Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Midland Line [2B]: Arthurs Pass-Otira 2

I just did an evaluation of aerial photography availability for everything west of Otira. The answer is that there is no suitable historical aerial photography to do maps with west of Otira.

The net outcome is there will not be detailed historical maps for the Midland Line beyond Otira, or the SNL in the near future. It will be a lower priority. I will however work on generating current maps using the LDS present day aerials.

Here are some aerials of Otira that were generated today. Good coverage also exists of Arthurs Pass and mosaics will be forthcoming sometime soon depending on priorities. ML coverage is going to be limited to Rolleston-Otira for the present.

The below are two series of three views, each series covers the west and east ends of Otira, and in sequence in each series the views are 1943, 1982 and 2014.



Particular changes that are seen over this period at the east end include:

  • The turntable was replaced by a turning triangle. The old turntable went to Reefton where it has recently been removed to be preserved by the Engine Shed group.
  • In 1943 the old coal fired powerhouse was still present in the turntable area, as the supply of power for the overhead and township had at that time only recently been changed to hydro electric power reticulated from Lake Coleridge in Canterbury.
  • The single road engine shed located next to the back leg of the turntable. This was still used until the end of steam, as engines were stabled and serviced at Otira for the changeover to/from electric traction.
  • The traction depot for stabling and servicing the electric locomotives was demolished more recently after the end of the electrification. 



Particular changes that are seen over this period at the west end include:
  • A lot of housing has gone in the 36 year period since the 1982 aerial was taken. Probably again this is largely since the end of electrification, and the village was mostly sold some years ago with one or two houses either retained or leased by KRL as there is still a small staffing requirement for operating the diesel banking engines for trains.
  • The yard sidings behind the station building have almost all gone. This area is now used to stable the banker locomotives that are coupled onto each train to take it through the Otira Tunnel which is a steeply graded 1 in 33 section of the Midland Line.
  • The village road level crossing at the Greymouth end of the yard has been moved further west. Probably the reason for this is to do with the change in track layout.
One of the most obvious visual changes of course relates to the end of electrification about 20 years ago. The gantries which carried the traction overhead catenary are all gone now.