Friday, 8 February 2019

East Coast Main Trunk [2A]: Kinleith Branch 1

So last year I wrote some posts about Rotorua, specifically the old railway station in the middle of the city. I also wrote I didn't expect to do any more of the ECMT for a while. Well here I am nearly 8 weeks later writing about the ECMT again. This is because at the moment I am working on maps of the Kinleith Branch and Tokoroa.

Kinleith Branch is an interesting line with an interesting history. The first part from Morrinsville to Putaruru was originally the Rotorua Branch and opened in the 19th century. Then along came an outfit called the Taupo Totara Timber Co, and they built a bush tramway from Putaruru to Mokai, which is near Lake Taupo. This crossed the Waikato River on an interesting wooden suspension bridge, which was eventually replaced with a steel structure. The idea was that the government might later take over the tramway and convert it into a railway to Taupo. This never actually eventuated as such, but just after World War II, when the TTT was looking to close down its rail operation, the government did buy the full line and they reconstructed the first 30 km of it to become the Kinleith Branch from Putaruru to Kinleith, where a forestry mill was built that operates to this day. Tokoroa became the principal service town for the mill and has developed from a mere siding and industrial plant (not sure what for exactly) in the middle of bare land, into the sprawling metropolis that it is today. The other 52 km of TTT line was lifted and the bridge over the Waikato, which would have become submerged below the waters of hydro Lake Whakamaru was, we assume, dismantled.

Fast forward a little and with the opening of the East Coast Main Trunk itself to Taneatua in 1928, the inadequacis of the main line route via the Karangahake Gorge became apparent and pressure developed for an improved route to increase capacity. Thus the Kaimai Deviation was born and took shape in the 1970s. The new route, opened in 1978, joined the Rotorua Branch at Waharoa, resulting in the first part of the Branch becoming the main line, and at the same time, the Branch section from Waharoa to Putaruru was reincorporated into the Kinleith Branch, now 65 km in length. The Rotorua Branch origin was thus relocated to Putaruru and its length was reduced to 50 km.

What we know today is that the Kinleigh Branch over its last 30 km can be mapped against the TT Co route because full aerial photos were taken in 1944 of this first part of the route. This means I can use this coverage to be able to draw in where the line was deviated when it was adapted into a railway, and publish maps showing the old route. Unfortunately there are considerable gaps in TTT coverage south of Kinleith but parts can still be seen on some older aerial photos, and this will be incorporated into these maps wherever possible.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

NZ Rail Maps Project Direction/ Development Proposals 2019 [4]

This is a more in depth look at what we hope to see developed in the Project in 2019.

All of Volumes 1-12 will be developed to a Basic level. In addition the following content is planned to be developed to a Comprehensive level:
  • Volume 1: Selected stations in the Far North.
  • Volume 2: Auckland Central, Te Rapa/Hamilton, and the parts of Wellington already covered. No other plans at this stage, partly because of lack of Retrolens coverage of the Central North Island.
  • Volume 3: Selected stations on the Kinleith, Taneatua and Thames branches, and on the closed section between Paeroa and Apata.
  • Volume 4: No comprehensive development planned due to lack of Retrolens coverage in the area.
  • Volume 5: All stations between Napier and Gisborne, and selected stations in other parts of Hawkes Bay. Limited by lack of Retrolens coverage south of Ormondville.
  • Volume 6: Some areas of the Wairarapa already completed, which may be added to. Limited by lack of Manawatu coverage of Retrolens.
  • Volume 7: Some stations on the Nelson Section.
  • Volume 8: No comprehensive development planned due to lack of Retrolens coverage in the West Coast.
  • Volume 9: Comprehensive coverage of Otira, Arthurs Pass and selected stations on the Canterbury side. West Coast is limited by lack of Retrolens coverage.
  • Volume 10: Selected stations within Christchurch, North Canterbury, Waiau Branch, Picton and Marlborough.
  • Volume 11: Selected stations within Christchurch, Mid/South Canterbury, Methven and Springburn Branches, North Otago, Dunedin, Invercargill
  • Volume 12: All stations on the Otago Central Branch. Selected stations on the Kingston Branch and its branches.
That is a lot of work but I have left myself plenty of wriggle room by using the discretionary term "selected" to avoid getting too committed to particular locations.

Because work is going on in a number of different areas all at once, in addition to the regular diet of posts about specific stations or sections, a weekly progress report will also be written.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Main North Line [13A]: Glasnevin

Glasnevin was the station on the Main North Line that was located between Greneys Road and Waipara. Apart from the platform and building or shelter, there was a separate siding for the Amberley Lime Co and and for the ballast pit just north of the station. Just north of the pit, the highway used to cross over the railway line and go down to an old wooden single lane bridge across the Waipara River, upstream from the railway bridge. This was replaced with the present two lane concrete bridge about 1971/72. Like Greneys Road, Glasnevin was closed to the public in 1966. The date of the lime siding being closed is unknown to me at present, and when the ballast pit ceased to be used or the track, which is clearly visible on the aerial photo, was lifted, is also unknown.

The lime siding consisted of a facility for receiving lime loads from vehicles, which dumped into a pair of hoppers, from which it appears conveyors took the lime into a building or shelter under or in which rail wagons were loaded. The truck dumping facility with its two hoppers, made of concrete, is the part which can still be seen beside the railway track to this very day, the rail loading structure having been removed. The ballast pit remains clearly visible as it has not been filled in to any significant extent.

Lime loading facility remains seen in 2008 from the Coastal Pacific.
Glasnevin ballast pit which for many years was bare gravel but has in more recent times been dressed with soil and sown in pasture.

Here are the maps.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Main North Line [12A]: Greneys Road

Greneys Road was the first station north of Amberley on the Main North Line. It is shown here in 1961, by which time it apparently consisted of merely a platform and small building or shelter. With 2013 for comparison. The house immediately north of the station, with no apparent road access, may well have been a railway staff house.

Main North Line [0B]: Volume 10 Progress Report [1]

As part of the development work on various volumes, I am currently working to get a full set of maps of the Main North Line and mapping a few stations in North Canterbury. You can expect to see some maps soon of Amberley, Glasnevin, Waipara, Culverden and possibly some stations on the Waiau Branch, and places further north and south of Waipara, as opportunity permits.

So I have to get a full set of contemporary aerial photography. The tricky area is from Addington to Waipara, where I have to join together images from four different source layers. Firstly there is the 0.075 metre coverage of Christchurch City all the way up to the Waimakariri River. Then after that there is 0.3 metre rural coverage of North Canterbury, but also with Waimakariri District urban coverage of Kaiapoi and Rangiora at 0.075 metres, and Hurunui District urban coverage of Amberley and Waipara at 0.125 metres. And of course to add complexity the powers that be have created aerial tiles that have thick black borders in inconvenient places around the edges, which means I have to make up bridge tiles by bringing in the lower res surrounding stuff and scaling it to a larger size and then masking out the black bits. Since these areas are generally around railway stations, the mosaic for removing the black edges will be combined with historical overlays. Because I have discovered the 0.125 metre coverage of Waipara, I am redoing the mosaic that I already had for this station to take advantage of the better resolution which will improve the official NZR survey historical aerials, just like I have done in other areas. 

0.125 metre coverage of Waipara in a GIMP project with 0.3 metre imagery added top and bottom to remove the most critical black edges. The 0.125 metre tiles will be exported and used as base imagery in place of the ones from Linz.

I have created a mosaic for Amberley with the 0.125 metre imagery and overlaying historical aerial images from 1961, 1976 and 1986. It now needs to have the 0.3 metre contemporary imagery put around the edges of the 0.125 metre images to achieve the same outcome as shown above for Waipara.

Amberley seen in 1961 with the earlier (and larger) station and goods shed. By the time I came to know Amberley in the mid-1980s both buildings had been replaced with much smaller ones.

Glasnevin is another station of interest between Amberley and Waipara as it was still open in 1961 when aerial photos from the same series used for the above are available (as was Greneys Road just south of Glasnevin). There was a lime loading siding and ballast pit there which were still in use at that time. The remains of both are extant today.

The Waiau Branch has been looked at lately as well and Culverden in particular has good quality coverage and maps have been drawn and are just waiting to be blogged. Of course I posted stuff for Rotherham fairly recently. We will have to see what we can achieve with some of the other stations that have limited coverage. Hundalee is another North Canterbury station I have mapped recently.

Once north of Waipara the same 0.3 metre rural aerial photos are needed to get us as far as Parnassus. From there all the way up to Ward we have continuous good quality aerial imagery from the recent quakes but with obvious issues with track movement in places so I am not sure if it will be totally useful or whether I need to use the existing coverage as a backup. Then from there, is Marlborough rural aerial stuff, and I hope there will also be coverage at higher resolutions for places like Picton, Blenheim and Kaikoura.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

North Island Main Trunk [0A], North Auckland Line [0A]: Progress Report 1

In accordance with the intention to develop all volumes this year, I am starting work on creating Volumes 1 and 2 today. Volume 1 covers the North Auckland Line and its branches, which is everything past Newmarket in Auckland. This means basically all the railways in Northland.

Volume 2 is the North Island Main Trunk, which is from Wellington to Auckland. This includes the railways in Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton, Auckland and a number of other centres. The NIMT part is needed to finish Volume 4 where the SOL joins onto the NIMT.

I am currently downloading Auckland City aerial photography from 2017 at 0.075 metre resolution. This will take around 40 GB of downloaded imagery but the amount actually needed to cover the rail network of Auckland will be considerably less. At this resolution it is only for modern coverage. Anything that is an aerial mosaic should use the separately downloaded older 0.125 resolution coverage to reduce the number of tiles needed to cover a station area. However no mosaics are planned but I may do one of Auckland's Strand station sometime soon, especially if there is official NZR survey coverage for it. Likewise I may do one of Frankton and/or Te Rapa. I have already done a number of Wellington so these can be added in to the Volume 2 stuff. PN is not possible as no Retrolens images have yet been released for Horizons RC. The rest of the NIMT will undoubtedly be lower resolution probably 0.3 to 0.4 metres. Although Volume 2 was created last year I have only done a bit of Wellington so far.

It would have been interesting to have had georeferenced aerial photography of Auckland from mid 2000s for comparison of the double tracking and other improvements but that isn't possible unfortunately.

Northland coverage comes to 0.4 metres dated 2014-16 for the whole region as well as some 0.1 metres of a few small areas. The 0.4 stuff will be adequate but does not really have the sharpness needed for tracing the current rail lines. It's a pity they do not have 0.3 metres but I guess that is the reality of a less populated area. The 0.1 stuff should cover Whangarei and one or two other urban areas well enough.