New Zealand Rail Maps Project Development Report – June 2022

During June, the rail maps project slowed down somewhat as resources were put into creating a series of historical maps for Christchurch City for the purposes of other allied blogs, including Transport Safety Blog and Christchurch Transport Blog. This work is ongoing at the time of writing this, but in the last week of the month, work has resumed on Volume 11 of NZ Rail Maps whilst at the same time continuing to work in the background on the allied projects. One of the issues that has come up from the Christchurch project is the available content on the Retrolens site, a matter expounded upon in a recent blog post. Since it was found that a percentage of a 1973 survey was missing from the site, arrangements are being made to obtain the entire survey from Linz (and that also covers Waimakariri District for which historical maps are also under development for TSBNZ/CTB blogs). It has been decided at the same time to check for other relevant survey images that are omitted from Retrolens, and it has been found that a large volume of survey material that would aid the development of considerable detail in Volumes 8 and 9 of the maps is not available from the site. So it is currently the plan that these surveys are to be obtained from Linz as well, and it is an expectation to find among them sufficient good quality imagery to document every main line and branch line corridor in the West Coast that was operational in the 1970s. There is not presently much more detail for lines that closed earlier than this than has already been obtained from Retrolens, but station surveys, corridor surveys and other useful material such as highway and area surveys are expected to cover the Midland Line, Stillwater-Ngakawau line, Seddonville, Rapahoe, Rewanui and Hokitika/Ross branches and show many of the stations that have long since disappeared.

Planning has also begun for the next update of the NZRM Webmaps site which is expected to go live at the end of this year. The site continues to draw a steady following, and this will be the first major revision of the site design in the two years since it was created, although content within the site was last updated in October 2021. The update of the site will include all current content revisions to that time, but the overall design is also likely to be changed due to the proposals being investigated to add more historical aerial photography of particular stations, as well as the Topographic layer from Linz Basemaps as another alternative to the NZRM project’s own topographics. Currently the computer that runs the test and build environment is about to have the required components and tools installed so that development can be resumed. In general, project work as a whole for the rest of the year will, alongside the webmaps look at Volumes 10 and 11 in the South Island, and it is not clear when some of the North Island volume revisions that were underway previously can be resumed.