Sunday, 15 November 2009

Major progress at NZ Rail Maps site

This is just a quick post to note that a lot of work has been done on setting up this blog, Picasa Web Albums but especially on the NZ Rail Maps site. Just about every rail line map is being gone over as time permits, though I am very busy and often it is quite cursory. However full advantage is being taken of the Spot coverage of the South Island recently added to Google Earth to update the maps, most of the rural branch line coverage in particular is being brought up to date, the Stratford Okahukura Line and nearly every other line in the North Island including parts of the NIMT have been looked at so far, ECMT etc etc. Just finished looking at the Kingston Line and some but not all of its branches but that is what has been completed to date in a short amount of time, it is a very busy time of year, we have just had a long weekend so there has been opportunity.
Elsewhere I see the mothballing of the SOL has been controversial, but I sincerely doubt that it can ever be viable in the future given its geographical disadvantages. Reality is coming home to roost in certain areas, though Auckland still seems immune to it with the rebuilding of the Onehunga Branch, the new line to Manakau, proposals for a central rail tunnel and harbour bridge duplication, electrification, and laying a line to the airport. Still I imagine the money will run out sooner or later.
One of the useful features to be added in the latest version of Google Earth is being able to access earlier coverage of areas. For example, when I looked at the old Rimutaka Incline route recently, I found there was extensive cloud cover over the parts of the old route between Upper Hutt and Kaitoke. But stepping back to earlier footage gets rid of most of that, letting me see things like the temporary siding that connected the old and new routes between Mangaroa and Maymorn.
In general at this time the revision of maps is mainly for missed features. I am not bothering with alignment corrections except where coverage resolution has been improved significantly. It is notable that there is a lot of high-res of most of the main centres now and Hamilton in particular is a big improvement. But it is ridiculous that part of Lower Hutt is still only covered by low res Landsat, and we await Spot coverage of the rest of the North Island. Alignment errors tend to occur every time coverage is updated, which can be often in some areas, and fixing these is a very time consuming process that I haven’t got time for at the moment. I would suggest the alignments might only be corrected every 5 years or so, and the main bulk of the maps perhaps annually.
Must rush but the updates of the web site will continue, gradually.