Sunday, 17 November 2019

Lyttelton: Then and Now

Here is a much anticipated post about Lyttelton. However, it is just a brief comparison over 50 years. More in-depth of Lyttelton will follow as soon as we have completed archival research in a few weeks' time.

 Above: Lyttelton Port 1967. Below: Lyttelton Port 2015.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Project Diary 2019-11-15: Greater Christchurch Maps Key Milestone


We are pleased to announce a key milestone has been reached in the Greater Christchurch maps we are producing as part of the NZ Rail Maps project. We have now completed the historic aerial photo mosaic projects for all of Greater Christchurch, that is, the following four sections of railway:
  • Eastward: Main South Line from Christchurch to Lyttelton
  • Westward: Main South Line from Christchurch to Rolleston
  • Southward: Hornby Line from Hornby to Lincoln
  • Northward: Main North Line from Addington to Rangiora
This means the remaining steps needed to produce the actual maps for Greater Christchurch are:
  • Extract map tiles from the mosaic projects for GIS use 
  • Complete basic historical research for every station and siding in the Greater Christchurch area
  • Draw and label the maps for every location.
The extraction step is a slow one because of the use of multiple generations of historical aerial photography in the mosaic projects - the same reason why it has taken so long to produce those mosaics in the first place. In addition, once the resulting tiles have been imported into the GIS, it is common for mistakes to be detected at this stage, requiring more work to rectify.

The historical research stage is also slow because of the number of files that need to be consulted. At this stage we have been researching up to 50 files in a typical week over the past 3 months, which in total has been in actuality 500 files to date. We estimate it will take another 6 weeks of work to complete this but there may not be more than 200 actual files left to look at.

After obtaining the various diagrams that we have copied as part of the historical research, some of these will need to be imported into map mosaics where they are the only source of information for a particular historical feature. An example is the pumping station siding at 2.81 miles on the MSL that was the subject of a recent post. Since this did not appear on an aerial photo, the copied drawing was added into the existing aerial photo mosaic and another set of tiles (only 2 in this case) dated 1924 were produced for the GIS in order to be able to draw the maps that accompanied the blog post. There is likely to be more of this needed, so the mosaics will have to be added to with the diagrams that have been copied. However, unlike the aerial photos that have been used in the projects to date, most of these diagrams only cover small areas and therefore don't take very long to be added in. So that will not in actuality cause much additional delay, as most of the diagrams we have copied in actuality are just for labelling features that we can already see on aerial photos.

Then finally the maps get drawn and labelled. How much work is needed for each yard depends on how big the yard was. This in turn informs the complexity of the task. In the past we have gone to great lengths to document as much as possible historical changes visible on different generations of aerial photography. Our focus has changed with Retrolens because of being able to get the NZR yard and corridor surveys that are not available on our previous main source for the region, which was Canterbury Maps. This means we have changed focus into having really only one or two complete historical layers for a yard or section, which will be a yard survey if there was one, and a corridor survey if there was one that shows significant changes from the yard survey. There are a very small number of yards that have had two NZR surveys, and the corridor surveys are additional to these. In the case of a small number of yards there is no yard survey (Heathcote for example) and we are relying on other historical surveys that are available of the general area. For some stations these will be highway surveys if the yard was alongside State Highway 1 or another highway corridor.

Previously we would go to great lengths to try to document which parts of a yard in the modern era were based on historical features visible in the yard survey that might have been done 40 or 50 years ago. However as you can imagine this requires a lot of work, not the least because it is difficult to exactly align the historical aerial photos to modern ones, and because in the case of some yards (Lyttelton, Middleton and a few others that come to mind as examples) they have changed so much that there has been major track realignment. So right now the focus is on drawing every track in the historical layout as a "former" or "closed" track and then drawing the tracks again as "current" or "open" on the contemporary aerial background, and not bothering trying to work out which bits are common to both. Just that we will use the filtering capabilities built into the GIS to display the appropriate generation of track and structures etc with the aerial photo generation that is applicable.

As we have noted in previous posts the actual map drawing is the furtherest behind at the moment as we have focused most of our time in the last few months on the mosaics and research work. This has been changed this week with the completion of the mosaics and even though research is not completed, we are currently progressing as much map work as possible, with Lyttelton and Heathcote progressing well at present. There has just been a post about part of Heathcote and our next post will be about Lyttelton. However we still have to do historical research for Lyttelton so the maps posted in the next post will be necessarily limited until we can find out more historical information about the general layout of Lyttelton. On the other hand it is possible to push ahead with Heathcote to full completion because we have done most of the research on that yard although there is still a small amount, maybe one day's worth, to be carried out.

So expect to see a lot more posts about specific yards and locations in Greater Christchurch in the coming weeks. Once that is done, then the overall project work will shift back to the rest of NZ as detailed in other posts in the last few months with the total project schedule. We can then expect to see the volumes produced for all of the other maps for the whole country.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Heathcote Pumping Station Siding & Ferrymead Railway Siding

Recent research has turned up the existence of a siding to the pumping station in Scruttons Road, which is just behind Ferrymead Heritage Park. In fact it is right where the Ferrymead Railway's siding goes off the Main South Line.

The date of when the siding was established is unclear, but the file starts at 1899 when a five year term of renewal was being offered. The pumping station was owned by Lyttelton Borough Council as part of the town water supply. The pipeline itself, as is well known, runs through the Lyttelton railway tunnel, and at times has been cut by train derailments, for example when a locomotive has gone through the safety siding at Heathcote.

The siding came off the MSL Down Main at 2 miles 64 chains 58 links (2.81 decimal miles) which corresponds to just over 4.5 km in metric measurements. Since the actual location is closer to 5 km than 4.5, the zero peg at Lyttelton must have been in a different place in the late 19th century or early 20th century than it is today. This is further confirmed by the position of Heathcote Station from other research, at just over 2 miles (3.2 km), compared with the modern metric measurement of 3.6 km for Heathcote. Maybe the zero peg was on one of the Lyttelton wharves - we'll cover this idea in more detail in our first posting about Lyttelton. At the moment we have decided to finish drawing all of the very extensive Lyttelton trackwork onto the maps before doing our postings. This is a big task - there must have been over 100 sets of points at Lyttelton, with three way turnouts, crossovers and double slips galore, and maintenance of these would have been a big challenge for the track staff in the area.

Maintenance was also the reason why the pumping station siding was taken out. In the mid 1930s preparations were under way to introduce automatic signalling on the Main South Line between Christchurch and Heathcote. This would have required a switchlock installation at the pumping station siding. As the siding was by that stage little used, it was agreed in 1934 that the siding would be removed.

The area was then largely undisturbed for another 30 years until the Ferrymead Railway began to develop in the mid 1960s. This eventually led to the extension of the Railway to a siding that would be able to join to the main line to allow for the transfer of rolling stock. On 1 October 1978 this siding was used for the very first time. A temporary connection was made to the Down Main by cutting and slewing the track for a few hours, and a number of items were transferred, including several steam engines, and Vulcan railcar RM 56, which was the first of the three railcars to arrive at Ferrymead. (The Ferrymead Railway's recent celebration of 40 years of Vulcan Railcars was a year behind schedule)

There were numerous rolling stock transfers via this temporary connection on multiple occasions between 1978 and 1988. On at least one occasion a wagon was transferred by the use of cranes to do a lift from the main line to the siding. The actual connection of track was much more common and some of the times it was used include in 1979 when the other two Vulcan railcars were transferred, late 1983 (September?) when the Diesel Traction Group took delivery of DG 772 and ED 103 was also delivered to the Ferrymead Railway, and in November 1987 when the DTG's two DEs were delivered along with EW 1806, some wagons, and F 13 returning from a trip to Oamaru. However it is notable that many other locomotives at Ferrymead were moved in and out of the site by road, and this included the two English Electric DC locomotives EC 7 and EO 3 which were taken by road and stored alongside the tram barn until the mid 1970s when they were moved onto rail at the Ferrymead end, most of the smaller steam locomotives including C 864 and WD 357 that arrived in the 1960s and early to mid 1970s, as well as practically all of the carriages and wagons that have arrived before the permanent connection was put in.

With the impending Rail 125 celebrations in 1988 a regular connection with a turnout was first installed at that time, and as we all know this saw many locomotives and rolling stock vehicles moved out of Ferrymead for various events including the Diesel Traction Group's locomotives running a mainline excursion to Springfield, carriage A 516 and van F 372 that ran behind W 192 on a series of night trips to Kaiapoi, and the items used in the Cavalcade in the Christchurch railway yard. But the most regular use of the siding at Rail 125 was to run the steam shuttles from Christchurch to Ferrymead, which returned via Lyttelton due to the operational requirements imposed by the siding configuration. These were operated numerous times every single day of the festival with C 864. This was also the first time that any NZR locomotives actually ran on the Ferrymead Railway, as several shunts hauled by DJ locomotives were brought into the Moorhouse yard to move all the items needed for the Cavalcade to Linwood Loco.

After the completion of Rail 125, there was a need to decide whether to make what was a temporary installation, permanent, with proper signalling (principally a switchlock and trap points) to conform with normal NZR standards for private sidings. The cost of doing this was partly paid for by Ferrymead Railway, with more than 50% of it covered by Christchurch City Council on the basis that further opportunities for steam shuttle operations from Ferrymead would be beneficial for tourism in the city. However the potential of such operations has never been realised beyond the 1990 Steam and Rail Festival held at Ferrymead, which to the best of my knowledge is the last time that any such steam shuttle has run, and was a bit of a fizzer because C 864 ran a hotbox on a night service and hasn't operated since. A combination of factors have made it much more difficult to have these types of services running on the main line, including the closure of Christchurch Station and the altered track layout at the current Addington passenger station, and greatly increased mainline running standards and costs that have shut down Ferrymead Railway's local train running that was a feature of the mid-late 1980s Christchurch railway scene. So the siding doesn't get as much use and we have only very occasionally seen any kind of public passenger service come into Ferrymead, such as at Rail 150 when a Silver Fern railcar ran services in from Lyttelton. But it remains quite useful when the Diesel Traction Group want to send one of their locomotives out as they have done more recently with DE 1429 going to Weka Pass and DI 1102 going to Dunedin, or with the National Railway Museum's rolling stock arriving.

Due to the arrangement of the siding connection, rolling stock leaving Ferrymead must either run to Heathcote and then cross over to the Up Main to get to Christchurch, or run wrong-line to Woolston and cross over there. This requires special operating procedures as the line is signalled for unidirectional operation in the Down direction only, which means the section of the line has to be blocked against other Down trains until the locomotive reaches Woolston, and the crossing alarms at Scruttons Road and Chapmans Road will not operate until the train actually reaches the crossing and therefore have to be approached and crossed at 10 km/h and only after the bells and lights have been operating for long enough to allow road vehicles to safely clear the crossing. Rolling stock arriving at Ferrymead must run to Woolston on the correct line (regardless of which direction it is coming from) and then run into the siding from Woolston on the Down Main. In addition, permission must be obtained from Train Control to open the switchlock off the Down Main at the entrance to the siding. In accordance with standard siding design, a set of trap points and a trap points indicator are fitted to the siding and interlocked with the main line points, to guard against rolling stock running away from Ferrymead and endangering the main line.

This map using the 1985 NZR corridor survey shows the pumping station complex at that time.
A view in colour using lower resolution (0.75 metre) photography shot for Ecan in the 2000s.
This aerial photo was taken a couple of days after the February 2011 Lyttelton earthquake and shows the pumping station buildings completely gone as a result of damage sustained in the quakes.


And here is what the site looked like in 2015, which is practically the same today. The pumping station has been replaced with a new one with different buildings.

Archives New Zealand restricts reading room access nationwide

Being registered to do research with Archives New Zealand, our government department that stores up historical government records, I received an email today advising that nationwide reductions in reading room hours will be implemented as of March 2020. All reading rooms nationwide will be open for only four hours per day instead of 7.5 - 8 hours nationwide at present (except for Christchurch which has been 3.5 hours since the 2011 earthquakes).

Archives is justifying this by the drop in demand for reading room access due to their digitisation programme which has been underway since 2017. This programme has only digitised the most commonly accessed records. Whilst it is useful to be able to access scanned content online without visiting a reading room, the fact is that there are no plans to digitise all of the content they hold, only the stuff that is used the most.

The problem is that for researchers like myself we will always have to visit a reading room to access the majority of the content from multipage files that will never be scanned because it is too expensive. But it is also expensive to visit a reading room if you are coming from out of town, with accommodation and travel expenses, when potentially the number of days you would need to spend could be doubled by this decision. As it happens, Christchurch is flexible in that they have assured me that if an out of town researcher visits they are prepared to allow them to work in the afternoons beyond the closing time and also make special arrangements for local researchers who have a large amount of research to undertake. 

I have been fortunate to be able to access some special arrangements myself as the research undertaken to document the Greater Christchurch maps I am drawing does need access to a large volume of files, which I am working through as quickly as possible. So for the last 3 months I have viewed around 500 files which is a throughput about 40 a week and to get through those I really have to skim them very rapidly at around 5-10 minutes each and hope I don't miss any important info. All I am really seeking to get out of them is diagrams that show the yard layout and the names of the sidings so that maps can be properly labelled. So I have literally hundreds of photos of diagrams and other info to go through for map production and this has been taking up a lot of my time and less time has been spent actually drawing maps because I want to be finished in the Archives as quickly as I can. Hopefully in fact I will finish the current series by Christmas.

So having these arrangements with Archives is highly desirable if you need to get through a lot of material in as quick a time as possible because of time constraints. An example is, for the private siding research I have done, some of the files needed for the complete picture are only held in Wellington. I would have to go there and research them to get all of the information on a siding, and that is pretty well unjustifiable at the present time. But that is an example of how if you are from out of town, you want to be able to get the most done in the shortest possible time. Therefore anyone who is doing this type of research that they have to travel to get things done should be pushy about seeing if the Archives office they are visiting has that flexibility to enable them to work outside the regular times or other contraints if needed.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Project Diary 2019-11-02: Christchurch Maps

Our first blog post for November. 

Map production this week has been limited to a complex fix for a problem discovered in the Heathcote-Ferrymead maps for 1985. Trying to align two different rail lines in four places simultaneously can be very complex. Cutting the Main South Line out through the back of Ferrymead is a partial solution. The rest of the fix was to cut the aerial photo covering Ferrymead in half and align the two halves separately. Due to the amount of work needed, no action has been taken with other generations, although most of them satisfactory as they are. Most of the intention in having all the generations is not to document Heathcote, but more to do with the early history of Ferrymead.

Research this week has taken in Addington Station, including all of the private sidings, Templeton Station, and Papanui Station.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Project DIary 2019-10-26: Christchurch Maps

It's been another busy week of gathering research information and a lot of work pulling out map tiles. As noted in previous posts, we spend a lot of time each week, currently around 6 hours, researching all the stations in the Greater Christchurch area. This will involve viewing around 50 files a week and copying mainly track diagrams from them in order to be able to label everything on the maps properly. We have spent most of the time actually just gathering the information and very little lately has been put into maps because the process of creating the historic mosaics and getting map tiles out of them is relatively time intensive. 

So at the moment things appear to progress slowly while the main focus is in these phases of gathering information and investing a lot of work into creating the historical map background images to show the various locations around the Greater Christchurch railway network. This week's research had a look at Linwood Station which was a passenger station on the MSL between Christchurch and Lyttelton. It was located between Linwood Loco Depot and the Wilsons Road crossing and it served exclusively suburban passenger traffic. Like the other suburban stations on the "Port Line", Linwood closed in the early 1970s when the commuter trains to Lyttelton ceased operating, and there is practically no trace of it to be found today. However, NZ Railways Corporation still owns the entire Linwood site that it occupied until the mid 2010s and which is now leased to a number of entities. 

We also took a look at the early history of Linwood Loco, but aren't specifically interested in the entire history of that site, and haven't yet examined all of the records relating specifically to Linwood Loco. We also took a look at Opawa Station, which was the next stop up the line from Linwood and was also passenger specific. Ashley is another small station near Rangiora on the Main North Line and it was between those two stations that a couple of minor realignments of the MNL took place in the 1960s and 1970s relating to the replacement of two bridges, one of which is a major structure crossing the Ashley River. Ashley Station closed in the early 1960s partly as a consequence of the construction of the Ashley Bridge deviation but a siding is still in place for the nearby Canterbury Timber Products factory although disused for some years. Addington Station and also the Way and Works "Plant Zone" and the Signals Depot have been researched and we are currently looking at the numerous private sidings around Addington, including the NZ International Exhibition of 1906 siding which was laid from Riccarton Station across Hagley Park, and the lengthy Fletchers Siding also known as "The Alley" which served many industries and ran from Addington to nearly Riccarton Road.

Map tile production this week has taken in Heathcote and Ferrymead, so that we now have full sets of tiles covering 1940, 1950, 1961, 1970, 1973, 1976, 1985, 1995, 2000, and we also have the Linz aerial coverage for the 2000s, 2015 and some additional Canterbury Maps coverage for updating parts of Heathcote and Ferrymead to 2019. Normally for a smaller station like Heathcote we wouldn't cover such a large number of generations, however the interest for the widest range of coverage is more geared to Ferrymead, which was in significant development from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s. Now having these full sets of maps will enable work to go ahead particularly with a high priority for Ferrymead; given that we already recently got full map sets for Lyttelton but have done very little with them so far, our actual resources (time) for map drawing itself are a bit scarce at the moment.

A partially completed map of the Ferrymead Railway Moorhouse Village site in relation to the Main South Line in 2019.

The Ferrymead site in 1961, when it was still a dairy farm.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Project Diary 2019-10-18: Christchurch Maps

Progress on the maps this week has continued to focus on the Main North Line section of Greater Christchurch. This inches on towards completion with, we estimate, just a week more work to finish it. Quite a bit of work was needed just to add a 1955 aerial image showing the old route between Chaneys and Kaiapoi (deviated in 1958), and the similar but less lengthy realignment between Rangiora and Ashley (1961) is also going to be included. We also expect to show the first couple of km of the Eyreton Branch having found an image dated 1963, one year before the purported closure date. As of this moment, all of Belfast from 1950 to 1985 has been put in, and what is actually left is some of the imagery for Papanui, Styx, Kaiapoi, Eyreton Junction, Southbrook and Ashley. Flaxton isn't currently being mapped, but if I can find anything about it in Archives I may add it.

The extraction of the map tiles for any part of G.C. has proceeded quite slowly. The updates for Lyttelton have been extracted, paving the way to move on to Heathcote / Ferrymead. Once the maps themselves are completed then we can focus our full resources onto extraction. This is quite an involved process as it is not uncommon

Only one day of research has been possible this week, focusing mainly on Addington Station. So far we have avoided looking into Addington Workshops, planning to leave that for another time, but will try and find out if there is any coverage of Plant Zone.

In the wake of the local government elections with the result not showing much potential for the desirable level of change we sought, we are considering what level of campaigning to continue with. Christchurch Transport Blog has more details.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Project Diary 2019-10-12: Christchurch Maps

Local government election results are in and the unfortunate conclusion is we will not see much that improves Public Transport over the next three years in Greater Christchurch. More about this in Christchurch Transport Blog in the next few days.

Meanwhile Greater Christchurch maps are the main focus this week again and in recognition of the time this is taking, a project development schedule post went out earlier this week allowing for several months more work for the rest of the year and possibly the earlier part of next year on completing the GC maps.

The work is continuing on the last section of the Greater Christchurch map tile mosaics which is the section from Riccarton to Ashley. The tile work has been pushed ahead in the last few days. The research is also going ahead quite well with 50 files a week being worked through from Archives New Zealand's local office. However major areas are still to be researched including the stations of Lyttelton, Heathcote, Woolston, Opawa, Linwood, Addington*, Papanui, Belfast, Kaiapoi, Flaxton, Rangiora, Ashley, Middleton, Sockburn, Islington, Templeton. (* Addington has partly been completed, we have not yet looked at either of the Workshops or Plant Zone however and will have to prioritise these). The research has to do a lot of catching up as we only decided to start researching Greater Christchurch stations towards the end of August.

The tiles for most of Lyttelton have now been extracted but a small change put into the mosaic means re-extracting a small number. In the coming week we can expect to see tiles extracted for Heathcote and Ferrymead.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

NZ Rail Maps Project Development Report [2019L]

After reviewing progress for the year so far, the goals that were set back in January and the progress achieved in them, the following decisions have been reached:
  • The maps for Greater Christchurch to be completed as intended, with multiple map generations, for four sections of line - Christchurch to Lyttelton, Christchurch to Lincoln, Christchurch to Burnham and Christchurch to Ashley.
  • Research undertaken at Archives New Zealand for map development purposes will be prioritised to that needed to produce the Greater Christchurch maps.
  • The estimation to complete the Greater Christchurch maps will be the end of 2019 but it is hard to be sure exactly how much time is needed as there is still a considerable amount of work needed to finish them off. The maps themselves are largely complete but the tile sets have to be extracted from every project file, and then checked for accuracy to see if any adjustments are needed. The maps then have to be traced off the tiles, and correlated with research information. This all takes a lot of time, and could well stretch into 2020.
  • After that, work will resume on the schedule published back in January, the priority being Basic maps for all other areas, with Intermediate or Comprehensive in a few areas. The amount of Comprehensive work will be strictly limited as we are running out of disk space in which to store the mosaic tile project files, so probably Basic completion will be prioritised except in Volume 12 which is committed to be completed as Comprehensive.  (To give some perspective, project development files currently occupy 1.5 TB of disk space of which 1.1 TB is mosaic tile projects)
Although the schedule has been pushed back a year by embarking on the Greater Christchurch maps, it was planned as the first year of approximately a 3 year schedule, so there is still a reasonable amount of time in which to push ahead and complete all 12 volumes in 2020. As we now have access to Linz aerial layers off WMTS, this will save greatly on the work needed to download the background aerial imagery for tracing Basic maps, which is quite time consuming. 

However the loss of this year from what was originally planned does mean the overall schedule is going to be reduced. To put it in a nutshell, the plan is that by the end of 2021, the project work will be substantially completed, with maps produced for every part of the national railway network of NZ. This will wind up 14 years of continuous work on the maps project. After that time only maintenance updates will be performed. We haven't yet confirmed this exact schedule for 2020-2021 yet but it will become clearer during 2020 exactly which schedule for project wind down will be appropriate. If 2020 is taken with all 12 volumes to Basic level this leaves 2021 available for Intermediate or Comprehensive level for some of those volumes but not all of them.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

HIGH POWERED WORKING GROUP RECOMMENDS PORTS OF AUCKLAND CLOSURE IN FAVOUR OF NORTHPORT DEVELOPMENT


The Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Working Group, an independent working group established by Cabinet last year to undertake a comprehensive review of NZ’s freight and logistics sector for the upper North Island, has released its second report of three planned. It recommends that Ports of Auckland undergo a managed closure and that Northport at Whangarei be developed as a new major freight port for the Upper North Island, along with options for continued investment in Port of Tauranga as an alternate port for the UNI freight task.

The base assumption in the report is that public pressure in the City of Auckland will force the Port to eventually relocate to a new site outside the City. Whilst Auckland Council has desired to keep the Port within its regional boundary by touting a possible development in the Firth of Thames, the report found on the basis of a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) analysis, the development of Northport as the main alternative had a much higher BCR – 2.0 – compared to the Firth of Thames option’s BCR of only 0.2. The option for Northport and Tauranga sharing the existing POAL traffic has a lower BCR of 0.6 than the Northport main alternative scenario,, due to the costs of additional investment at Tauranga, whilst the option for closing POAL and shifting all of its current freight to Tauranga has a BCR of only 0.1. Thus, moving all of the existing freight from POAL to Northport yields by far the strongest financial case in the scenarios that involve closing Ports of Auckland.

The proposal to develop Northport as a main or shared alternate to POAL would require a substantial investment in the North Auckland Line, which has so far had $94 million of upgrade work approved by Government. A much more significant business case that is currently under consideration for Northland’s rail network involves the likely scenario of building the long-mooted spur line from Oakleigh to Marsden Point, an essential missing link in establishing rail freight services to the Northland Region’s major international port. Rail haulage of freight to and from the port has not been possible since it took over from Whangarei around 20 years ago. Significant development of the spur route was undertaken by the Clark Labour Government and Northland Regional Council in the late 2000s but was stopped by the incoming National government, and resumed in 2017. The geotechnical analysis of this route has been completed, and detailed engineering scenarios and costs are currently being developed.

The working group has a third report due out shortly to consider other issues and there are many questions relating to this proposal. The most significant one is that the costs of moving freight into and out of Auckland would be increased. Large volumes of containers can be moved more efficiently by sea than by any form of land based transport. Therefore the onus would fall upon the rail network to develop the most cost effective means of running trains between Northport and Auckland, a distance of around 225 km (port to port). This would entail the development of the highest capacity capability to run the largest trains operated in New Zealand and likely require the full doubling of the existing route over time, and possibly future electrification. Currently the line has numerous tunnel clearance problems and there are some steep grades in a few places that could benefit from easing to increase capacity. The biggest questions of course are political ones, that the Government will need to weigh up before deciding whether to proceed with the overall scenario, or other possibilities.

This scenario overall is more realistic than one that has been floated in some circles, that Northport should be the sole international terminal in NZ with all other locations served by land transport links or coastal shipping. However the number of international container terminals presently in NZ is excessive. The NZ Shippers Council has suggested four ports (two in each island) would be ideal for NZ’s needs. The UNISC scenario reduces the international container ports in the upper half of the North Island from three to two and is a step in the right direction from that perspective at least.

For more information about the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy, visit their website at
https://transport.cwp.govt.nz/multi-modal/keystrategiesandplans/upper-north-island-supply-chain-strategy/

 The North Auckland Line – 280 km from Auckland (left) to Otiria (right). The former terminus, Opua, is the northern most railway station ever opened in NZ.

Proposed route of the Marsden Point spur between Oakleigh, near Portland, and Northport.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Project Diary 2019-10-03: Christchurch Maps

Well here's another update, and promises, promises, promises.... the last week has slowed things down a bit due to having to deal with other issues, but we are back up to speed now. Plus there have been more than a few issues with Gimp that caused crashes, meaning having to go back and redo stuff and try to find out what wouldn't crash.

The reason there are issues with Gimp and needing a lot of hardware resources (a PC with 32 GB of RAM and a 200 GB SSD swap partition to use for the tile cache), is our preference to use the highest resolution imagery we can. For base imagery that is a resolution of 0.075 metres per pixel (i.e. 7.5 centimetres) and everything snowballs from there. Take for example Lyttelton. We could just do the main railyard but have chosen to cover all the areas where tracks went to, and that means a canvas of 12 tiles wide and 4 tiles high. That translates into a size in pixels of 57600 by 28800, or 1.6 billion pixels total. The highest resolution imagery from Retrolens (usually around 1:4300 scale but occasionally 1:3400) fits in well with that base resolution. By the time we've added in a few eras of historical imagery (from 1940 to 2000 generally) then the result, in this case, is a file size of 21 GiB. It's only since Gimp 2.10 came out that it's been possible for it to handle files greater than 4 GiB in size, which is a real blessing because otherwise multiple files would be needed which would be very inefficient and time consuming. 

We started out some of these Gimp projects covering multiple stations but then as more layers were added (we use a rule of thumb that no project will have more than 100 layers) some of these projects grew too big and had to be split into multiple files. That happened in the case of Lyttelton, which used to have Heathcote along for the ride, which is what was happening earlier this week when everything kept crashing because the system or Gimp hit some sort of limit. Heathcote is a big area to cover because it takes in Ferrymead, so the result was a lot of area to cover and eventually the need to split the files, which we can now recognise because the current version of the Heathcote file is 30 GiB and that is the upper limit of file size we're prepared to work with, from experience. With a file that size it takes ages to load into Gimp, the system will easily use half the total tile cache just to bring it up with no edits, and it can take three hours to save (and Gimp can still crash partway through the save if the file is too big and lose everything). So you can see we are working with some real limits.

The resource issues for doing these highest quality images is the key issue that affects the kind of coverage we do of stations around the country. Christchurch is a particular exception that is going to be the highest quality for all of Greater Christchurch, across multiple generations, and backed up by research as well. That simply can't be justified across NZ, and only major yards will get done to that level. Most sites will be done with just the NZR survey, an example being Bluff that was recently draw up, it was done to high quality but only one generation of historical images. With corridor surveys we can cover the smaller stations as well, but if we can't get coverage of them when they were open, there won't be any. Before we dropped the Midland Line coverage to focus on the Greater Christchurch stuff, we had covered just about all the stations to Kotuku with corridor surveys plus the major stations and some research as well. The same will go through for the MNL and MSL eventually as far as we can get to.

Anyway back onto Greater Christchurch, we only have the MNL from Riccarton through to Ashley to complete. The tiles for the rest will start to get spat out as quickly as we can from here, because map drawing is way behind and really needs to be pushed along as quickly as possible now. So all that MSL stuff will be pushed out as map tiles and then be drawn alongside finishing that stretch of MNL as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Project Diary 2019-09-24: Main South Line

The southern most section of the Main South Line, from Templeton to Burnham, for the Greater Christchurch maps, has been completed in a mosaic form, with eras of historical maps varying from the early 1940s through to the year 2000. We had only intended to go as far as Rolleston, but as Burnham is just south of there and did have its own railway siding into the army camp, it was decided there was no harm in including that stationb. Apart from Templeton, Rolleston and Burnham, this mosaic project also includes Weedons and Weedons Air Base Siding. The air base site was opened sometime in the 1940s and closed roughly 60 years later, but the last remaining storage hangar was only removed quite recently.

The current Linz aerial photos we have of Rolleston are too old to show the Port of Lyttelton inland port site details, and since Canterbury Maps have much more recent ones, we will endeavour to find some way we can use the more recent imagery.

Mosaics are mostly completed for the rest of the Main South Line but there is still a bit of work to be done on the Lyttelton-Heathcote section. The Hornby Industrial Line section to Lincoln has been mosaiced and we are currently doing research on this section from Archives New Zealand. What has still to be carried out is the overlaps between all of the different mosaic projects that are of continuous sections of the rail corridor. In general the MSL corridor is mapped as a continuous section from Heathcote to Islington, and the Hornby Industrial Line from Hornby (MSL junction) to Lincoln. For  practical purposes these continuous sections are divided into a number of different Gimp project files with small overlaps, usually a single column of Linz base tiles. This makes it possible to easily copy overlapping layers between Gimp projects so that the other layers in a project can be lined up with the overlaps; this means that when the tiles are all viewed together in Qgis, everything lines up nicely across all the different sections. In Qgis the tiles are grouped by station, so that the different eras of a station's aerial photos can be turned on or off as the base imagery for each section of the maps. 

The local government elections in Christchurch are now underway and we await the results with interest. We believe that greater Government intervention in Christchurch is required to reorganise the planning focus of the city to designate the key rail corridors for their importance to urban development to get a full public transport focus for commuter rail in the city. The new city council will need to focus more on working with other bodies cooperatively and drop the previous council's efforts to take over the public transport system which has been an unneeded distraction. Public transport should continue to be regionally organised with increased powers given to the regional council. The Government has been content to date to leave the business cases for commuter rail to be developed by the local authorities which is really just giving a nod to their fellow Labour Party members in those authorities rather than actually indicating a genuine intention to bring about the implementation of such a service.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Project Diary 2019-09-12: Hornby Industrial Line

As we continue assembling maps for Christchurch Transport Blog use, currently we have shifted to the Hornby Industrial Line, which is historically the section of the former Southbridge Branch from Hornby to Lincoln. It was designated as such in July 1962 after the branch was closed beyond Lincoln. In December 1967, the section of the Hornby Industrial Line between Prebbleton and Lincoln was closed. Subsequently, the section from around 3 km to Prebbleton was closed, although most of the track is still in place as far as Springs Road, except for the section now crossed by the Christchurch Southern Motorway, SH76. The Prebbleton overbridge was demolished in 1997, and all of the corridor south of Springs Road has been built over. The section from south of SH76 to Springs Road has been reused for a rail trail alongside the mothballed track. 

From time to time the idea is floated that the line could be reopened to Lincoln and if this were to take place, the route beyond Prebbleton would have to be changed due to the reuse of the corridor, including new station sites.

The maps below show some of the sidings which can be traced in the 2015 aerial photography. We know that many more will be visible on the historical map mosaic tiles when they are finished.

Around 1 km, with a siding visible across the site of a demolished building.
Around  1.5 km, at least three sidings are still partly in place.
Quite a notable siding around 2 km.  These premises are currently occupied by Pengelly Transport and may possibly have been used by Toll Freight at one stage.
The lengthy Watties-Tegel siding at around 2.5 km. This was the last siding used on the line. With the closing of this siding, there is no traffic currently moving on the line.
United Empire Box Co Ltd (known today as UEB) seen above in 1973 with a siding. There is no obvious trace on the aerial photos of this siding today.
UEB in 2015.
Prebbleton yard seen in 2012.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Project Diary 2019-09-07

As some will know, this week CHAT Club released their "MaRTI proposal", which suggests the Middleton rail yards could be turned into a housing development. A couple of posts about it have appeared on Christchurch Transport Blog, but the indepth analysis hasn't been done until the historical maps of Middleton are ready. As per usual this has taken longer than expected but right now they are about to be saved in their final form.

The Gimp project covering this part of the MSL takes in from Middleton to Sockburn in order to keep the project at a reasonable size but it still has nearly 80 layers and a file size of just over 30 GiB. As per usual we start with 1940 as the first era covered, then 1950 and 1961. These three eras in particular are pretty much what can be found to cover any part of the railway landscape in Christchurch, but they are not rail specific. They vary up to about 1:16,700 scale. What is rail specific for this particular part of the MSL rail corridor are the NZR station surveys, which are in particular for Middleton in 1967, Hornby in 1972, Middleton again in 1975 and Sockburn in 1980. The actual areas covered extend outside those named stations. Typically the station surveys have a scale of around 1:4300.

Then we have the MSL corridor survey starting at Lyttelton and heading to Ashburton in this case, and it dates from 1984. Scale for these corridor surveys is usually 1:5500. To finish off we have two more non-rail surveys which are again standardised over much of Christchurch, and they are from 1994, and the only colour one which is from 2000. These last two are at a scale of 1:50,000 and because they cover such a large area at that scale, they have to be trimmed down to covering only the base tiles that we actually use in order to avoid a lot of unnecessary pixels having to be saved in the file and blowing it up too big. To explain further, these are the only layers that cover the whole area of the project canvas in one single layer, and with a canvas that is only half filled, due to the shape of the base not being a nice and regular, we have to avoid covering areas of the canvas that aren't occupied by the base layers, because it just wastes file space unnecessarily and it can add up to a few extra GiB each time we save, which is a big deal.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Project Diary 2019-09-03

Chat Club, a group of transport professionals that has been running rail passenger workshops in Christchurch, proposed at a seminar on Monday evening that the Middleton rail yards could be closed down and relocated further west, to enable the land occupied to be redeveloped for medium density affordable housing (1600 homes approximately). About 50 people attended the presentation, including a number of candidates in the upcoming local elections.

There have been two articles in the "Press" so far:
The first one is the details of the proposal and the second one states that Kiwirail is not planning to move from the Middleton site.


At this stage it will be interesting to see where the proposals go as it will now have to be looked into further as an option if the Minister of Transport decides to investigate the idea. At the same time there are several other possible sites nearby, such as Addington Saleyards, Waltham freight yards and Linwood Loco Depot land which has either been undeveloped or minimally developed.

As for NZ Rail Maps we have historical maps of Middleton currently in the works and these will probably be posted on this site later this week or early next week. We also will have the historical maps of Linwood and Waltham available soon as well.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Project Diary 2019-09-01: Comment on our relationship with the rest of the NZ rail heritage community

As many of you know, we have not always enjoyed good productive relationships with the rest of the NZ rail community which is partly why this project has its own separate Facebook presence and our involvement of various hobbyist groups has waxed and waned over the years. Ongoing politics relating to this project and to Patrick personally has continued to the present day.

Because of this the decision was made the decision over the last week to withdraw from every Facebook rail-specific group and the implementation of this was completed as of today. A project-related membership is still held of one or two minor and specialist groups that are not read or visited very often which are exclusively related to map production and sharing.

It may be we will review the group membership and rejoin in the future but at the present time we just need a break from these forums which has been a difficult and ongoing issue over the past decade or more.

There are a few people in the Project's own Facebook group who have provided us with or may be able to continue providing us with valuable resources in the future and we would certainly like to thank each and every one of you who has assisted with this and is able to keep assisting with this into the future.

This decision does not in any way affect the continuation of the project in the slightest. It is simply a reflection that a break is needed from these groups which are currently contributing very little to the overall project and we need time to evaluate the contribution they are making to the project and whether it has been worthwhile. We have left those groups on good terms with the admins and could easily choose to rejoin any of the major ones at any future time.

The project will continue the same tomorrow as it did yesterday or last week or the month before and all of its resources including our own Facebook group, Blogger blog, the Wordpress website, and Google Photos albums of all the information will carry on exactly as they do now.

The decision reached is to allow us to concentrate on this project more exclusively and to facilitate stronger relationships with other related projects that are Canterbury based. This includes membership of local and national railway preservation societies and contributions made to them, and the development of rail campaigning that is being facilitated through Christchurch Transport Blog. Membership is retained of a small number of groups related specifically to the campaign interest. It has been found that the personal relationships being fostered through these developments in groups with relatively smaller membership have become far more valuable than much of the associations and acquaintances that have occurred through the broad based rail community Facebook forums and the interaction with their large membership.

We believe the future of this project and of our work in Canterbury and to some extent nationally in promoting rail and rail heritage looks bright for the coming weeks and months and we welcome and acknowledge all the ongoing support of each and every person who has supported this project since it began in its current form at the start of 2008. Currently the project is working to an assumption that over the next two or three years there will be a concerted and conclusive effort to bring as much of the project as possible to a completed state so that the activity level on it can be wound down. This has been alluded to in posts at earlier times referring to development schedules. As this year's original development schedule has not been met, due to other projects becoming more prominent, it will be reviewed at the end of this year and revised accordingly to make sure it is still possible to achieve the original goal. We anticipate it will not be possible to continue the current scale of map production of the last three years in particular although there is no timeframe for when the current level of resourcing is expected to decrease, and as referred to in the last one or two posts, resourcing has been increased this week to enable the mosaics in particular to be produced more rapidly because that is the part of the project that takes the most time to complete.  The additional resources cost a mere $62 to provide and consist of a larger SSD for a computer and have had a significant impact and will enable us to much more efficiently utilise project time which is very important as there are now the competing demands that will continue.

To conclude and summarise the project leadership does not believe that this decision will have any major impact on the project, the project schedule will not be changed from where it was yesterday or in the last week or month, the project welcomes and continues to welcome the contribution of all the members of our Facebook forum and other associated means of contribution, and the project continues to forsee a bright future for the continuation of the project in the coming weeks and months. Thankyou to all personally for your support.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Project Diary 2019-08-31

In today's update, we can report we have finally completed the historical map mosaics for the section of the Main South Line from Woolston to Waltham, after splitting the Gimp project into two parts to deal with persistent crashes caused by project file size. The last section to be added this morning was the historical coverage of the section for the year 2000, which is the most recent aerial photography available from Retrolens.

The historical eras covered in these mosaics of the Main South line are 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, with Linz aerial photography available after 2000. NZR official station surveys cover from Opawa to Waltham in 1970, Woolston in 1974, and Woolston to Waltham in 1981. NZR corridor survey is available from 1984, but only for Waltham; for some reason, an entire run (B) is missing from this survey. The rest of the coverage is general for Christchurch and of a lower quality and only the NZR surveys in general will be able to fill in the historical data for the section.

To back up the map data, this week we also have commenced three half-days of research at Christchurch Archives at the rate of one half-day per week for the Christchurch Station, which includes Waltham. We are prepared to carry out the more intensive scale of research just for Christchurch, and do not intend to spend any significant amount of time on the other stations, each of which would have less than one half-day spent on them. In each half-day session we would typically expect to view and copy content from around 40 files, and the time scale of one half-day per week is governed by limits on the rate at which Archives can produce and issue the files for our research. The main purpose of this research is to obtain additional map information about the locations and track layouts of sidings and time limitations mean we are not able to take in general historical research of the areas concerned, even though much of the information about Christchurch in the 1980s and 1990s is very interesting, being an era we lived through and had extensive knowledge of from a personal perspective.

At the moment our focus is going more into producing all of the mosaics as quickly as possible for Greater Christchurch, and less into drawing actual maps, and that is why we are publishing project diary updates lately rather than map coverage of the areas. This is driven by the needs of Christchurch Transport Blog for map tiles for project work, being a higher priority than NZ Rail Maps at present. Once all of the Greater Christchurch map tiles have been completed, then NZ Rail Maps can go back into map development around the country according to its existing goals. This of course also means the original project schedule for NZ Rail Maps that we outlined for 2019 will not be kept. We estimate at the moment it may take for the rest of 2019 to be able to complete the Christchurch Transport Blog map tiles, and therefore will have to rearrange our goals. 

This will mean the overall schedule for completing the bulk of the NZ Rail Maps project work for all of New Zealand will be altered. Against that, having increased resources has improved our efficiency considerably this week and will speed up the mosaic production.

Tile extraction for Woolston to Waltham will start early next week, so expect to see some actual historical mappables displayed in the next update. Mosaic production is shifting to the Middleton to Hornby section of the Main South Line, the Lyttelton to Heathcote section of the Main South Line (including Ferrymead) and the Bryndwr to Ashley section of the Main North Line which as far as possible will be worked on more or less simultaneously, as is now easier to achieve with the resourcing improvements.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Project Diary 2019-08-29

This week work is still continuing on the historical map tiles for Waltham, Linwood, Opawa and Woolston. We have gained some additional resources this week to enable us to speed up the tile production work, so we are also simultaneously working on tile production for Middleton to Hornby section of the Main South Line, and the Bryndwr to Ashley section of the Main North Line. So the production of these tiles should be able to be sped up noticeably, as part of the reason for it being slow is the inherent slowness Gimp has when working with very large mosaic projects. Some of these cover a canvas surface having a working area of 3.5 billion pixels (3,500,000,000) and around 100 layers in total. The Woolston-Waltham project is now completed and tile extraction will be commencing and could be completed tomorrow but will probably have to be deferred for a couple of days due to other commitments, and we have had numerous Gimp crashes, so it has been slowed down a lot from what we expected last week.

The issue with a city like Christchurch or any main centre is you are looking at an entire section of a corridor, rather than a number of individual stations along it. Because there are sidings and stuff all the way along that corridor that you want to document, and that is certainly the case for the Main South Line from Woolston to Islington in particular, and on the Hornby Industrial Line as far as Prebbleton. It is not quite the same on the Main North Line which has historically much less industrial development. So that dictates Gimp projects that cover large areas. We could split these into multiple smaller projects but then there is too much problems with overlapping at the edges of these projects because those edges all have to line up when the tiles are put together in Qgis, and the historical aerial photos boundaries don't neatly end on a tile boundary. So a smaller number of larger projects is definitely the way to go, but we have had a few instances of having to split some of them up when they got too large. For example Addington to Ashley started off as one project, but then Addington and Riccarton got combined into another project with Christchurch and it ended up too large to put the rest of the MNL suburban area into it, so Bryndwr to Ashley is what it has ended up as. Same with Lyttelton to Waltham originally being one project that now has Lyttelton and Heathcote in one file and Woolston to Waltham in another. And so on. 

The extra resources mean the time Gimp wastes on saving large projects, which can actually take several hours to complete, can be used to work on another project at the same time. So in fact today we really were working on three at the same time at one stage because the first one was being saved. After completing the progress on the second one, it too was saved, and while that was happening, we worked on the third. Another time saving measure is to use Cubic interpolation for unified transforms instead of LoHalo. My hunch is that Cubic is a lot faster than LoHalo and makes very little difference to the quality of practically any layer we throw at it.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Project Diary 2019-08-22

Since last week's diary report we have continued working on the maps for the Christchurch area. Putting together all the aerial photos can take a while to complete but we now have complete historical aerial photo tiles for Christchurch, Addington and Riccarton, and have started working on ones for Waltham, Linwood, Opawa and Woolston. These ones should be ready in a couple of days. Then after that we still have, as far as Greater Christchurch goes, to look at Lyttelton, Heathcote, Middleton, Sockburn, Hornby, Islington, Weedons and Rolleston on the MSL; Prebbleton and Lincoln on the Hornby Line; and Bryndwr, Papanui, Styx, Belfast, Chaneys, Stewarts Gully, Kainga, Kaiapoi, Flaxton, Southbrook and Rangiora on the MNL, to complete all of the stuff for GC.

Research has shifted to the GC area as well. After a break from the Midland Line work is starting with Christchurch Station which will take about 3 weeks to complete with over 100 files to view. The plan is to look at every station within the GC area in order to be able to fully detail the maps being drawn of the area.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Project Diary 2019-08-12

This week we have switched back to the Christchurch area maps due to the impeding local government elections. We are currently working with several candidates and preparing material in order to assist some of their campaigns, in association with Christchurch Transport Blog.

Because of this the Midland Line work has temporarily halted, although research at the local branch of Archives New Zealand has continued. We estimate approximately two more days of research at Archives will be sufficient to complete the Midland Line maps, but are unsure exactly when these maps will actually be ready.

We are taking the time to complete more of the historical maps of Christchurch as well as some of the other stuff we are doing so I have pulled up a number of Gimp projects and revised them as necessary to keep them within reasonable file sizes. For the Main North Line it is now split into one project that covers Addington and Riccarton along with Christchurch (from MSL) and a second one covering from Bryndwr to Ashley, previously it was all one project from Addington to Ashley. 

For the Main South Line we have Lyttelton to Heathcote including Ferrymead in a project, then from Woolston to Waltham, then from Middleton to Hornby, and then from Islington to Rolleston. The reason Christchurch was put in with Addington going north to Riccarton was because we had Addington in two projects, one for the MNL and one for the MSL, which was an unwarranted duplication.The one we haven't started on really is Hornby to Lincoln, and it's likely we will take Hornby out of the MSL Gimp projects at this point and put it into the one for the Hornby Industrial Line.

It's timely to comment briefly about maps of local government boundaries. Linz Data Services does not have this type of map in the list of layers that can be downloaded through their site on Koordinates. However, Statistics New Zealand, another Government department, does have them through its Datafinder site, http://datafinder.stats.govt.nz also hosted on Koordinates. As a result we have taken the opportunity to download six layers together: Maori Constituency 2019, Constituency 2019, Community Board 2019, Regional Council 2019, Territorial Authority 2019 and Ward 2019. This information is needed in order to discover the boundaries of each of the wards for the Regional Council elections and in so doing, be able to assist certain candidates in the wards of the transport related issues in their constituency.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

MSL Branches [17A]: Bluff Island Harbour


This week we took a little side trip to have a look at Bluff with the NZR aerial photos from 1972-3 covering the island harbour as well as the land based station yard. Like many ports, Bluff once had extensive shipside trackwork on the wharves that is no longer needed in this era of containerisation. As a result their rail network is much less extensive than formerly, aided by the shift to road transport and traffic being railed between Southland and other regions' ports to suit shipping patterns.


 Starting off with our usual pair of overview maps showing how things have changed over a 40-plus year period.

Our first maps are the island harbour. We don't know much about this structure, when it was built or for what purpose. Most ports have a series of wharves that jut out from and at right angles to, the shoreline. The "Island" is very unusual in NZ, and made for an interesting and unique rail layout. The westernmost tip as you can see was notable for the railway engine turning triangle, which is now gone.

Going east along the island, we get into one of the wharves, with a storage shed and attendant sidings. Ship-side sidings were very common on NZ wharves once, but have mostly disappeared since containerisation made it unnecessary to directly unload to railway wagons. Often times tracks are still in place on parts of wharves, but here there is just a single siding still connected and usable.

 More into the middle of the island is the main railway storage area. However the large yard with its multiple sidings has been largely reduced to the main line and a couple of tracks.

The south-eastern part of the island had several wharves along with their numerous tracks. Scissors crossings and other complex track structures such as double slips were commonly seen on wharves back in the day in order to fit as much track space as possible into a cramped layout. These days all but gone with just a couple of tracks across the whole area.

We can now have a look at the main railway station and yard at Bluff. The curve taking the main line across the bridge to the island harbour is to the left. Even in the 1970s there were few sidings in this area. The island section became the main line a long time ago and the Bluff township area a siding off it.

A little further east we come to the main railyards and some industrial sidings. These days practically everything is gone. 

Here we can see a shore-based wharf and a couple of industrial premises served by wagon turntables. These were once a popular way of getting into premises with a track and space saving layout, but fell from favour as longer and heavier wagons became more prevalent. The wharf was very interesting as there were no fewer than three separate tracks crossing between it and the shore, two of which can be seen in the black and white historical map. This was a necessity to connect up all the tracks in the tight space available, but these days, with no shipside tracks needed, the connecting lines and even some of the bridging has gone.

 Closeup views of the two sets of private sidings connected by wagon turntables. In the first photo we can see another track coming out of the front of one of the premises (far left) that appears to have been disconnected. The right hand premises in the same map is interesting as it was connected directly without a turntable.


Lastly we can see the end of the line where it went down to the tank farm and simply stopped adjacent to what was then the famed Fluteys Paua House. This area is known as "Bluff Township Siding".

Friday, 2 August 2019

Project Development Report [2019K]

This brief report is to update progress for 2019 so far as the year is now more than half over.

At the start of this year work was happening on the MNPL line which continued until the end of January and then work was switched onto the Main North Line, followed by the Kinleith Branch, North Auckland Line, then parts of the Main South Line around Dunedin. Then we had a look at Hamilton on the NIMT, followed by a significant chunk of the MSL within Canterbury. The next section to be looked at was the Cromwell Gorge.

At the start of June, work was begun on the Christchurch specific project in conjunction with some of the other areas that we support, and the Midland Line work was started towards the end of that month. Since then, work has alternated between Christchurch and the Midland Line.

It seems a good move right now to push ahead to complete Volume 9 for the Midland Line over the month of August, alternating with the Christchurch specific project as necessary. 

In terms of the overall project and its goal to have all 12 volumes completed at a basic level by the end of this year, that hasn't really fired, however neither has the alternative preference of completing any volume at all. We are now substituting an alternative schedule, which is to prioritise the South Island volumes of which we have six, to be completed first at whatever level seems appropriate, which will be more than basic. This includes revising Volume 7, the Nelson Section, with inline yard layouts and other detail using the aerial photography we previously obtained, which was put into an appendix at the end of the most recent edition of the printed volume.

However it is possible to work on the North Island maps by using WMTS to pull in live aerial layers of any area without the extensive work that is needed to download map layers for offline use, so using this to complete any area of the North Island to the Basic level that we proposed could make it happen a lot faster than has been the case to date. 

The priorities have shifted from first completing all of the maps to the Basic level in 2019, to completing as much as possible of the South Island at intermediate or comprehensive level before completing the Basic maps in the rest of the country. Some intermediate or comprehensive work of the North Island will continue throughout next year, especially for the Palmerston North Gisborne Line. Basic maps for North Island areas will also continue this year but we can't say how complete that will be by the end of 2019 at this stage.


Midland Line [0E]: Volume 9 Progress Report 5

This is a brief update on progress with Volume 9. Currently we have completed the route alignment as far as Otira and the details of the Otira yard tracks are being drawn in. A decision has been made to use the available aerial photography we have as far as Kotuku to draw layouts of all stations for which the photographs cover west of Otira.

Route alignment which consists of drawing tracks and station markers is one stage of the mapwork and the second stage after that is to put in bridges, tunnels and milepost markers where applicable. We expect to push on with route alignment towards Stillwater, Greymouth, Hokitika and Ross, although the last section is mostly done already, so there isn't a lot to be done in that respect.

Visits to Archives New Zealand over past and coming weeks will fill in in the details of the major yards of Stillwater, Greymouth, Hokitika and Ross in lieu of any available aerial photography. We hope this should enable Volume 9 to be completed by the end of August.

 The location of Bealey Bridge is an interesting question. Working Timetables and Kiwirail maps place it on the eastern end of the bridge as shown to the right corresponding to 68 miles 45 chains. However NZR file information shows the placement of the passenger stop at the western end of the bridge corresponding to 69 miles.

The other question is the location of Bealey Quarry and at this stage we are not confident of being able to determine that with our current level of research.
 Apart from the ballast siding at Waimakariri Bridge there was also one at Cora Lynn for a period probably around the 1940s which is likely to be the one with wagons in it shown above. This was not a source of high quality ballast and was only used for emergencies.
Another location where ballast was taken along the Midland Line was Sawmill Stream at approximately the location shown above. Probably this dates from the construction days and only one reference to it from 1923 has been found so far.