New Zealand Rail Maps is now published, with an article about the Otago Central Railway in the NZ Railway Observer which has just come out for this month. This is the first part of what is expected to be a three part article series about the Otago Central Railway and its history. When I decided to write this three part series it was because the Otago Central Railway occupies a special place in the NZ railway network because it is so accessible to the public, far more than any other railway in New Zealand whether current or historic. Anybody can experience the railway and there are different parts of it where you can experience it as a train journey and other parts where you can actually travel on it at your own pace and speed on cycle, foot or horse. There is also historical interest in the Cromwell Gorge section of the railway because of the massive changes in the landscape there due to the hydro development.
Because of this widespread accessibility over such a long length of 236 km, I have made a special focus on the Otago Central Railway for this year and have been working on the three part article series to release new information about the railway as well as to make available the series of maps drawn for the railway. These maps are being published online progressively as each part of the series is written, as the process of drawing them is part of the process of article writing that is going on. So while the full set of maps is not yet published for the Otago Central Railway, they are being brought online progressively at the moment.
As far as a hard copy printed output goes these series of articles are the sole representation of the NZ Rail Maps project in that format. We naturally have looked at printing out maps in various forms but the volume of maps that exists would fill many volumes if printed. If you look at the website (the address is at the top of this article) then you can see it has been organised into 12 volumes and each volume covers a number of different routes. Each volume of maps if printed could be between 100-200 A4 pages so there would be a considerable volume and cost. We do produce map books in PDF form that are uploaded to the Scribd website (linked to from the NZ Rail Maps website) and anyone could take one of these volumes to a printer like Warehouse Stationery and have it printed out to suit their needs. But we have decided not to get into actually publishing a hardcopy format of the maps and have stuck to online publishing. As the maps are released under Creative Commons anyone is free to republish them or anything as they please so there is nothing to stop anyone from printing out or even publishing maps themselves.
There will not be other articles about the railway network of New Zealand written. The other maps are just going to come out slowly over the next couple of years (I have set a deadline to have them finished but they may well take a bit longer if necessary) and the blog and other pages used by the site will have notifications when new maps are added within the 12 volume structure. This will include other Volume 12 maps (other than the Otago Central). Once I have finished the OCR maps the priority will be the other Volume 12 maps first of all so that a map book can be assembled and released for Volume 12. The only new stuff that may be published in the Railway Observer would be single photos with captions, and any updates that come through to the OCR articles.
It is unfortunate for me to have to comment on some attacks that have been made on me personally and which have regrettably clouded the development of this project. I accept that in the NZ rail community we have different views and ways of looking at things and there has been some conflict between myself and other members of this community over the years. Unfortunately for much of this year there have been a number of attempts by people to force me and this project off Facebook, most recently 2 days ago. The fact both myself and the project page are still on Facebook is due to the fact that I have not broken any rules of Facebook and have a legitimate right to have my personal and project pages hosted there. It also reflects that Facebook does not have effective procedures in place to deal with malicious harassment of Facebook members by disaffected persons. For this reason there is only limited project content related to Facebook and we do recommend that you bookmark the project website and other pages (other than Facebook) as these pages have not been affected by the Facebook issues and continue to host the project content unimpeded at this time.
The NZ Rail Maps project is my only engagement with the NZ rail community at this present time and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The research particularly into the OCR has been at a cost to me and I will not recoup any financial return whatsoever from producing these maps. As has been explained in the articles because it is not feasible to publish the maps in any known format they are being given away free of charge (under Creative Commons license) for any use for any reasonable purpose without charge (subject to any applicable CC terms). So they are a gift to the community and I hope people will find them useful.