NZRM Progress Report 2023-06-23: Midland Line, Wairarapa Line, Palmerston North Gisborne Line, North Island Main Trunk

This week on New Zealand Rail Maps the overwhelming focus has been on the migration of the project’s websites to a new hosting platform. This is now fully in operation both for this blog and for the webmaps. The new hosting solution is provided in New Zealand, rather than in California, and should probably result in a small improvement in response times for the site although this is not expected to be significant. Following earlier consideration it has been determined that all of the internet based resources are to be migrated to the new platform rather than leaving some temporarily on the old platform and that this work will be finalised by the end of this month. In conjunction with this work, the affiliated sites, and have also been migrated to the same platform.

Now for the NZRM maps, work has been continuing on the Midland Line, Volume 9. This has mainly been to complete maps of the city of Greymouth, which are now nearly ready except for redoing the coverage from 1945, which will show the old railway yards and especially the tiphead lines on the moles at both sides of the harbour entrance. In common with a number of similar ports around New Zealand, the harbour entrance moles at Greymouth were built up and maintained in the earlier history of the river port by tipping quantities of heavy stone from railway wagons using lines that were actually built on the moles themselves. Westport, Timaru and Whanganui are examples of other ports in New Zealand where stone haulage railways were used in this way and there certainly would have been others. Apart from Greymouth there are a handful of small stations on the mainline of the Midland Line corridor where maps still have to be completed. Work has been underway this week in drawing the maps of Greymouth and is being pressed ahead with all reasonable speed to have this volume of maps published as early as possible and it is still hoped this will be complete well before the Otira Centenary Commemorations in August.

Some work has also been happening on the Volume 2 maps of the NIMT, specifically at Marton where the receipt of a batch of previously unavailable high quality images of the railway yards from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s will add to the previously created coverage from 1949. On the Palmerston North Gisborne Line some more work has been done on maps of the Moutohora and Ngatapa Branches, and new aerial photos of Woodville have been received for future inclusion. In the case of the Wairarapa Line, this week work has been focusing on correcting some issues with previously drawn maps of the Greytown Branch. This includes the coverage of Woodside, Greytown and the branch itself. In the case of both Volume 5 and Volume 6, previously published content of volume-based maps for both these areas has been moved onto the new website this week as part of the platform migration and articles created in this blog for accessing the files included in each volume. This is a necessary part of integrating the Volumes site and its content into the main project news site. There is now a separate Volumes category to organise this content and in due course there will be a Volumes specific category page available for access directly to the volumes content.

Recently work has been undertaken to identify the large scale corridor surveys that were flown of major rail corridors in New Zealand for the former New Zealand Railways Department, the forerunner of Kiwirail. About 50 surveys have been found constituting approximately 8000 aerial photos of these corridors, and work is underway to begin having these copied for the project’s use later this year.

Overall planning for the project has also been considered. The outcome is that it is proposed in general to keep the project running until approximately the year 2031, i.e. about 23 years from the inauguration of the project in 2008, and about 8 years from now. The expectation then is that with three volumes of maps fully completed (volumes 5, 6 and 7) and one about to be released (volume 9), which will be the main release for 2023, the remaining volumes of the maps will be produced at the rate of one volume each year. Once Volume 9 is completed which is hoped to happen in the next few weeks, the remainder of 2023 would be used to develop the new webmaps for the project. After that the most immediate priority would be to complete the maps for Volume 10.