Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Project Development Report [2019J]

Currently I am in the position of reviewing the earlier PDRs of this year and as it is now the middle of the year, considering the best way of advancing the project for the rest of 2019. At the moment there is somewhat of a perception of low productivity more recently, and of having too many unfinished projects on the go at the moment.

At the end of January I looked at what it would take to have all 12 volumes completed at a "Basic" level by the end of 2019. But so far in the first half of the year, there hasn't been much work focused on a basic level completion, with the majority of time spent on "Comprehensive" level, and whilst there has been a lot done at that level, the goal of getting "Basic" levels advanced across all 12 volumes hasn't actually been achieved much at all.

At the same time I have other interests, including new ones that have been developed in the last few months, mainly to do with rail history and activism at a more local level, and whilst it's hard to see where these will go over coming months, it means I have to re evaluate my priorities and look at what can be achieved with the resources I have.Lately more time has been spent developing maps to support these local priorities, and whilst these maps have been part of the bigger scheme, they are being developed at Comprehensive level and will always take priority over any other region of maps production.

The PDR 2019D from earlier this year suggested a timeframe for development of the project with the Comprehensive coverage that might be achieved in addition to full Basic coverage. The main issue is that Basic coverage is not being progressed for a significant number of volumes. This involves getting a full set of recent best available Linz aerial coverage for every centimetre of every volume and then tracing whatever is on it and filling in other details from other current resources. To date whilst a significant amount of aerial coverage has been downloaded from Linz, it has not been imported into map projects and the disk space needed to store these large volumes of downloads (of which only a fraction will be used and it will be stored in another location) is significant.

It is therefore necessary to switch the focus back towards Basic completion in order to free up some disk space for Comprehensive level mosaic work to continue. At the same time I have to take a closer look at the level of Comprehensive coverage that can be realistically completed. Whereas in the past the widespread availability of aerial coverage of a reasonable quality at multiple generations for some areas led me to try to document all the changes in multiple generations, this takes a lot of work to achieve. Because Retrolens is making available NZR station and corridor surveys, I intend for the majority of yards to document the track layout based mainly on these surveys, even where other surveys are available that can document a track layout change. Building/structure layout will try to incorporate changes in major buildings or structures but if at all possible at one all-encompassing generation instead of multiples. So in terms of historical layouts, most of it will be referenced to when NZR official surveys were produced, which for most yards is around the 1970s or 1980s, the goal being to have as much as possible prior to deregulation in 1981 which had a major impact on the railway landscape across the country.

Right now priority is still with Christchurch maps and the mosaics are making major steps forward and there will be tiles produced this week for a lot of stuff. However it is necessary to progress Basic level development across all 12 volumes and so this will be the secondary priority but will be pushed ahead more than it has in the last few months to attempt to get the schedule back on track to where it was intended six months ago.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

MSL Lyttelton-Rolleston [2A]: Ferrymead Heritage Park

This week development continues on the MSL maps for Greater Christchurch. It has been determined that the maps for Greater Christchurch will cover four directions from the centre of the city, namely:
  • Main South Line to Lyttelton
  • Main South Line to Rolleston
  • Main North Line to Rangiora
  • Hornby Industrial Line to Lincoln
Work is ongoing to add all of the covered areas to the map, particularly those outside the Christchurch City aerial layer coverage. This means that for Templeton-Rolleston, Prebbleton-Lincoln and Kaiapoi-Rangiora, additional high resolution aerial photo layers have had to be sourced and these are being added to the Christchurch project.

In respect of Lyttelton-Rolleston we have continued working on the historical map tile mosaics this week, focusing particularly on the mosaic project that covers the section from Heathcote to Christchurch. Aerial photos from official NZR surveys from the 1970s have made up most of what has been put into the mosaics this week. We are still working on this project with a few more layers to be added; we have the following at the moment:
  • Heathcote has no official station survey, but a third party survey from 1970 and the NZR corridor survey from 1985 have proved useful.
  • Ferrymead is covered by third party surveys from 1958, 1970 and 1984 (part), and by the NZR corridor survey from 1985 (part).
  • Woolston has the NZR station surveys for 1974 and 1981, and third party for 1950. Oddly, we can't find the NZR corridor survey images (1985) for this station.
  • Linwood and Opawa are covered by NZR station survey for 1970, by part of the NZR 1981 station survey, and partly by the 1985 NZR corridor survey (some images in this series seem to be missing - 8380-B-x in particular)
  • Waltham by 1940, 1950 and 1961 third party, 1970 and 1981 NZR station, 1985 NZR corridor. 
  • Christchurch by the same range as shown above for Waltham. There is a possibility of adding a mid 1990s survey as well in order to show the major changes in the yard site at that time.
All of the area from Christchurch through to Opawa was covered in one single survey with three runs, which also covers Middleton and Addington (Survey No. 2345 of 1970). After that, we discovered a NZR survey for Woolston (2376 of 1974) which we had not known about previously. Also the NZR corridor survey of 1985 which started from Lyttelton has added good coverage of part of Ferrymead, but the part of this survey that should cover Woolston appears to be missing (Survey 8380, of which run B appears to be missing).The mosaic project for dealing with this section is one of the largest we have worked on for a while, and the down time earlier in the week to fit a larger SSD giving more virtual memory space for the Gimp tile cache has been definitely worthwhile except that we hope the file which ballooned by 10 GB in one generation will not grow as fast in the next few days while we finish adding layers.

The next three images are of Ferrymead Heritage Park site over a 27 year period starting from its early days and carrying through to about the time I first became involved with the Ferrymead Railway.

Ferrymead 1958. It was then just a dairy farm. Interest was developing around that time, and the 100th anniversary of the opening, in 1963, was the catalyst for the development of the present day park complex. Note in particular the shape of Truscotts Road, with its curious dogleg that went inside the park site and came out again through what is now Gate A.
Ferrymead 1970. Development of the site advanced considerably in the second half of the 1960s. By this time Truscotts Road had been straightened to bypass the park boundary at Gate A. A lot of filling and construction work is happening across the site. Truscotts Road at this time was still the main access for the Heathcote County rubbish dump at Wood Hill.
Ferrymead 1985, about the time I first became involved. The main village site has been heavily developed with numerous buildings in place, the aeronautical society's Viscount and one of their buildings is up, the railway's workshop, running shed and carriage/electric shed are in place, along with some of the buildings in the Ferrymead Trust storage and workshop site on the far side of the railway line. It was around this time that the Heathcote County dump was closed to the public, but was still open for approved commercial loads.

At the moment we don't have complete coverage of the other end of Ferrymead throughout the same period but this will be added to the mosaics shortly.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

MSL Lyttelton-Rolleston [1G]: Suburban Passenger Terminal Proposals

There are proposals afoot currently to establish a suburban passenger service between Christchurch and Rolleston, which the NZ Government has provisionally allocated $100 million to develop. This would require a train terminal in a more suitable location than the present long distance train station at Addington.

This week I have spent most of my time looking at a couple of options for putting a transport interchange near the Colombo Street - Moorhouse Ave corner.

This is a simple artist's concept for a small passenger terminal with 2 platforms for suburban passenger trains at Pilgrim Place. It proposes that a bus interchange would be built on the Moorhouse Ave frontage of this site, replacing the present CBD bus interchange on the Colombo St / Lichfield St corner.

Since there is another possible site that may be more suitable almost next door to this site at Cass Street, this idea has not been further developed at the moment.

This is an artist's concept for a proposed transport interchange on the Colombo Street / Moorhouse Avenue corner. It provides for long distance / excursion trains with longer platforms and shorter suburban platforms. A bus interchange is assumed to be possible on the Moorhouse Avenue frontage and to provide for a reinstated CBD shuttle bus.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Project Diary 2019-06-02

In the past week there have been two main areas of work in this project. The first area is the Christchurch City maps referred to in a previous diary entry. It has been decided to combine existing maps of the city created for non-rail purposes with the existing rail maps data drawn for the city, which means there will be a combined Volume 10 and Volume 11 Qgis project that covers only Christchurch. To make things easier this project will share the existing Volume 10 and 11 layers with the rest of those volumes existing projects and will not have separate layers except for the aerial photos that are not of rail corridors or yards. At the same time the existing Volume 10 and Volume 11 projects will have all aerial photography removed that is inside the boundaries of the city.

The other area is the NZ Rail Maps website on Wordpress.com. This currently is accessed by the address http://nzrailmaps.wordpress.com . It will generally be known that the project also uses the domain name nzrailmaps.nz which currently redirects to a Trainweb site for historical reasons. Given the length of time that the Trainweb site has not been used for the project, it is likely the redirection will be changed soon to point directly to the Wordpress site. However there is no intention for the present to change the site URL to nzrailmaps.nz as this requires a paid Wordpress hosting plan. The other change has been driven by the decision that the Wordpress site has enough free space to host the map volume PDF files, which means they can be removed off Scribd thus reducing the number of external sites used to host project content. However the free version of Wordpress is not conducive to hosting the map tiles which are best to remain as Google Photos albums for the time being. Generally we are well behind in publishing completed project content and this needs to be put together and put on the site as more of a priority in future.

It is hoped that the computer used to do the map mosaic tiles will get a bigger SSD soon to enable it to deal with very large project files more easily, or to be able to have two 100-layer projects open at the same time.