Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Wairarapa Line [0E]: Volume 6 Progress Update 5

Since our last update we've spent a lot of time creating and updating mosaics for the historical part of the maps. We completed a set for Wellington to Ngauranga, and whilst Wellington more properly fits into Volume 2, Ngauranga is quite interesting due to the amount of changes that have occurred due to the motorway construction and industries changing. We used a number of different generations of aerial imagery for Wellington because it is a major yard, but in actuality the Wairarapa Line is said to commence 1.8 km from the zero peg at Wellington Station.

We are now working up into the Hutt Valley where the focus will be on combining a number of smaller Gimp projects into larger ones. The smaller ones seem to reflect on the computing resources we had a couple of years ago, so for example we expanded one that covered Woburn to Waterloo, into a much larger project including Petone, Lower Hutt, the entire Gracefield Branch and the first part of the former Hutt Park line, which was used for industrial sidings. 

We expect probably only two more Gimp projects will be needed to Upper Hutt (one from Waterloo to Silverstream and then another from Silverstream to Upper Hutt seems likely) and the current several from Upper Hutt to Featherston probably can be combined into a single project. After that one more project for Carterton and Masterton will see out Volume 6, and that will have to be all that is going to be completed for this volume, because timeframes are important. That will leave a week to put all the info into the maps and spit them out and hopefully we can get back on track with the timetable but it may not be possible to make up the lost time in reality and it may be the first or second week in March before this volume is actually complete.

Friday, 14 February 2020

NZ Rail Maps Project Development Report [2020C]

So a few days ago we completed Volume 5 of NZ Rail Maps. This is not the first time we have completed a volume in any format, but it is the first volume completed in the new online format. As previously noted, the maps in this photographic format are specifically designed to be used on handheld devices when actually travelling in the field, such as when riding on a train or travelling on adjacent roads.

Having had a few days to reflect, it is a big achievement. Volume 5 was issued in PDF format previously for the Napier-Gisborne section only, so it isn't so much a major achievement for Volume 5; it is much more of a major achievement for the whole project, being 1/12 of a methodical and planned megaproject of completing all of the maps in one year. 

When we planned this out, we didn't know how quickly we could do it, and therefore whether the maps would all be at basic level, with not very much of the historical aerial photos. There does seem to be, however, enough time to add some of the mosaic tiles for useful areas into the maps (at least for the stations that have official surveys) so we are adding as much of these as we can within time limits. In any case, it seems likely one or two volumes may take longer than planned, especially for example Volume 2 covering the NIMT, so a modest time overrun, say 2 months of next year, might be necessary. We will still be working to keep to time as much as possible with the rest of this year though.

Currently working is beginning on Volume 6, Wairarapa Line, with aerial mosaics of the Wellington end of the line currently being put together. This includes some work for Volume 2, NIMT. The first set of mosaics will cover Wellington yard and the Johnsonville Line for the NIMT, as well as Kaiwharawhara for both volumes, and Ngauranga for the WL. We had already done 1938 images of Wellington and 1944 of Johnsonville-Tawa a year or two back and to these we will add a 1941 view of Johnsonville station, 1971 views of the other stations on the Johnsonville Line, and stuff for Ngauranga from the 1960s and 1970s. Of Wellington itself, in addition to 1938, we will have an era for 1960, then 1988, and then 2000, the latter at quite a small scale but in colour as is 1988. There are a great many scans covering the Wellington railway yards at large scale in many cases (even for the highway surveys 1:3000 is not uncommon) which has given a lot of choice, and we already spent part of a day adding 1971 coverage of the yards and then dumped it the next day for the 1960 photos which were a motorway survey.

Once these are complete then the focus will be exclusively on the Wairarapa Line and pushing in additional coverage for all of the yards previously completed, although probably mostly just the official NZR surveys rather than the multiple generations and sources used for Wellington station. We anticipate starting the actual map drawing for the Wairarapa Line sometime next week and will be hoping the first set of maps produced doesn't need to be revised at all - unlike the Volume 5 situation where so many additionals were added from deciding at a late stage to add lots of extra historical stuff.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Wairarapa Line [0D]: Volume 6 Progress Update 4

Last time we posted on this subject was a month ago today and it's surprising it has taken that long to get back to Volume 6. Now that Volume 5 has been posted as detailed in our last post, we can push ahead with Volume 6 from next week, but the rest of this week will be spent gathering aerial photos. After considering our options, we will only be updating the main stations, such as Wellington (strictly speaking not part of the WL), Ngauranga, Petone, Upper Hutt and anything in between that has hi res official station surveys and had extra sidings at the time, then probably Featherston, Carterton and Masterton as available and anything else that has NZR station surveys. ALthough not checked yet, we hope this includes good quality scans of the Gracefield Branch freight yards and Seaview sidings. The last time we looked at any Wellington Region stuff, as with other areas we have been working on more recently, the station surveys had not been uploaded, and once again it is pleasing to have discovered them.

However due to lack of time we won't be doing any other stations at the present unless official station surveys are found, so the list of stations in our previous post is probably not going to be made use of. Even though the corridor is much less involved than Volume 5, with fewer branches and a much shorter overall length, updating all these stations is going to be fairly involved. So a lot of work will be needed and we have to try to get our original schedule back on track as well, being rather late in our release date for Volume 5.

We may update Wellington if there is time as a side contribution to Volume 2 but that volume will be one of the last completed in the North Island (NIMT) due to being so long and the central part of it having the least complete collection online so far, due to Horizons region only having been added to Retrolens at the start of this year. Amongst all the coverage for Wellington rail yards, so far yielding complete sets for 1969 and 1974, is what appears to be a full set of aerials the entire length of the Johnsonville Branch from 1971 which includes the terminus which was quite different then from what it is today. That will be very interesting as so far we have not turned up a good quality aerial photo of that station before now. However we are keen to locate some from an earlier era if possible especially when Johnsonville was more of a freight terminal, which was certainly the case when it was part of the main line, although that is too far back. It was a stock handling station until Raroa became the primary stockyards on the line.