New Zealand Rail Maps Project Development Report [2021D]

Good day and welcome to our project development report for July 2021. In future these reports may form the majority of blog posts. More frequent updates can generally be found on our group, or on our Facebook page.

Currently the main area of progress is in Volume 10 of the maps, where we are developing the Picton Section of the maps, that is the historical section of the Volume 10 main line corridor known as the Picton Section from 1875 until 1942. Construction of the Picton Section occurred between 1875 and 1915, when it reached Wharanui, a total distance around 91 km. In 1942, with construction work aiming to open the full Main North Line, the railhead moved south to Clarence, then to Kaikoura in 1944. The following year the construction from the south reached Kaikoura, resulting in the official opening of the Main North Line.

The Picton Section maps are being updated starting from Wharanui and working north. Mosaics have been produced for all of the stations that will have historical aerial coverage included. These are:

  • Wharanui
  • Mirza
  • Ward
  • Lake Grassmere
  • Seddon
  • Dashwood
  • Dashwood Pass Service Siding
  • Water at 189 m 14 ch
  • Vernon
  • Riverlands
  • Blenheim
  • Grovetown Ballast Siding
  • Spring Creek
  • Tuamarina
  • Koromiko
  • Elevation
  • Picton

As each section from one station to another is completed in the GIS, the volume images are being created for the section. These incorporate a revised design that displays a filename in the lower left of the image. This filename is unique to each image and makes it possible to produce the maps in different sections at a time rather than the old system of production which used a simple sequence number starting from 1 and meant it was only possible to create volumes all at the same time. The filename is tagged to the actual location mapped using kilometre posts as a starting point. All filenames end with a four digit string which is 0000 for diagram maps and a year code for aerial maps, making it easy for the first time to display the year of aerial photography when used as a background for map images.

In addition to our standard layers, we have recently been able to download from the ArcGIS site, the Kiwirail Networks official public data layers that include all these kilometre posts as well as bridges, tunnels and other information that is already displayed in the Kiwirail ALCAM map website. Since these layers have a Creative Commons BY license, it means we can use these in the maps without copyright concerns. The map image layout has also incorporated an acknowledgement of Kiwirail Networks as well as Open Street Map, along with LINZ, in the copyright statement printed in the lower right area of each image. As regards Volume 10, this is relevant to data manually copied from the ALCAM maps, rather than imported from Kiwirail Networks’ map layers.

As of today, the Picton Section revision has reached from Wharanui to Seddon, a total distance of around 38 km. 51 km is still required to reach Picton and could therefore expect to take another couple of weeks to complete. The maps are being uploaded to and Facebook as they are completed. However work is underway to get the maps posted on the Volumes site. This was started some time ago and has been delayed somewhat due to hardware upgrading and consequent resource reorganisation. Having finally completed this process, the Volumes site gallery display scripts are being worked on again this week.

As soon as the Volumes site is ready with the display of Volume images, we can bring the Stations site up. The Stations site will have an entry for each station, and commonly the images used will be linked in from the Volumes site. Hence the Stations site is dependent on the Volumes site. We are still considering whether combining the two sites together is preferable to separate sites.

Until the extra sites are ready, the one thing we can do right now is a weekly update to the webmaps. An update that incorporates the new data from Volume 10 Wharanui to Seddon is being built at the same time as this post is being written. If there are no issues then it should go live in a day or two.