This blog is about the NZ Rail Maps project. The aim of the project is to draw high quality large scale maps of every public railway line in New Zealand, incorporating such detail as route alignments, realignments and deviations, stations, yards, bridges and tunnels etc. The coverage of the project includes all currently open lines as well as historical lines which have been closed or mothballed, going back to the beginning of the New Zealand railway network.
The project has been in development since February 2008 when the first maps were developed in the Google Earth KML format. The technical limitations of this format, including the inability to produce maps that could be easily printed, and licensing/redistribution restrictions, caused a rethink of this key aspect of the maps, and in mid-2012 the authoring was shifted to a GIS-based system (using the Free and Open Source Software package Qgis). Linz’s freely available data layers have been used as the basis for these maps and their aerial photography of New Zealand has replaced Google Earth satellite imagery as the base source for the maps.
The map layers are currently archived on Google Drive and are freely available to interested parties. As of April 2017 the project is considered to be nearing completion and it is expected to be wound up by the end of 2019. At that point the maps will be fully and freely published on both the Flickr site (web browseable form) or Scribd (PDF form). One method of distribution which has not been covered is hard copy editions. There is an opportunity for someone to get involved and sell hard copies of the publications for whatever they consider reasonable as they are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike terms.
This blog currently has only a few of its hundreds of historical posts currently published and this will remain the case until the end of the project, when a decision will be made on whether to remove it. Until then, only limited information updates will be added, such as when a new volume or other reference is published.