In our last update we mentioned that we were considering relaxing the development schedule and allowing two years to complete the maps as expected. The key reason for this is that the level we are currently developing maps to will need longer than the current year to achieve, with the Intermediate level that we are working to.
This has naturally brought about the suggestion that we should work to release all 12 volumes to the Basic level as quickly as possible, and then push on with volume by volume completion to the next level.
However at this point we need to redefine the Basic, Intermediate and Comprehensive levels. In summary:
- Basic is a set of diagram maps of the current and known historical rail corridors based on current aerial photography and other current sources.
- Intermediate adds aerial maps, including georeferenced historical aerial photography, to the Basic level
- Comprehensive adds a printable PDF volume to the Basic and Intermediate levels.
It's appropriate to change these because our priorities have changed. We now regard the online formats (diagrams and aerials) as being the highest priority and reaching the greatest number of users. The posts we made earlier this year defining these levels will therefore be republished.
Whilst the PDF volume format of the maps is still important to us, there are two facets of it that have to be considered for resourcing. The first is that the maps that are produceable in PDF form have to be a unique form factor just for those volumes. This means we have to generate a completely different set of diagrams from the ones that are on the web site. The second issue is simply that there is low demand for this format. Hence it is becoming the lowest priority overall and we now consider it to be the premium format that will take a lot longer to appear.
We are still very serious about completing the 12 volumes and bringing the overall project to a close. We anticipate staging that out over the next three years. The stages will be as follows:
- Completion of all 12 volumes to a Basic level will be undertaken serially after Volume 6 is released. This should only take about 2 months.
- Serial completion of individual volumes (after Volume 5 and Volume 5) to Intermediate level. This will continue much as it does now, but is now expected to take until the end of 2021.
- Complete the Comprehensive level, i.e PDF volume, in all 12 volumes over 2022.
So for now we'll be pushing on with the Volume 6 Intermediate level, then we'll be switching to Basic level of the other 10 volumes. We will then go back to Intermediate level for those 10 volumes, and then Comprehensive level for all 12. This will ensure there is at least some maps available for all 12 volumes in the shortest possible time and then they are being progressively upgraded to the full level of coverage.