Thursday 19 March 2020

Wairarapa Line [0Q]: Volume 6 Progress Update 17

Welcome to Volume 6 Progress Update 17. Work on the maps is now well underway on the section of the Wairarapa Line from Waterloo to Upper Hutt and hopefully all the way to Masterton by the end of this week in order to have a reasonable prospect of keeping to the schedule and having the full volume published by the end of March. This means a lot of work and various decisions having to be taken to ensure the production goes as quickly as possible. In particular in the production of historic mosaics, it means ensuring they are finished rapidly and with as few redraws as is absolutely necessary. 

Over the past couple of days as an example it was highly desirable to redraw mosaics for Silverstream because of a significant misalignment issue that was discovered in an area where for historical accuracy it has been highly necessary to make a correction. This is where the railway crossed over the Hutt River on the old Silverstream Bridge and our interest in accuracy is high because we have managed to discover that, contrary to ordinary expectations, the old single track formation, rather than being joined to the double track at the entrance to the 90 degree curve at the west end of the bridge, or perhaps running immediately east of the double track, actually ran west of it for some distance before in fact crossing over it at the start of the curve. This is why in the Quail maps there is a distinct location marked as "Haywards Junction" where the old and new routes joined.

Between Woburn and Silverstream Bridge we only have two historical aerial generations for the various stations, 1939/1941 and 1969/1970. Most of these stations in the eastern Hutt Valley did not in fact exist in the earlier period as the line between Waterloo and Haywards was not started until c.1946 and finally completed in 1954. The 1969/70 aerial coverage is of such good quality and the changes in these suburban passenger stations (as they are today) are relatively few so they can be adequately covered with only 1969/70 in addition to current. Nevertheless some of these stations like Naenae and Taita did have goods yards and facilities which is a far cry from their current passenger only operations. 

But once we get to Silverstream, with its interesting history because of the deviation and reuse as a heritage railway, there is enough going on there to have generations for 1941, 1945 (bridge only, at higher resolution), 1957, 1963 and 1984. So that has taken up a fair bit of work since the last update. We also found some better quality coverage of Haywards itself in 1947 that will be added to the maps as well. We now however have to go much faster through to Upper Hutt and then over the Remutakas but have done a lot of these areas previously so we hope to progress fairly rapidly there but it is still going to be a tough challenge to meet that deadline. 

As of today, maps are currently drawn all the way to Haywards (both routes) and have been produced for the main line to Pomare (just south of Haywards) and the mosaics extracted to Silverstream. We will push on today and hope to make major progress towards Upper Hutt by the finish of today. The old western route from Melling to Haywards has been drawn for the first time but we won't produce actual maps for it until the last minute as there is still a possibility of getting better quality aerial photos for it. If we can't get these it is just a best guess but in any case largely academic exercise of map drawing as most of the route has disappeared with highway building and river flood protection works.

Housing development underway at Pomare in 1947. The old single track line via Melling runs alongside the road towards the bottom of this image. The Hutt Valley line in this area was the last section to be completed, finally opened from Taita in March 1954, doubled in July 1954 and electrified in July 1955 and required a double track bridge across the Hutt River.

We'll post more maps of Silverstream etc next time, this post has been waiting a few days for those maps but we just want to get this update posted. The maps of the area are being finalised right at this time and will be available later today.