Saturday, 26 November 2011

Rimutaka Incline Railway: Stage 1

This time around I have changed the map files so that the WL_Wgtn file (Wairarapa Line – Wellington) covers all of the Rimutaka Incline section right up to where it ends just outside Featherston. This is just a commonsense thing that means it is not split over two files. So I am not so much concerned by the physical boundaries of Wellington, as I am with being able to represent such an important historical feature of the Wellington railway landscape, in one single map file.
During this week the Rimutaka Incline Railway Heritage Trust, to give it its full name, appeared at a hearing of a subcommittee of Greater Wellington Regional Council to support their application for a concession to operate through the GWRC owned land which currently contains most of the Rimutaka Incline railway formation they intend to operate on.
Now just for some statistics I have measured this in Google Earth using my maps and these are the critical distances:
  • Maymorn – Dry Creek: 1.4 km
  • Dry Creek – Kaitoke South: 3.9 km
  • Kaitoke South – Kaitoke (deviation): 1.3 km
On their website the group have suggested Stage 1 is Maymorn to Summit. I think with the size of the group and the development that is needed I would suggest they cut back Stage 1 to Kaitoke and focus on developing a train operation over that initial 7 km along with the facilities at Kaitoke. Summit is not a destination for tourists, as there is nothing there and no road access to it. A 7 km operation is bigger than anything else in the Wellington area. It will give them a good base to work from for the much larger task of getting to Summit at a future time (Summit is another 12 km from Kaitoke roughly).

Part of the reason for saying this is that their society only has 40 members and that is a pretty small base to develop from. To get to what they are hoping to achieve they will have to broaden their appeal a lot more in order to grow their membership. They have spent their first ten years focusing on being a rail heritage organisation, and arguably this focus has limited their achievement. It is difficult to see how they can achieve more without a change in focus or broadening their appeal and in my view, being less about rail heritage and more about this tourism focus. So the rail heritage side of things, which there has been a lot of focus on, needs to go into the background more. Another part is the assumption, which I think is quite reasonable, that the development will be more protracted than predicted, because most of the time this is what happens. I think the formation works will take longer and cost more than predicted, because remedial work will be found that was deferred by NZR especially towards the end of operating the line.

Here is the latest map showing the entire route.

View Larger Map