Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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

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

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

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

Friday, 14 February 2020

NZ Rail Maps Project Development Report [2020C]

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

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

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

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

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

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0Z]: Volume 5 Progress Update 26

So we delayed this until release time. We are pleased to announce that Volume 5 has released. As the legendary Steve Jobs once said, "Real Artists Ship". Being able to release a fully completed volume is a big milestone for this project in its current form. Although we have previously produced some printed volumes of maps, they were neither as comprehensive nor as detailed as this new release, which is the first major release that incorporates both historical and current aerial photography based maps as well as diagram maps together in a format that is specifically designed for use on handheld devices. It is also, naturally, a big deal after spending many years working on this project, to actually embark on the first step of a journey that should see every single map, of which there will likely be an estimated 10,000 in total, released in 2020. 

(To see the maps, scroll right to the bottom of this post for the link)

"Real Artists Ship" is a concept that addresses that a great many people start projects like this but never complete them. Our experience in the historical community in general is that many people have begun projects of historical research that have not resulted in a finished publication. This is likely reflective of the fact that such projects are extremely time consuming and for example, a publication may require many years of intensive research to complete for an output of perhaps a hundred pages or two. This knowledge has in turn informed the development of this project and the determination of the amount of external research that can or should be undertaken. This has been extensively streamlined with the assistance of Archives New Zealand to enable us to access a large number of historical NZ Railways files in a short time frame. Apart from that external resource access, we are proud of the fact that 99% of the remaining work of the project has been carried out from home. Releasing the finished project for public access is a great personal highlight and our timeframe for completion in 2020 reflects on the fact that we expect our personal resources will be shifted elsewhere after that time as we have been hard at work on NZ Rail Maps for the past 12 years exactly (one year for each volume on average) and it has to be completed sometime to enable us to move on to other challenges in life. 

"Real Artists Ship" is also an appropriate concept for the fact that these maps are, in fact, artistic creations and reflect our own creative interests and experiences, The published map format and the contents of each individual map are carefully handcrafted with all the detail designed using the map symbology which is listed in the key for each map.  Although the Qgis layout composer outputs the information stored in the GIS database more or less in a standardised way, each map still has to be checked to ensure it is legible and contains all of the useful information that people are likely to want to make use of with the maps. This is one of the reasons why during production we changed the map formats several times in order to present the maps in a way that makes it easier for us to speed up the production of them considerably due to the many challenges in integrating information from other sources such as the Retrolens historical aerial photos and the Linz Data Service downloadable layers. We expect to be able to speed up the production substantially in the other 11 volumes of the maps. The maps themselves are not as information dense as some other publications such as the Quail Atlas, which incorporate extensive hand customisation of the content of every single page. We could not produce such a large volume of maps if every single page had to be hand edited to change the positions of items or add specific notes or tables of information for just that page. The key reason there is such a large volume of maps overall is a design decision taken that in order to give access to as much information about the history of the New Zealand railway network as is reasonably practical, the maps will not have a scale smaller than 1:10000 in the online format and that many of the maps of individual railway yards and where necessary elsewhere in a particular corridor will be published at scales as large as 1:1000. Being able to publish the maps free of charge via the Google Photos cloud storage system is a big factor as well in being able to put a large number of maps into each volume.

To emphasise how valuable the new maps format is, we have previously commented that it is not financially possible to create a mapping website that provides the same kind of functionality that people can use in Google Maps or even Open Street Maps these days, especially on phones and tablets. And whilst there is something in existence called Open Historical Maps, and we have considered publishing to it as a platform, it still does not offer all of the functionality that is being made available in the format we are publishing in.

So if we cannot publish a full web based map service comparable with other web based map services, the next best thing we can do is to produce static maps in a form that makes it easy to navigate quickly between maps as one is actually travelling along a particular route, whether on a train or by road nearby. This became a desirable capability arising out of a journey by road / sea from Christchurch to Gisborne around 18 months ago and it is appropriate therefore that the map volume for the main line to Gisborne and its various branches is the first to be completed. 

Whilst there are obvious limitations in the format we have implemented, which uses Google Photos to provide the map storage and the user interface, we expect end users to make use of other online maps in conjunction with our map volumes which have in them sufficient geographical information to enable a particular location depicted on a map to be easily located. Whilst it is obvious zooming in and out is not possible as in the Google Maps website, this in fact requires massive resources to produce and implement such as Google's own enormous collection of aerial photography taken by their own satellites and running in their massive world wide data center cloud so on that basis it is easy to understand why it is difficult for us to duplicate that kind of functionality. Whilst Open Street Maps is able to provide zoomable maps, they are only diagrammatic without any aerial photography which uses the most physical resources and costs the most to implement.

It is enough of an achievement for us to be able to generate these maps on purely a non commercial basis with very little money actually having been spent, mostly being a few hundred dollars on some of the early aerial photo scans (prior to the Retrolens site being established) and the web hosting for the nzrailmaps.nz domain name, which redirects to our free Wordpress site. Obviously there are day to day costs such as travel and accommodation in Dunedin to research the Otago Central Line and travel to Archives New Zealand's Christchurch office to research various railway lines in Canterbury. This project definitely could not have happened in its current form without either the free and open source Qgis software, or the freely available resources from or via Linz (the downloable data layers and contemporary aerial photography from the Linz Data Service website and the historical Retrolens aerial photography, which includes many surveys that were specifically undertaken for New Zealand Railways that are of a very high resolution). Another incidental expense for us has been around $2000 spent on our computer hardware over the last few years to have the processing capability and storage needed to assemble all the map resources. Free internet from our local community has also been very material. Of equal significance but perhaps less map specific has been the availability of the Linux operating system as Windows would have driven us crazy by now and it would have cost us unnecessary hundreds of additional dollars in license costs. Regardless of whatever personal prejudice or preference you may have over operating systems, it is a fact that Linux is used on many of the world's most powerful supercomputers and also on many lightweight low cost computers and its reputation as being highly capable for a wide range of different tasks is well earned. And need we mention it is also free and open source software? Because it is free we have not had to spend a single cent on any software for the project.

Volume 5 contains just over 1000 individual maps in six individual sets (photo albums). Each of these maps was individually created and checked visually from the GIS software and there have been numerous revisions and updates to produce the finished product. This can be appreciated by looking at the range of production dates and times that appear on the bottom left edge of each map, which in general show a range of about one month, from early January up to today. We are aware of a small number of issues with the maps that are now available and will be correcting these, but as far as we know the maps in each album are both complete and accurate. We have taken the opportunity to assemble map sets that contain both aerial and diagram maps in the correct sequence in the same set which required custom Python scripting to be developed alongside the production of the maps themselves. The user interface of Google Photos has its challenges at times, but it is fully capable of uploading the maps and assembling them into the correct order with the use of our scripting capability even when the maps are uploaded out of sequence and in a number of partial uploads. Thus it has been relatively easy to deal with instances of some individual maps failing to upload and having to be re-uploaded out of sequence. We now, however, need to develop a script to enable an individual map to be replaced, which involves copying the file modification time from the original version on the computer to its replacement and then uploading the replacement and deleting the original. This will be undertaken and tested over the next few days as the very first map in the PNGL Main Line set has an incorrect title and needs to be replaced. We also need to come up with a way to make the map key have an earlier file modification time than anything else in our Google Photos site so that the key will always appear at the top of every album set, even though it is shared across every album from one single source.

As we have previously stated, we are now ourselves going to take a few days' break to recuperate from what has been an intense few days of very hard work to reach this milestone. We are already planning the work on the next volume but it will not ramp up to a full pace until next week and we have to take a very good look at an appropriate time schedule for it to ensure we stay on track with our expected timeline for publishing the rest of the maps this year.

It is appropriate to make some acknowledgements here and hence below is a partial list. This list is in addition to the individual contributors who are partially acknowledged in the previously released printed map volume, and it is a list for the entire project.
  • God, the Holy Spirit and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who guide our overall direction of life and provide ever present and inexhaustible support for everything we do.
  • NZ Rail Heritage Community Online Signalling & Interlocking Diagram Database
  • Archives New Zealand, National Library, and DigitalNZ website.
  • Linz Data Service
  • Local Government Geospatial Alliance (Retrolens Site - hosted by Abley NZ)
  • Chat Club Facebook Community
  • Campaign for Better Transport Online Community
  • NZ Rail Geography Online Community
  • Railway Historical Group, NZ Railfans, New Zealand Locomotives and Locomotives of New Zealand Facebook Communities
  • Watts Publications / Steve Watts
  • NZ Railway and Tramway Atlas / Quail Map Co.
  • NZ Railway and Locomotive Society
  • Public Transport Users Association NZ (particularly Canterbury branch)
  • Canterbury Railway Society
  • Hillview Christian School
  • C3 Church Christchurch
  • Qgis Software Development Community
  • Kiwirail Ltd
  • Rail Heritage Trust

Volume 5 Home Page - NZ Rail Maps Wordpress Site

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0Y]: Volume 5 Progress Update 25

Welcome to another PNGL Volume 5 progress update. Hopefully the next one will tell you the volume has been published.

The main progress that has been done since last time is we have added aerial photo generations to the Napier maps. So we have historical aerial mosaic tiles for 1951, 1973, 1983 and 1996.

We have also been busy checking the alignments of the main line sections around Napier because these affected the Ahuriri Branch - the main line of this branch was realigned a number of times over the years - as well as the PNGL which in particular was relocated in 1990 between Ahuriri Junction and Westshore to make way for the present motorway.

When we started doing Napier a couple of years ago, at that time, we only covered the station and only for 1973. The recent additions are for 1973 all the way up to the Westshore bridge and part of the Port line as well, 1983 all up the same section of main line as well as Napier Station, and 1951 and 1996 the same. We have not added extra coverage of the Port (Ahuriri) line, and as noted in our last update, we will not be making major changes to the existing Diagrams around Napier. This is largely to save time. Since we changed the Aerial map formats to display less detail, it gives us more leeway to bring in extra generations without worrying too much about how they all line up together. It may well be the case in future maps that this allows us to create this historical content more rapidly than in the past and this would be a great benefit to the development of maps in general.

So anyway we are working hard to complete at the moment and will push on, still hope to complete as much as possible of the maps in what is left of today and if not well then top priority to finish tomorrow or at the latest Monday but we think it will happen by the end of the weekend.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0X]: Volume 5 Progress Update 24

Welcome to the Volume 5 Progress Update 24. We are moving on steadily with our plan to publish the full volume online not later than tomorrow, Saturday 8 February, 2019 and things are working to schedule.

The last couple of days have been spent expanding the historical aerial coverage of Napier to what can be reasonably achieved in the time available. This screenshot shows a part of we now have to look at which we are working on updating our maps from.

The view of Napier in the GIS.

We discovered that we can get a full NZR "station" survey set of Napier in 1973, including all the way up into Ahuriri and even the south end of the Westshore bridge, except for the Port area which has a full NZR "station" survey set from 1970. However you'll see there is no coverage of the wharves in the top right corner. The reason for this is it was becoming too difficult to overlay the historical aerial photos onto the current layout of Napier Port because in 50 years it has changed so much. As the main historical features are the tracks on the wharves, which can actually be traced anyway for the most part off current aerial photography because they are still there, we felt it was not worth the extra work to produce the historical mosaics for the port area.

This also means where the 1973 imagery joins to the 1970 imagery, only one actual 1970 image has had to be used so the changes at that junction will hopefully not be too much of an issue. There is one other place where an aerial image from a different era is used and that is the coverage of the Robert Holt siding (the premises are in Angus Place and the siding is distinctive because it includes a bridge). Here we were able to locate an image from the NZR corridor survey from 1983 that covers the whole siding. This siding used part of the original main line route between the Ahuriri junction and the Westshore bridge after the main line was diverted in 1990 to make way for a future motorway. This section of the track is actually still in place. The rest of the siding is also still in place up to the first bridge except for where the motorway has been built through, which must have seen it lifted (it actually did cross the road before it was turned into a motorway).

We do not have time to show any other era of Napier (for example, 1983 from the corridor survey for the main line only is a possibility, as are earlier eras from non-NZR coverage), so it will be represented as just 1973 in the maps although as mentioned, it is mostly 1973 with one small part of the yard at the Port in 1970 and one siding in 1983.

So having this coverage now in the GIS, we will see how much time we have to add a few extra tracks etc to the diagram, but it has to be done pretty quickly as not much time is available before deadline.

We have also confirmed the use of aerial photos for the other areas that they were already drawn up for. These are Terrace End (Palmerston North), Woodville, Dannevirke (including Tapuata),  Marakeke and Waipukurau.  Again we will check what is shown on the diagrams to see if we have enough time to add any extra features that are not there already.

The big plus is that having already generated a full set of maps for the corridor two weeks ago, we just have to add in a few extras here and there to the existing set, so actually completing is a much smaller task than it would be if we had waited until finishing all these changes and then pushing out the full set of maps from scratch. At the moment there are 279 diagrams and 408 aerials. The base set of maps are the diagrams with one diagram for each physical aerial covered that combines all historical eras into one. The aerials file names all use the sequence number for the same area that the diagram with the same sequence number uses (from 001 to 279 in this instance) but with suffixes which are generally the year that the aerial covers, so for example you have D023 covering part of Woodville and then you have A023-1946, A023-1962, A023-1972, A023-1983 and A023-2015 covering five historical eras of aerial photography. 

For most of the maps there would be in this example only A023 which would be the current aerial photography for the area, which in practice is a range of dates we have not tracked due to using a global WMTS layer for the whole of NZ that LINZ makes available. In some areas we don't use this global layer, instead we have manually selected a particular WMTS layer for that particular area. Having the use of the WMTS layers has removed from us the requirement to download all the aerial photography for the entire corridor which speeds things up a lot, but we do still have to download areas that we need to create historical mosaics for, in order to lay everything out in Gimp. So for example Napier, we downloaded 3.9 GB of tiles at 0.1m resolution the other day, which when opened up in the Zip file for extraction contained 373 actual tiles, and we needed 60 to cover the area we were working on. In practice, a few were able to be taken out again later or were not needed, so that we can save a little bit of disk space for the Gimp project file because all the mosaics we have created so far for the maps across all of NZ use a huge amount of disk storage, well over 1 TB.

Once there is some time an article about Napier itself and possibly articles for some other areas may well be published - for the last two weeks we have only produced these progress reports.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0W]: Volume 5 Progress Update 23

Yesterday we wrote about how important it was to stay on track and meet a deadline. Today we are tossing up how much flexibility we can have to meet a deadline and still be able to squeeze some more content into the maps before they are published.

Recently the map format was changed so that diagram maps show the most detail and aerial maps show only a subset of detail. Specifically the following is only found on diagram maps: non-rail corridors, roads, sidings, buildings, structures, sites, voids, land data, water and terrain. All maps display distance-based locations, bridges, tunnels, features and main lines. Aerial maps omit all the diagram information except that roads are indicated only by their name.

Because of this we do have the ability to increase the number of aerial maps displayed without checking over all the detail that is in them, since much of that detail will not be displayed on them. Because of the flexibility that offers to add more aerial maps without having to draw in the extra detail that is in them, we can add in more historical aerials without having to update the information in the GIS.

The result is we are juggling to see if we can squeeze in a few more aerial maps into the published map set without updating the diagrams so that we can cover a bit more, for example Napier, and in some of the other areas where we have added some aerials that haven't been fully checked over because of lack of time. 

Regardless however there is still an absolute deadline for publication which is going to be Saturday 8th February, the maps will be going online at that point regardless.

It means you may still see some historical maps of Dannevirke for example but the information in the diagrams in particular may not fully reflect what is in the aerial maps. We will strive to be as complete as possible but some information may be omitted, this is always a possibility and unavoidable at any time. We are prioritising fixing a few issues with historical aerial mosaics and at the same time looking to add a bit more into some of them, which leaves some possibility to add some more of Napier with a little work but without spending the time going over every square inch of them to check all the details in them. That means in practice, we are not marking in the names of the individual sidings in Napier as we have elsewhere (Gisborne for example) but have still made a reasonable effort to include as much historical detail about the area as we can achieve in our limited time frame.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0V]: Volume 5 Progress Update 22

So here is the latest progress report on completing Volume 5, Palmerston North Gisborne Line, of NZ Rail Maps.

When we started to work on this late last year we set a deadline for completion which we thought would be the end of January. As we can see this is the first week of February and the maps are still not ready.

The really important thing to us is to stick to the schedule because we want all 12 volumes released to some level this year and whilst we are only a few days past deadline, we are really keen to get this volume released and move on to the next one.

Today we have been looking at maps of Napier trying to get some detail finished and added to the maps and it may well be asked why there isn't more of Napier mapped than just the main station, given how much time has been spent on Gisborne and a few other smaller stations.

The reality is that Gisborne has a special interest for us, but we realise also there would need to be more mapping done in the future in some of these other areas.

Whilst it would be very desirable to put in more of Napier, or for that matter Hastings, and while there are a lot of NZR surveys available, we have to push on and release this volume.

We have decided as of today that the maps are just going to be finished as they are right now, without any more delays. So no further changes will be made, not even with the extra historical tiles for Dannevirke or the other stations that were completed. There is to be some tidying up in a few areas and that's all. The rest of today will be spent on checking all of the maps that have been produced so far for any tidying up needed, and the existing maps will be refreshed if that is the case, but no new detail is going to be added from here on in, all work will be done with what we already have available in the GIS for production.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0U]: Volume 5 Progress Update 21

Today's big achievement has been to solve a software reliability issue which had caused the completion work to grind to nearly a halt and resulted in the work of creating the Ngatapa and Matawai-Wairata map sets to be stalled for a few days. We achieved this by using a virtual machine to install an older software version running on Debian 9. This means the project is now much more back on track, though it is still behind and will be about two weeks late by the time this volume is finally finished. This means possibly the subsequent volumes will have to be cut back in scope to resume the required pace of work, so Volume 6 might not get any additional Comprehensive coverage over that completed in the Wellington area, and Volume 4 over that completed in the Whanganui area. However if the pace of completing those two which are the next volumes in the schedule goes well, additional coverage could be provided for them.

Regardless of the delays and extensions to the Volume 5 production schedule, we still need a week of downtime as soon as Volume 5 is released. We have today completed the 2017 updates to maps between Gisborne and Makaraka using the 0.1 metre urban imagery to replace either 2012 0.125 imagery or 2017 0.3m imagery. This is the maximum extent to which we are updating 2012 0.125m imagery.

The other work completed today has been the new aerial images around Beach Loop (covering 1942, 1962 and 1986) and adding the boulder pit siding at Maraetaha. This completes the planned extent of updates between Westshore and Gisborne. This means we can now move rapidly down to Napier to complete some siding labelling around the Port but no additional aerial images will be added. From here on in, the focus is using the current aerial imagery (current or historic) that we already have and doing final checking for completeness against other data sources and no new historical imagery will be put into the maps.

Boulder Pit Siding near Maraetaha. The dates when it was in operation being unknown at this time.

Service Siding controlled by switchlock 22478 as shown in S&I DIagram No. 1276 of 1968. The number of service sidings in the area which were invariably of a short term nature (there is no trace of this one today, nor the one off switchlock 21845 between Paritu and Beach Loop) suggests a considerable number of them were built as track diversions to deal with washouts and slumps. This is another illustration of how difficult this section of the PNGL has been to keep open.

These maps around the extinct Tunnel 24 show two route changes: T24 itself, and another one made at the site of a current washout just a little south of the tunnel. The map shows as "Closed" the original route the line took in 1942, which at some later time was diverted. It seems highly likely the diversion line that was pushed on a curved route up the hill became the permanent route, allowing for what was probably a slump or washout below to be stabilised to protect the new embankment. As the 2017 imagery shows, there is a washout in this location that has undermined the current track.

Tunnel 24 original route and diversion. The aerial photo at the top was taken in 1942 during construction of the line and shows this tunnel as it was built at the time. It was only in use for around 13 years.

Beach Loop itself. The black and white aerial is from 1986. The track layout consists of a loop with a backshunt at the south end. The station was often in use for stabling work trains due to the intensive needs of maintenance in the area, and was also provided with water vats in the steam days. Beach Loop was originally called No.2 Crossing Loop and was never open for any type of public traffic. The earliest S&I diagram for the area is No.590 for Waikokopu-Gisborne issued 1943, but which we do not presently have access to. It is unclear if local signals of any type were provided at Beach Loop but in 1968 the points at either end off the main line were shown as frame lever points without switchlocks, which was consistent with the way that main line points were labelled on other stations in the area, which generally had an L light on the automatic signals at each end. Switchlocks at that time were limited to isolated sidings between stations (service sidings, boulder pit etc). This seems to have been the norm for stations in the Whareratas area until TWC was introduced and they were all changed to the type of points controls typically seen in such area (TW lever lock).

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0T]: Volume 5 Progress Update 20

Since the last update we completed maps around Beach Loop. These include: 1942, the original route at T 24; 1962, a service siding around a washout at 225 miles; and 1986, the track layout at BL. Since then, we discovered the more of the S&I diagram No. 1276 which covers Paritu to Muriwai from 1968. The extra detail of interest is a service siding at 216.56 miles (Tikiwhata, or around 350 km, or about 0.5 km north of Wharerata Walkway Station), however aerial photos around that timeframe show no trace of it. There were probably many of these sidings over the years to fix problems such as slumps and washouts.

The features that will be able to be shown, apart from the 225 mile washout, include the Maraetaha boulder pit siding which was less than a mile north of the station. We will not do aerial photo maps of this one but just trace it roughly on the ground.

The major work completed today was to generate mapsets for Matawai-Wairata survey and the Ngatapa Branch. Progress on these was slowed considerably by software issues that have taken all day to overcome and within these sets you will still see an occasional gap in the aerial maps where for some reason the full set of tiles has not completely loaded off Linz's WMTS server.

So we have made progress albeit slow and whilst acknowledging being a bit behind on delivery, we are continuing to press on and still very much looking forward to getting down to Napier ASAP.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0S]: Volume 5 Progress Update 19

We have now completed all the maps around Gisborne and posted a proof set for Westshore-Gisborne. However we have just discovered that 0.1 metre 2017 aerial photography exists for Gisborne (a considerable update on 2012) despite it having been available on LDS for more than 12 months. This will be added into the maps and the 2012 images supplemented by 2017 for all areas which already have a 2012 view. Using it will not slow things down materially.

We have also decided at the last minute to add historical pictures of Beach Loop to the maps and these should be ready tomorrow. These will use the older 2012 0.4 metre Linz aerials as a base rather than the 2017 0.3 metre aerials because in 2012 the railway had only recently closed and the tracks were still visible, in the latest imagery the railway is practically invisible because of undergrowth.

We still have to get a set of maps generated for the Ngatapa Branch and the Matawai-Waioeka survey to complete everything around Gisborne. This will probably happen tomorrow as well.

Apart from that then we should be moving rapidly south to Napier, tomorrow, to tidy up around there, then pushing back towards Palmerston North.

So the timetable looks good at the moment, but it will be a busy few days, and the deadline is going to be missed by a day or two, but that is OK.

The Kopuawhara disaster memorial seen from above (1986).

The siding built to deal with this washout at c.365.5 km is shown in the 1968 S&I diagram (No. 1276) as a switchlocked service siding (22478). This aerial photo was taken in 1962 as part of a highway survey.

We believe this is the as-constructed Tunnel 24, seen in 1942. The hillside around it kept slipping with the result  the tunnel had to be abandoned in 1956 after only 14 years of operation.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [4E]: Makaraka, Matawhero & Muriwai [5]: Muriwai Station & Waipaoa River Bridge

This will be our last article about stations in the Gisborne area other than Gisborne itself. We will put up a new post about Gisborne sometime soon, our last post on that station was just over a year ago.

Anyway, Muriwai heading south from Gisborne is the last station on the plains before the railway begins to climb into the Wharerata Hills. It is currently remaining open as the terminus of the Gisborne City Vintage Railway vintage steam trains, which have operated for many years on the line, but since 2012 have been terminating at Muriwai.

 These two diagrams cover most of the station. The standard facilities provided were a stockyards, goods shed, loading bank, station building and platform. At the south end is the stockyards. The track layout had a double slip between the stockyards loading siding, the station loop, and the goods shed siding, this can be seen to the right of the stockyards. This fact points to the stockyards probably being busy at loading time and the need to easily move rakes of wagons between the other sidings and the stockyard.

The fertiliser store was built about the 1970s which is interesting because that would place it at about the same time as Ravensdown built their store at Matawhero and the question is who was working in competition with Ravensdown at the time. The building remains but is not in use for its former function. We can also see the location of the station (the platform remains today), loading bank (still in place but not part of the railway yard), goods shed (gone) and a trolley shed at the north end.

So let's have a look at some aerial maps of the station.

1962 aerial view of the south end of the station, showing the stockyards. If viewed today, this area would be basically empty.

North end of the station as seen in 1962. 

North end 1986. The fertiliser store has been built and its siding installed, but most other regular traffic facilities in the station have gone. At this point, fertiliser was probably the only traffic at Muriwai.

North end 2012. The yard tracks have been cut back to the main line, loop and the backshunts at both ends of the loop. The loading bank is now fenced off from the rail yards, and the store siding appears to have been lifted.

We already looked at Waipaoa Bridge in a previous article so this is just a quick look at the updated maps.

 1944 original bridge.
 1957 with work underway on the extension at the south end. A track deviation allowed the new spans to be built on dry land before the river was diverted onto its new course.
 1986 showing the 1950s extension completed.
 1988 after the southern approach was washed away by severe flooding, the bridge was extended again to reach its current length.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0R]: Volume 5 Progress Update 18

Although we are still working to complete the map volume as rapidly as possible, our workload over the weekends is always reduced due to other time commitments. This means all we have to report at the moment is having posted the blog article on Matawhero Station, and completing drawing the yard layout at Muriwai, which will enable us to complete the 5th and final part of the M-M-M article series. Some smaller changes were made here and there. This also signifies the end of the Greater Gisborne section of updating the maps project, meaning we can move on quickly to creating the updated aerial and diagram maps of this area, and final checking prior to release. We also have to generate map sets for the Gisborne-Waioeka Survey and Ngatapa Branch as previously mentioned.

Therefore by sometime tomorrow we expect to have completed all the maps north of Napier and to be focusing our attention on Napier itself where we will quickly add any missing detail such as siding names to the maps of Napier Port especially, and then work our way back towards Palmerston North itself. As outlined in a previous update, this entails completing detail of the selected stations for which Comprehensive level coverage has been chosen, such as Waipukurau and Dannevirke, and posting blog articles about these places. It also means checking details on S&I diagrams for details that have not yet been added to the maps.

We are currently having a technical problem with the GIS software that prevents us using WMTS background layers from Linz at the same time as our local maps of stations, but a quick workaround is to make a temporary copy of the project that only uses the WMTS layers, and this will obviate the need to download the entire set of Linz aerial photography for the PNGL. We still plan on obtaining that in the future and have previously downloaded a considerable portion of it, but this will be attended to at a less critical time.

Following the completion of the PNGL maps, as outlined previously, we intend to move on to the Wairarapa Line (Volume 6). But there will probably be a pause of up to a week before that to allow for a break from the intensive pace of the last few weeks, and routine maintenance of our computer systems, the map drawing one being critically low on disk space and needing a big cleanup. Being able to finalise the PNGL project will also enable us to free up storage on the aerial photo processing computer, used for downloaded aerial photos, since it is always near full due to the large number of these resources and the space they consume. Before moving on to Volume 6 we also need to re-evaluate how much time is actually reasonable for Comprehensive level coverage of selected stations given its time consuming and intensive nature. This will influence whether or how much of such coverage can be added to other volumes. One of the things that has happened with Volume 5 is a lot more time than planned spent on the Comprehensive coverage of stations around Gisborne, primarily due to additional discoveries being made at the research level for various stations which has meant the historical mosaic maps being extended numerous times. We need to ensure this doesn't happen with other stations in the PNGL volume and other future volumes, probably by doing the research earlier in the map development timeline, so we can have better time management.

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [4D]: Makaraka, Matawhero & Muriwai [4]: Matawhero, Ravensdown Siding & Waipaoa Siding

Today we're going to have a look at Matawhero Station. When you head south from Gisborne, Matawhero is the first station south of Gisborne Junction. Matawhero was once quite a busy station, but these days you would hardly know that; obviously its role for GCVR is limited to the crossing loop, but even when the line was opened, in 2012 all it did was connect the Ravensdown premises to the railway network. This change over the years is reflected in the changes in the yard layout and the signalling system. We are going to show just a few aerials and diagrams in this post, but a full set will be available online in the map sets for the PNGL mainline. The final versions of these are still a few days away from being uploaded because it's easier to put them online all at once rather than having to keep taking them all down to add new content (a necessity given the limitations of Google Photos as a tile platform).

We do not have much information on the type of traffic handled at Matawhero, but there is a strong indication that it was the major stock-handling station for the greater Gisborne area. It is very conveniently situated close to State Highway 35 and State Highway 2, and is a good distance from any population centres - an important prerequisite for the often smelly and dirty business of transshipping stock from road to rail. It is possible but somewhat unlikely that stock could have been loaded there for the nearby Gisborne freezing works at the Port, but it seems more realistic that they would go greater distances further south, such as to the various works in the Hawkes Bay. Stock being moved into the region could have come, for example, from the major saleyards at Waipukurau which had its own siding for loading, and obviously from elsewhere. Once NZR got out of stock handling beginning in the early 1960s when stock was exempted from the 30 mile cartage limit, this role diminished greatly, but Matawhero survived in a new role of handling fertiliser traffic through the adjacent Ravensdown depot on Macdonald Road (built in the 1970s) - which continued up until closure of the line in 2012.

If the Gisborne line should reopen in future, Matawhero will become a focus for possible traffic handling opportunities. There have been a number of suggestions that logs could be loaded there for railage to Napier Port, and a wood processing mill was established some years ago adjacent to the Ravendown site, and potentially could be connected via the existing siding route - although some of the track has been lifted into the Ravensdown depot. It is also possible fertiliser could be carried on the line again, using the mode-shiftable open top fertiliser containers that are now used around the NZ railway system.

Our diagram for a general overview of Matawhero. It doesn't show all of the south end of the yard, but it does show the main facilities. From it, we can see that Matawhero once had quite a large stockyard, a goods shed, a loading bank, station platform and building. None of these facilities are present today; even the loading bank and station platform are gone, although the station building still exists, having been relocated to the East Coast Museum of Technology at Makaraka. 

Below are a set of 5 diagrams covering the whole station in much more detail. We also have four aerials for each diagram, covering the eras 1951, 1966, 1986 and 2012. We won't be posting all of these diagrams, just picking one of each era to illustrate particular points.

 The southmost end of Matawhero. The main difference here since the 1970s has been the addition of the Ravensdown siding. Another important difference is the bridge across the stream, which has been replaced by a culvert in more recent times.
 Coming up the yard we can see there were a number of sidings, in particular there is one siding that started right in front of the stockyards and was quite separate from the rest of the yard.
 A closeup view of the main facilities in the yard. At left is the stockyard, and note that there was at one time a scissors crossover in the trackwork in front of it. This would have been particularly relevant for access to that siding we mentioned above, given its proximity to the stockyards. Over to the right we can see the goods shed and station building and platform.
 North end of the yard. Apart from some of the facilities we can see in the previous diagram, we can also see the position of the loading bank in this map. Unusually, the loading bank no longer exists today.
In the last of this series of diagrams, we can see how a backshunt off the end of the loop, a small part of which is still used today as an overrun siding, used to cross the main road and continue a short distance on the north-east side.

Here now are some aerials for these diagrams. Check the full set when they come online in a few days.

Westernmost end of Matawhero in 1951, showing the bridge which has been replaced by a culvert. This replacement was part of an environmentally destructive process of converting a tidal river lagoon ecosystem into farmland in this area.

Same area as above in 2012, as well as the culvert we can see the Ravensdown siding coming around the curve as it leaves Matawhero Station to head to the fertiliser store (the next map shows this in more detail)

2012 aerial map of Matawhero showing the location of the Ravensdown fertiliser store. The route of the siding can be viewed as it runs straight down from the works before making a big curve through 90 degrees to enter the Matawhero station yard.

Western-middle section of yard with the stockyards at right. The mystery siding that is connected off one end of a scissors crossover from the stockyards is visible at the upper centre of the map. Given the fact of the installation of that crossover, the siding's its adjacency to the stockyards, its physical distance from other sidings to allow space for some kind of platform or other physical structure that is vaguely visible in the aerials, and the size of the stockyards at Matawhero, we have concluded (without doing any additional research) that this siding was most likely for cleaning stock wagons. Given that Matawhero obviously handled large volumes of stock, the scissors would be necessary to allow wagons to be moved in and out of this siding whilst loading operations were simultaneously occurring at the stockyards - the loading ramp was at the northern end of the yards as shown and this would allow loading clear of the scissors as long as the rest of the rake were further north (towards the goods shed). The additional sidings at the station would also have allowed for a large number of stock wagons to be stored. The scissors also appears to have allowed simultaneous loading and unloading - we don't have any information on Matawhero specifically, but it appears to have separate ramps for these two operations, during at least part of its history, which is not commonly seen, and is another factor that points to a large volume of stock handled there. However as we know from the 1960s onwards, stock traffic was gradually transferred to road and this explains why the stock handling facilities and sidings are no longer visible in the 1986 map.
Middle of the station yard seen in 1966. The stockyards have a small amount of stock in one of the holding pens, and one single wagon is sitting at the loading ramp. A couple of rakes of deckers are visible to the right.

1986 middle yard view. The loss of the stockyards and even the goods shed, and the rake of wagons that probably carry fertiliser, point to the major change in use at Matawhero. The rectangular area to the left of the station building is a bit of a mystery at this stage - one possibility is that it or another similar area further to the south were used for earlier housing at the station, but no documentation has yet been located to support this. By the 1940s certainly the staff accommodation appears to have consisted of three houses next to MacDonalds Road on the northern boundary of the yard - which are still there today.

Easternmost part of Matawhero in 1951. To the upper right appears to be an unknown structure that was gone by 1966 - timber stack is one possibility. Next to it is the loading bank, no longer in existence today.

In the earlier history of Matawhero, a backshunt off the eastern end of the loop crossed the road next to the main line and continued for some distance on the other side. It isn't particularly certain how long that backshunt was, or how long it was there for. There is a possibility it had been lifted by 1966, or alternatively at that time that it was longer than we have drawn it on the maps. A short piece of it has been left in place on the western side of the road as part of the standard safety siding found at each end of a crossing loop to protect the main line from wagon runaways.

The only standalone S&I diagram we have for Matawhero was this one, 1274, dated 1968. Matawhero at that time was a switch-out station with its own signalling panel for controlling the various points and signals within station limits. An interesting feature is located to the south/west  at around 236 miles 68 chains - the service siding, more than three miles to the south of Matawhero, and about three miles north of Muriwai. This was most likely at the southern end of the Waipaoa River Bridge (No. 290). There was a siding there during the bridge extension project in the late 1950s and this is probably what the reference is to. We have marked "Service Siding" on the map, but not the distance, as we have no means of confirming that the S&I referred to the same location given the time lapse.

Most of Matawhero was fairly conventional apart from the Departure signals 19 and 5. These signals were controlled by Gisborne station when Matawhero was switched out, but if the station was switched in, Gisborne would give permission to Matawhero to release 19 signals. In other words, if there was no one on duty at Matawhero, Gisborne could clear the signals in either direction. If there was a signalman on duty at Matawhero, Gisborne would still clear trains to depart south, but for trains heading north, Gisborne would give permission to Matawhero to start trains when ready.

Another unconventional feature at Matawhero is the airport runway signalling system a little further north. Signals are provided for both trains and aircraft where the main line crossed the runway. We have not referenced the Working Timetable instructions for operation of this system so are not able to comment on exactly how it operates. As far as we know, however, this section is entirely controlled by the airport tower, which must issue permission for trains to cross the runway. Interestingly there are no safety sidings for the railway tracks.

Airport runway signalling system.

Matawhero in more recent years has been included in S&I diagrams for Gisborne Station. This is because the Gisborne station limits were extended to include Matawhero. Since the sidings were added to Awapuni Coolpack and Kiwi Fruit Products north of Matawhero, the station was given control of the switchlocks into these sidings but had to obtain permission from the Gisborne signalman due to the possibility of a train being despatched from Gisborne at the same time.

As we noted in an earlier post of this series on Gisborne Junction, the fully interlocked and signalled switch out station at Matawhero became "Matawhero Sidings" by the time of issue of S&I 2146 of March 1989, at which point there was only a set of paired points (No.2) at the north/east end of the station. At that time probably the traffic was solely fertiliser for Ravensdown as all the other freight handling facilities at the station had been removed by then. However the most recent diagram that was in force when the line closed in 2012 showed that the south/western end main line to loop paired points (No.9) operated by a frame lever had been reinstated by then. By that time also "Waipaoa Siding" 3.5 km to the south/west had been added into a local sawmill.

Waipaoa Siding maps. The south/west end Matawhero points were probably added to enable shunts to/from this siding to be staged at Matawhero as the siding has only a single track with no additional storage or runaround facility for locomotives.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0Q]: Volume 5 Progress Update 17

After our last post about extra work being discovered as we got into more depth of working on lines in the Gisborne area, that trend has continued today. Whilst in the course of tidying up all the aerial photography around the Gisborne area and labelling many of the sidings off the main line, we discovered a second NZR aerial survey for Gisborne Station.

To explain this in more depth, Retrolens has many different survey sources, most of them various government departments. The ones that have consistently proved most useful for NZ Rail Maps are the highway surveys done by the Roads Board et al (where these highways are close to railway lines) and the ones that NZR themselves had done. Most of these are around 1:8000 in scale. Indeed, the aerial survey we used to map the Cromwell Gorge section of the OCB for Volume 12, dating from 1962, is a highway survey (SH8), as were some other historical surveys of the railway around the Clutha Valley.

NZR aerial surveys mainly take two forms. Major stations had their own surveys, which are generally carried out at a scale of about 1:4300, though there are a small number at a larger scale. Often there will be just one run (Run A), but occasionally with a big area, for example the Port of Lyttelton, with changes in direction, there can be several runs to get everything covered.

In addition, major rail corridors had corridor surveys, which are generally at a scale of 1:5500. They cover a whole corridor or part corridor using multiple runs because of the fact that no corridor runs in a straight line, but the aerial survey aircraft must fly in a straight line for each run. There are no corridor surveys for less important lines like the Hokitika/Ross branch, Otago Central Branch, Kingston Branch etc. They just cover the major corridors, which includes the Palmerston North Gisborne Line in this instance - the corridor survey around Gisborne was done in 1986 and happens to include the Makaraka Branch in the last run into Gisborne Station.

Going back to the station surveys, some stations had more than one done. When we first came to do Gisborne Station in 2018, the survey we found at that time was dated 1968. We do not recall if the 1982 survey was found at that time, but the 1968 one was chosen. Having done more investigation today into the area around Gisborne Station and the various private sidings, we are now creating map tiles for that era in Gisborne, which will add another era to the historical aerial maps, as well as giving more detail to add to the diagrams.

Today we also finished drawing the yard layout for Matawhero. This means the next part of the M-M-M series can be written tomorrow. Whilst looking in the area, we removed Gisborne Aerodrome as a station. This is shown in the Quail Atlas 4th edition, but Dates And Names suggests that it was for a siding that was never installed, so it never existed. We are fairly confident of having got everything we need for Gisborne now, and so there is just Muriwai Station to complete mapping the area and allow us to push on back towards Napier and points further south in finalising the maps to be completed next week.

NZ Rail Maps Project Development Report [2020B]

This report as always with these reports is a general overview of the project as a whole across all volumes. Our earlier report 2020A was written on the first day of the year and outlined our expected programme for map development across the whole project this year.

At present with the development of the maps across all volumes, the following sequence is proposed at this time, but could change later:
  • Volume 5 (PNGL) - on track to be completed by the end of January
  • Volume 6 (WL) - February
  • Volume 4 (MNPL) - March
  • Volume 3 (ECMT) - Apri
  • Volume 1 (NAL) - May
  • Volume 2 (NIMT) - June
This means we have priorisitised the 6 volumes of the North Island for the first half of the year, leaving the 6 volumes of the South Island for the second half of the year. Most of these volumes are already completed to some extent from previous work. The largest amount of work is likely to be needed in the two longest corridors apart from PNGL - these are ECMT and NIMT of course. NIMT is one of the more challenging ones because of the length of the corridor and the fact it runs between two of our largest cities.

We now turn to a look at some evolving changes in the way certain technical aspects of the maps themselves have been developed. What is becoming more commonplace in the maps in general in the last year or two is widespread use of aerial photography to provide references for historical and contemporary content. How that aerial photography is used to provide finished maps has varied to date. Now that we are moving towards completed volumes for all areas, this is very relevant.

Map data in a GIS is handled in layers. Each layer manages a particular type of object and generally for convenience we can further divide the types of data into our own personal classifications. Here are some examples:
  • Locations (stations, distance pegs etc)
  • Bridges and Tunnels
  • Features (such as premises that contain sidings)
  • Main Line Corridor(s)
  • Branch Line Corridor(s) 
  • Yards and Sidings
  • Buildings
  • Structures
  • Sites
  • Roads
  • Land
  • Water
  • Terrain
  • Aerial Photos
All of the map volume GIS projects follow that general style.

The maps are presented in two overall types. Diagram maps are drawn against a terrain background. The terrain is rendered greyscale relief imagery that shows the type of terrain for the area (i.e. flat or hills). It does not have a significant visual impact upon the finished maps as most of the grey shades are less than 50% density.

Aerial maps are drawn against an aerial photography background. With this type of background there are many more challenges mostly in making data layers stand out against a background that is much more dense and often quite dark. There is also the issue of the data layers obscuring visible content in the aerial photography itself. Another issue is the alignment of some of the general (non rail) data layers such as roads.

Because of these issues with aerial photography in particular, the work on Volume 5 has begun to classify layers as being diagram specific. This means when we produce a map of one particular area, such as one station, a diagram map will show much more data than an aerial map. This means the aerial map will be visually a lot less cluttered and more of the aerial background will be visible.

Another important aspect specifically relating to diagrams has been the production of diagrams that cover more than one historical era. We developed a system a year or two back using date range fields to enable us to determine where possible when a particular object became visible and when it became invisible, driven by aerial photography reference. By applying filter formulas, we could cause these objects to appear and disappear on the resulting maps. The main drawback however is the amount of work needed to create these different historical eras. In major yards a lot of changes can take place over a long period.

It has been decided that most diagrams going forward will be composites that show multiple eras in one diagram, with labelling to clarify certain aspects. Eras will be solely represented by producing an aerial map for each era, but as the map information on an aerial map is not the full range of data visible on a diagram map, much of the information that is era specific will not be marked on the aerial map itself. Instead, a reader will use the diagram map to cross reference specific features which are visible on an aerial map.

A small change has also occurred where aerial photo tiles are partly filled by empty canvas in the graphics editing software that produces (mainly) historical tiles, but also is used to remove some black edges that we get in the tiles we download from Linz. For some time we have filled these gaps with current aerial photos. However, to avoid confusing different eras of aerial photography, starting with Volume 5 we will fill these gaps with a white background.

We are also moving towards producing combined map sets that incorporate all aerial and diagram maps together in sequence. This is in addition to producing separate aerial and diagram sets, which has been the norm up until now.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Palmerston North Gisborne Line [0P]: Volume 5 Progress Update 16

As ever, work continues at a frantic pace to complete all the maps for Volume 5. It's been quite surprising the extra work that has cropped up in the last week, due to additional detail being discovered about some of the stations around Gisborne. 

The maps have (hopefully) been completed for the Moutohora/Makaraka branches and several articles posted on the Makaraka Branch. The online versions of these maps have not yet been updated as this process requires all the existing maps to be removed before adding the new ones, of which there are now 118 from Gisborne Junction to Moutohora. We want to finalise all of the Gisborne stuff before uploading everything all at once.

The next stage is to label all the sidings around Gisborne using the detail in the S&I diagrams then work down to Matawhero, finish the maps for that station (95% complete as of now), publish the next part of the M-M-M article series on the station, then onward to Muriwai, another set of maps and another MMM series article, and that will hopefully be it for Gisborne. Then we have to generate the maps for the Ngatapa Branch, as well, and also the Gisborne-Waioeka survey.

From there we work back down south. We have already updated maps for Wairoa and Napier, and these won't be looked at again. But we do have to check up on Napier Port, again using those S&I diagrams to label sidings in the area.

Then we still have to finish off a few intermediate stations between Palmerston North and Napier, particularly Dannevirke where we have not drawn anything yet. Some of the other stations still need a bit of detail put in.

So anyway there is still quite a lot to do and we just need to keep up the current pace of updating to ensure we meet our deadline of completing this volume within the next week.