I have started researching the Springburn Branch today. This will be a quick project like the Methven one, with only three morning sessions to look at 103 files. It will take in the latter day history of the line as well as all of the technical information such as the layouts of each station yard, sidings, bridges and other structures, etc. Today I looked at the bridge and general files and got to understand a lot about the line and why it closed down.
The line was basically closed in three stages. Firstly the section from Mount Somers to Springburn. First proposed for closure in 1930, it managed to hang on until the Second Labour Government, being shut in 1957. The section from Cavendish to Mount Somers was going to be the next section closed in the mid 1960s with Cavendish becoming the railhead. The reason for this was that the bridge over the Ashburton River was completely stuffed by that stage, it still had most of its original timber from being built 80 plus years before and needed a complete replacement. What happened instead was the line closed back to Valetta at the beginning of 1968, and then about six months later back to Tinwald. As we know the Plains Railway then purchased a section from Tinwald to Frasers Road crossing and that’s all that remains today.
The Springburn Branch is one of those lines that you wonder how it was ever built in the first place. Mount Somers and Springburn were fairly small settlements and every other station was tiny. It’s true that there was a lot of agricultural production and a fair bit of minerals, but the line in total was less than 50 km long. Most of these lines were built for purely political purposes because the economics certainly were never going to work out.
In other news, the project website is getting an update. I am considering whether to just put all of the content links into the Google Plus collections because people can subscribe to them and they are easier to update than the Trainweb site. Of course one option would be to have the whole website hosted on the likes of WordPress, but that will cost more. The Trainweb site is free, and with domain cloaking I can make it look like it is hosted under my domain name, so it isn’t too bad an option overall. The site becoming more of a frontend onto Google Plus is possibly what will happen however.