Semarang and Cheribon at speeds of up to 75kph.

When the Japanese invaded they sent 4 of these locomotives to work on the Pekanbaru line, intending them to pull coal wagons from Petai. These locomotives were not suited to this kind of work due to its weight and the poorly constructed line. Of the 4 locomotives brought to the railway none were returned to the original owner, with only one still being visible on the railway today. It can be seen at what was camp 7 next to the Kampar Kiri River.

C30 Class Locomotive

  • Builder: Hohenzollern, Borsig, Werkspoor, or Hanomag

  • Wheel arrangement: 2-6-2T

  • Gauge: 3'6"

  • Driving Wheel Diameter: 1,350mm

  • Weight: 31.6 Tons 

  • Original Owner: Staatstramwegen op Zuid-Sumatra (SZS)

  • No. Brought to the Railway: 3

  • No. Salvaged: 0

C30 Class Locomotive

The C30 was another large locomotive sent to the Pekanbaru railway after the Japanese invaded Indonesia. Built by multiple companies in Germany and the Netherlands, this locomotive was a mixed traffic engine for pulling both passengers and goods for the Staatstramwegen op Zuid-Sumatra.


It was intended that these locomotives would also pull loaded coal wagons from the mine at Petai but again due to their weight they were not suited to the poor construction of the railway. None of these locomotives were returned at the end of the war and all were scrapped.

18 of these locomotives were also sent to Singapore and Malaya by the Japanese, where they were re-gauged to fit the local lines. All of these were also scrapped

2-4-2T "Hanomag" Class Locomotive

  • Builder: Hanomag

  • Wheel arrangement: 2-4-2T

  • Gauge: 3'6"

  • Driving Wheel Diameter: 1,300mm

  • Original Owner: Deli Spoorweg Maatschappij (DSM)

  • No. Brought to the Railway: 2

  • No. Salvaged: 1 (known)

2-4-2T #66 built by Hanomag (Bingley Hall Collection)

The Hanomag locomotive as seen above was one of two of these locomotives brought from the Deli Spoorweg Maatschappij in North Sumatra. Both DSM 66 (above) and DSM 60 spent their time on the Pekanbaru railway but only DSM 66 was known to have survived, being returned to North Sumatra by H, Meijer, an engineer with the Deli railway. Meijer had also been a pow on the railway and had seen his locomotives arrive in Pekanbaru. DSM 66 survived into the 1980's but was scrapped around this time.

C33 Class Locomotive

  • Builder: Esslingen

  • Wheel arrangement: 2-6-0T

  • Gauge: 3'6"

  • Driving Wheel Diameter: 1,000mm

  • Original Owner: Staatsspoorwegen ter Sumatra's Westkust (SSS)

  • No. Brought to the Railway: Unknown

  • No. Salvaged: Unknown

C33 Class Locomotive

The C33 class of locomotive was built by Esslingen in Germany and used to predominantly pull freight. On the Staatsspoorwegen ter Sumatra's Westkust, 23 of these little, but powerful locomotives were used to pull up to 600 tonnes of coal cars along the flats towards Padang and Teluk Bayur, where it could be loaded onto waiting ships.

When the Japanese began construction of the line from Muaro east, these locomotives were brought up from the flats around Padang and used on rail construction duties. They can be seen in some of the drawings done by the pow's. It is unknown how many of these locomotives actually worked on the railway as they could easily be driven out at any time and could have been interchanged, but at least 1 was left behind, now standing as a monument at camp 12 near Silukah.


The locomotive on the memorial to the railway and Romusha in Pekanbaru, C3322 was used well into the 1980's until it was retired and moved to its current resting place.

B51 Class Locomotive

  • Builder: Hanomag, Hartman, or Werkspoor

  • Wheel arrangement: 4-4-0

  • Gauge: 3'6"

  • Driving Wheel Diameter: 1,503mm

  • Weight: 32 Tons

  • Original Owner: Staatsspoorwegen (SS) or Staatstramwegen op Zuid-Sumatra (SZS)

  • No. Brought to the Railway: 1

  • No. Salvaged: 0

B51 Class Locomotive

The B51 class was a compound locomotive constructed by Hanomag, Hartmann, and Werkspoor. 44 of these locomotives were imported over a 10 year period. They were used as a mixed traffic engine by both the Staatsspoorwegen and Staatsspoorwegen op Zuid-Sumatra.


When the Japanese invaded they sent one of these locomotives to Pekanbaru where it was most likely used to haul coal or rail supplies to the camps.


It is unknown what happened to this locomotive, although there is a picture of a derelict boiler and wheels located in Pekanbaru after the war that resembles the outline of this locomotive. These remains have since been scrapped.   

DSM 30 by Krauss

  • Builder: Krauss

  • Wheel arrangement: 0-4-0

  • Gauge: 3'6"

  • Driving Wheel Diameter: 870mm

  • Original Owner: Deli Spoorweg Maatschappij (DSM)

  • No. Brought to the Railway: 1

  • No. Salvaged: 0

DSM 30 by Krauss (G. W. de Graaf Collection)

DSM 30 was built by Krauss in Germany for the Deli Spoorweg Maatschappij (North Sumatra) in 1897. This locomotive was then brought to the Pekanbaru railway following the Japanese invasion.


On the railway it would have been used for many duties including railway construction and shunting of wagons for the larger locomotives. With the locomotive being so small and light comparatively with the other locomotives on the railway, it could have proceeded further along the freshly laid rails. Should the locomotive come off the line it would have been relatively easy to put back on.


This locomotive did not survive the construction process however as it came off the line and ended up down a bank near camp 10, as can be seen in the photo at the top of the page. It rested here for many years until it was finally cut up for scrap sometime in the 1990's. 

DSM 7 by Hohenzollern

  • Builder: Hohenzollern

  • Wheel arrangement: 0-4-2T

  • Gauge: 3'6"

  • Driving Wheel Diameter: 1,100mm

  • Original Owner: Deli Spoorweg Maatschappij (DSM)

  • No. Brought to the Railway: 1

  • No. Salvaged: 0

DSM 56 by DSM P Brayan

  • Builder: Krauss

  • Wheel arrangement: 0-4-2T

  • Gauge: 3'6"

  • Driving Wheel Diameter: 1,100mm

  • Original Owner: Deli Spoorweg Maatschappij (DSM)

  • No. Brought to the Railway: 1

  • No. Salvaged: 0

It is unknown what happened to either of these locomotives above but they most likely ended up being left at one of the camps and were later scrapped.

Rolling Stock

Converted Rail Truck

A truck converted to run on rails

Although not technically rolling stock, they also aren't a locomotive. These trucks were just converted by the Japanese to run on rails using a simple drive from the trucks differential to the wheels. Many of these trucks were first used in construction of the Thai-Burma railway. Some were later brought to Pekanbaru by the Japanese Engineers, along with their wagons and converted from running on the 1000mm gauge (3' 3 3/8") of Thailand to the 1067mm (3' 6") gauge of the Pekanbaru Railway.

These trucks were used at the forefront of almost all construction, carrying the pow's to work, moving rail and supplies as they needed to be laid, and then transporting the pow's back to the camps at night. Many pow's recounted about being transported in these trucks and some were also depicted in drawn images.

None of these trucks still exist on the Pekanbaru railway, all having been scrapped following the end of the war. Many sat derelict in the jungle but as they were uncovered by the locals they were cut up. 

Coal Wagon

A Coal Wagon

The coal wagon above was a common site on the west coast of Sumatra for many years, and can be seen in the image of the C33 locomotive being unloaded at the port. These carriages would have been brought across from west Sumatra and used to carry coal from the mine at Petai to Pekanbaru where it could be loaded onto a ship bound for Johore. 

Box Car

A Box Car

The above box car is of the typical dutch style from the time of the Pekanbaru railway. These would have been brought from West Sumatra and would have been used for carrying supplies and pow's. There are many stories told by pow's, about being loaded into these cars at either Padang or Bukittingi (Fort de Kock) and being transported to Muaro to work on the railway.


At least one of these cars was left on the Pekanbaru railway near camp 4, where it stood into the 70's or even 80's, but has since been scrapped. This boxcar was covered in graffiti from the Dutch, English, and even Japanese.  

Sand Cart

A Sand Cart

This is one of the carts used for mining sand at camps such as that at camp 3. This sand was used to build the railway embankments and can be seen in drawings done by the pow's. It was normally run on a narrow gauge railway of 600-700mm and then pushed by hand to where it needed to go, although in some places there may have been access to narrow gauge locomotives, similar to those used at the coal mine.

Rail and Supplies

Romusha Unloading Rail and Sleepers in Pekanbaru

Again this is not rolling stock but without it there would have been no railway. The above picture shows Romusha at the beginning of the railway construction in Pekanbaru, unloading rail and sleepers which had been removed from other parts of Indonesia. This rail bore the makers mark of Krupp, BHP, and Ougrée as well as others. Some also bore the mark of the railway that it had been removed from, such as SSS (Staatsspoorwegen ter Sumatra's Westkust) ans SJS (Semarang-Joana Stoomtram Maatschappij).


It was noted by some Australian pow's when they saw the rail marked BHP, that the war must not be going well and that the Japanese must have invaded Australia. It is more likely however that this rail came from somewhere such as Banka Island where BHP Billiton had holdings.   

bottom of page