Sunday, 30 December 2012

Kawatiri, Gowanbridge, Murchison, Inangahua?

Right now I am mapping the Nelson Section and as part of that I’m doing my best to document what went beyond the final terminus of the line when it closed in 1955, which was at Glenhope. As we all know, Kawatiri was opened in 1926, but it closed in 1931 when all the construction works were stopped. By that stage Gowanbridge was almost completed and due to be opened shortly, and much of the section to Longford (Mangles River), just outside Murchison, was under construction. The line to Gowanbridge remained in place until 1942 when the track was lifted for use elsewhere, and trains never ran beyond Glenhope again.
Thanks to some work by Tony Hurst (author of several of railway books, and a helper in this NZ Rail Maps project), we know that surveys on both banks of the Buller River were undertaken by 1937 from Longford to the vicinity of Ariki Falls. At the time of writing this, I don’t have the publication which Tony scanned describing the survey work, but will endeavour to obtain it in the near future. Murchison was at about the 132 km point assuming Longford was at about 130 km. O’Donnell (When Nelson Had a Railway) states that the permanent line survey was completed to about 141 km, which is roughly Ariki Falls. A rough measurement of distance following the highway from Ariki Falls to Inangahua, where the line was to have joined the Stillwater Westport Line, comes out at about 33 km. Therefore the total distance to Inangahua would have been in the vicinity of 170-175 km from Nelson. The construction works needed in the upper Buller Gorge would have been substantial, considering what was needed in the lower gorge where the SWL went, which needed a significant number of large bridges as well as several tunnels, and which because of these challenges was not completed until 1942.
Here are sections from the forthcoming map of the route south of Glenhope. As I have no maps available to show where the railway went south of the final terminus, it is marked on the map as “Inexact Route” using the symbol for an uncertain formation. Ghost hunters these days face a challenge in that the highway between Glenhope and Kawatiri was substantially improved about 10 years ago, which encroached on the rail formation in places, and has probably made it much more difficult to determine the route today.
A view of the Glenhope area. There was a coal mine in the area at the time the NZMS1 map was drawn up in the 1940s but there is little known about it today. A ballast pit just south of the station became a locomotive dump in the late 1930s when two FA class steam engines were abandoned there, later scrapped. The highway was altered, probably about 10 years ago when the Glenhope-Kawatiri section of SH6 received major improvements. The old section on the left and its one way bridge are mostly still intact used for local access. Glenhope station building remains today although in dilapidated condition as a farm building.
View of Kawatiri. The railway came in from the north and crossed over the Hope River on a bridge, the concrete piers of which are still visible today. It then passed through the Kawatiri Tunnel, only the second on the entire line, and then crossed another bridge (currently rebuilt as a footbridge) before arriving at Kawatiri railway station. The highway to Blenheim was up high on a bluff to the west of where SH6 is today, which led it onto an overbridge across the line and then onto a Howe truss across the Hope River, part of which remains today as part of the Kawatiri station historical precinct. The highway to Inangahua continued along this bluff until it joined the existing highway south of Kawatiri. These days the highway passes through the former station site, the overbridge and then the Howe Truss having been progressively eliminated. I presume the formation of the old highway is still there somewhere in the bush to the west of the current road. These days the Kawatiri station site is where you can access a public walkway through the old tunnel. The walkway ends at the northern portal of the tunnel where a loop track takes you back around the ridge over the tunnel.
General view of Gowanbridge. An overbridge was provided for the Gowan Valley Road at the east end of the station yard. This bridge remained a number of years after closure but no longer exists today. The last construction works were undertaken to the west as far as Longford and should have seen trains running to Murchison by about 1932-33. In the event, the cessation of work meant the formation was incomplete although remnants of it can still be found today. The large cutting just west of Gowanbridge is now used by the highway (possibly this is the cutting immediately adjacent to the Granity Creek bridge) but the unfinished embankment across Grassy Flat (possibly just west of Granity Creek) remains visible today. Further west, concrete culverts or abutments can be seen in paddocks beside the road. It is my understanding that other substantial formation can be seen in places all the way to Longford, possibly including bridge approaches either side of the Owen River, although it is many years since I last travelled this route and there has never been an opportunity to further investigate any remnants. (Footnote: An old concrete bridge abutment is visible immediately south of the Owen River highway bridge but it is unclear if this had anything to do with the railway or is leftover from a former road bridge)
The last image shows survey routes which were in the document I referred to earlier. Starting from a point at the upper right of the image, roughly opposite Nuggety Creek, a route was surveyed down the true right side of the Buller towards Longford; closer to that location another survey line was started on the true left side. These surveys continued past Murchison (in the middle on the south side of the river) and onwards towards Ariki Falls which is the loop in the river to the far left side of the image – note that the highway follows the river, but the railway probably would have cut across the loop. The source document wasn’t detailed enough to show exactly where the survey lines went so I in part followed the local major road routes. I think that the railway ended up following the true left route as far as Longford under construction and that the Mangles River would have been bridged near the current road bridge.
There will be another post tomorrow of some other parts of the map that is currently being completed for publication, and then the map itself will be published, which should occur tomorrow or Tuesday. It will appear on the Skydrive website as usual, where the draft in Word format is currently being saved, and will be the first map publication to use vector graphics maps, which will greatly improve the print quality.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hornby Industrial Line Maps

The first reference map samples of the new GIS based maps have been produced in the NZ Rail Maps project and uploaded into my Skydrive area. I have a couple of Live accounts with a Skydrive each, and this particular one has 25 GB available. We will have to see how that works out space wise. I have opted to leave the old Trainweb site intact as a historical archive for anyone who wants the KML versions, but they will not be updated as it is too much work, therefore they are becoming dated.
Here are the two maps that cover the HIL:
The full map complete with data table and key can be downloaded from the NZ Rail Maps Skydrive as linked above, in both docx and pdf versions. Office 2013 which I am using supports automatic saving to Skydrive, so the latest version will always be there.
When I dug around on the web I found these two articles on a modelling site:
Of course, that is one of my photos in one of the articles. I’ll put that in below.
Here is the schematic from the other article:
Being a schematic it isn’t to scale. My next line will be to see if I can get someone to turn it into a map, if they want to contribute it to my map. By the looks of it the sidings were considerably more extensive than what I have drawn. Obviously my ones were based on what can be traced today from GE, and I don’t actually know how many of those sidings are still in use.
Here are some photos from my collections:
This one appeared in one of the above articles with the note that a lot has changed in five years. It was taken looking north from Halswell Junction Road in the area known as the sidings loop. This is where a lot (but not all) of the sidings came off.
Also taken from HJ Road crossing but looking the other way, we can see at least a couple of sidings and other bits and pieces. Including what appears to be a kilometre post, probably 2 km.
Looking in the same direction from somewhere further south, the Watties siding would appear to be in the distance beyond the 2.5 km peg.
End of rails in September 1998 was here but I don’t think there was any traffic beyond the Watties siding and had not been for a number of years.  I only went to Prebbleton that day and didn’t look at the rest of the line. All the track is still there today but much overgrown. So far I haven’t found anything to document if that loading shelter in the background was over a siding. When I took these photos the demolition of the overbridge had just been completed.
This is taken from Springs Road where the rails ended (the removal of the bridge enforced this) and clearly shows the shelter over the line at the back of Polarcold’s premises. When this photo was taken in 1998 the local landowners were pushing for the track to be lifted and the land sold to them. The change of government the following year appears to have stopped this in its tracks, and today, 14 years later, all the track is still there. The major difference today is the cycleway along the far side of the tracks.
So here’s the last photo for this article. This is looking down into Prebbleton under the bridge. As you can see the tracksets have been lifted and stacked to prevent anything from leaving the yard. The reason this was done was that the yard was then occupied by Rodger Redward’s Southern Rail project, and they had acquired a reputation for doing joyrides up and down the line, which was not permitted outside station limits of the yard. Due to the fact that SR had defaulted on their rental payments, sometime around 1988-89 (may have been just after Ferrymead 125) the tracks were put back in place and then everything on the rails was towed to Linwood Loco for disposal. As it happened, Redward bought some stuff back and moved it to another site, the old Andersons Foundry at Woolston, where it sat until he finally left Christchurch a few years later – at which time a friend of mine got the job of sending the stuff to various museums around the South Island (other than Canterbury).
Next time around I’ll have some photos from my trip up the line last Saturday – the last article on the Selwyn River bridge showed just some of these.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Selwyn River Bridge on the Southbridge Branch

Yesterday I had an opportunity to trace part of the route of the Southbridge Branch and photographed various locations. One of these was the only substantial river crossing on the entire line – the Selwyn River bridge which was located between Ellesmere and Lake Road stations.
In order to keep down the construction costs, the location where the bridge could be the shortest was chosen. This meant the S bend shown had to be negotiated by the railway, and as it happened the highway of the time followed a similar deviation. Here is another map which shows a lot more of the road and railway.
SB Selwyn Crossing
Leeston Road is the main road and in order to get across the Selwyn River, by the time the line closed, there was a bridge right alongside the rail bridge, with the two roads at each end, which are called Old Bridge Road North and Old Bridge Road South. The real question is why there were two bridges at all. When the railway was built, it was an era when combined bridges were common, and such a bridge would have not been inconvenient to the travelling public because there were not that many trains on a branch line. So why was there not a combined bridge (as far as we know)?
Probably because there was a ford for road traffic to begin with. The current highway bridge is at Chamberlains Ford – the access road to the old bridge now goes down into the riverbed to get to the well known picnic spot and camping area. So the highway bridge possibly did not come until later, and the rail bridge was probably unsuitable for conversion as such. At any rate, all the maps I have for the branch show two separate bridges at the location, right next to each other. Today there is no trace of the highway bridge, but the south abutment of the rail bridge is still visible, made of concrete. The north end is not easily accessible as it is on private property.
At the south end, the road (rail in the grass to the left) used to go straight ahead onto respective bridges. The road now goes down into the Chamberlains Ford camping and recreational area.
The rail bridge abutment at the south side.
Road approaching the crossing from the north side – the railway was immediately to its right.
Although in that era most main roads were notoriously twisty – traffic speeds and densities being far lower – this sort of bend in a railway is still relatively uncommon to see on the flat Canterbury plains, as it was not necessary due to terrain, which often leads to a lot of curvature. I would guess the two curves were fairly sharp and would have slowed trains, but in fact rail speeds on a branch would not have been very high – probably 40 km/h maximum. Another common trick with bridges in the early days of railway construction in NZ was to make them lower than the rest of a line, which means a short sharp grade at each end descending down. Even today the Waipara River bridge on the MNL is like this.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Railway station redevelopment focuses attention on site uses

As the old station slowly disappears from view, plans have been announced for the redevelopment of the land formerly occupied by the Hoyts 8 and part of the old building (the rest of the land is owned by Science Alive, who have not announced their plans). This has focused attention to other possible uses of the site such as a transport exchange. 

The station as seen last night. Not much left now.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Major Christchurch bus service changes for hub-spoke model

This email was sent to me in response to my submission on public consultation of Ecan's proposed bus service changes.
In June 2012 Environment Canterbury proposed changes to a number of bus routes in Christchurch and the Waimakariri District. We received over 700 submissions about these proposals. We’ve read through and considered all of these submissions, and some changes have been made to the initial proposal to reflect what we’ve heard.
The Environment Canterbury Commissioners approved the following new bus routes at their meeting on 27 September 2012:
  • 1 Rangiora and Belfast – Princess Margaret Hospital
  • 1X Rangiora – City Express (weekday peak only)
  • 17 Bryndwr – Huntsbury
  • 28 Lyttelton and Rapaki – Papanui
  • 44 North Shore
  • 60 Hillmorton – Parklands
  • 95 Waikuku Beach/Pegasus – City (weekday peak only)
  • 107 Styx Mill – Northlands
  • 108 Casebrook – Northlands
  • 111 Westmorland – Sydenham
  • 114 Cashmere – Barrington
  • 115 Murray Aynsley – Sydenham
  • 118 St Albans – Northlands
  • 119 Bishopdale – Northlands
  • 120 Burnside – Spreydon
  • 146 Marshland – The Palms
  • 951 Pegasus – Kaiapoi
  • 952 Waikuku Beach – Kaiapoi
  • Extension of The Comet service to Redwood
These services will begin operating in December 2012.
Changes to the routes proposed in the consultation have been made in the following areas:
Sheffield Crescent/Wairakei Rd
The service from the central city to Sheffield Crescent via Wairakei Rd, Strowan Rd and Rossall St will be retained following feedback about the importance of this link. The route will now travel along Roydvale Ave and Sir William Pickering Dr itself to provide better access to the businesses in this area, and will be called 17 Bryndwr – Huntsbury.
The 119 Bishopdale service will travel from Sheffield Crescent to Northlands Mall via Bishopdale Mall. Passengers wishing to continue to Merivale and the central city will connect with route 1 here.
Casebrook and Styx Mill
The routes in these areas have been reworked following feedback about directness and coverage. Route 107 Styx Mill – Northlands will travel to and from Northlands Mall via Main North Rd, Northcote Rd, Veitches Rd, Sawyers Arms Rd and Gardiners Rd (and then continue on to the Northwood Supa Centa as detailed below). Route 108 Casebrook – Northlands will travel to and from Northlands Mall via Sawyers Arms Rd, Highsted Rd, Claridges Rd, Grampian St, Cavendish Rd, Regents Park Drive and Styx Mill Rd (and will then continue on to Northwood as detailed below).
There will now be two services that travel into Northwood following concerns about the proposed coverage in this area. Route 107 Styx Mill – Northlands will begin and end at the Northwood Supa Centa, and will travel through Northwood via O’Neill Ave, Saracen Ave, Beechwood Ave and Hussey Rd (same as the current route 11 service). Route 108 Casebrook – Northlands will begin and end at Northwood Park, and travel via Northwood Boulevard (same as the current route 12 service).
Both routes 107 and 108 will travel to and from Northlands Mall, and passengers wishing to continue to Merivale and the central city will connect with route 1 here.
The bus service to Redwood will become part of The Comet route, which travels to Northlands Mall, and then on to the Sheffield Crescent area, the Airport, Avonhead and Hornby. Passengers wishing to travel to Merivale and the central city will connect with route 1 at Northlands Mall.
St Albans
The 118 St Albans service will travel between Edgeware Village and Northlands Mall. Following feedback about the difficulty in travelling from this area to the central city, the route will now have a good connection with route 28 at Edgeware Village.
The 44 North Shore service will travel via Flockton St, Westminster St, Kensington Ave, Innes Rd, Briggs Rd and Emmett St in both directions, as concern was raised about the difficulty in travelling from these streets to the central city. This service will replace the current route 45 service, and will have the same route between The Palms and North Shore.
The 146 Marshland service will travel from Alpine View Lane to The Palms via Prestons Rd, Burwood Rd, Lake Terrace Rd and Marshland Rd. Passengers wishing to travel to the central city will connect with route 60 at The Palms. No bus services will travel on Joy St.
Provision has also been made to extend this service on to Dallington in the future. This extension may or may not begin at the same time as the changes take effect, depending on the progress of road works.
Moorhouse Ave/CPIT
Following feedback about the importance of the link between the St Martins area and CPIT, route 17 Bryndwr – Huntsbury will now travel along Moorhouse Ave past CPIT.
There was significant public feedback about the removal of the direct Metro service between Woodend and Rangiora. However retention of the current service is not possible given existing patronage levels. We are working closely with the North Canterbury Minibus Trust to set up a new service between the two towns.
The new services completely replace the following Metro routes:
  • 8 Casebrook - Hoon Hay
  • 9 Wairakei
  • 11 Styx Mill - Westmorland
  • 12 Northwood - Cashmere
  • 14 Harewood -Dyers Pass
  • 15 Bishopdale - Beckenham
  • 18 St Albans - Huntsbury
  • 20 Burnside - Barrington
  • 22 Redwood - Spreydon
  • 28 Lyttelton and Rapaki
  • 45 North Shore
  • 46 Marshland
  • 60 Parklands
  • All Northern star routes (90, 92, 912 and 913)
All other existing Metro services (including The Orbiter and Metrostar) are unaffected by these changes.
Timetables for the new routes will be available from mid November 2012.
To read the media release about these network changes and see a map of full bus network that will be operating from December 2012 please click here.
If you have any questions about these changes please email, or call Metroinfo on 366 8855.
Kind regards,
The Metro team

CCC made its own submission to the Ecan plan as it turns out - disagreeing with the changes.

The route 18 to Huntsbury which I personally use to get to or from town was changed into Route 17 Bryndwr-Huntsbury with a reduction in service frequency to daytime offpeak hourly (previously half-hourly). This timetable frequency was subsequently restored to the half-hourly frequency, and illustrates that the key intention of the plan was to slash bus services, in spite of all the hype about improving services.

The cut to services is a throwback to the early 1990s when Ecan first took the services over under National's reforms to public transport provision. That was when services were required to be tendered for competition, The services we got at the time were actually very poor with a lot of very cheap tenders being awarded to operators using old and run down buses. From what I can recall Blue Star Taxis actually operated the airport service for a time using a Jap import school bus type of vehicle. I am guessing the same issue - lack of subsidised funding for the services. We have got so much better services until this recent change because big improvements in funding and consequently the standard of services were made by subsequent administrations over about a 15 year period and that includes the low floor accessible buses that run most of the routes now.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Christchurch Railway Station Diary - 2012-09-22

This series of shots lets us recall when this used to be a full size railway yard and trains used to pull up at this platform. That last happened around 20 years ago.
As you can see the demolition is taking shape along the back of the building – the side that faced the railway tracks. This leaves the street frontage to be removed at a later time when possibly the road may have to be partially closed. The work is proceeding in fits and starts, with the big long reach excavator hired in to demolish the clock tower being virtually idle this week. Of interest here is the exposure of the floor directly above the old men’s toilets in the left of the picture. I’m unsure what happens when they break through the floor and have to remove the toilets, do they have to plug the sewer pipes? Interesting also to see the windows facing rearward on the top floor at the front. The more central parts had skylights and light wells in them as referred to in an earlier post.
Looking through those street-facing windows from behind.
Looking inside one of the foyers through to the old booking hall area.
A slightly older view from trackside- in the left the painted surfaces (looking like they were just done yesterday) are on the inside of the light well, hence how tidy it all looks.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Addington Workshops Plan

This plan is traced from an old hand drawn diagram of the Addington Workshops site. Click on this picture to see a larger one. I am still working on this one and it will be made a bit better as time goes on.
This one shows just the tracks.
In the maps I have split Addington into 1982 and 2009 views. Therefore instead of combining elements of both into one plan, the distinct eras will be shown in the separate plans. Therefore the two sets of main lines going north will be in the two separate plans. The above is a combined plan, but since then the details have been split out.
I was surprised when I mapped in the old MNL curve that it went under the current Blenheim Road bridge. I had always assumed it went through the area where the Way and Works depot sidings are to the right. But this area – still unbuilt on today – was actually used for carparking at the workshops.
This plan is similar to the above one except it shows the buildings and land use around the workshops. It also shows some of the roads which have changed. Whiteleigh Ave was not built through then, even although it existed on the south side. Clarence Street went across the railway tracks just outside the entrance of the current station and then traffic had to make two sharp 90 degree turns to get onto Whiteleigh Ave which went through to Barrington Ave. Putting Whiteleigh Ave through was a necessary roading improvement and it was done around 1989 from memory. It went either along one side of , or possibly through, the Plant Zone site which I have not shown on this plan, that is still to be added. Going off Clarence Street on the left, Margaret Street, Bell Street and Levin Street were where railway houses were built for the workers at the workshops. These streets are all gone now. At the top right, changes were made in Lowe Street and Tyne Street. The level crossing across Lowe Street to Lester Lane was closed and the end of Lowe Street and Tyne Street was cut off when the new curve tracks were built from the new railway station in the 1990s. The most recent change, about ten years ago, was the closing of the Blenheim Road bridge at the top of the picture. The new bridge went through what used to be the railcar shops and the site of a few other buildings as well. So there is a lot of history now gone in that area.

Christchurch Station Yard plan

In the current progress at the NZ Rail Maps project I am drawing yard plans for all the yards around Christchurch. This one is Christchurch itself and is based on an old plan that you can see here, along with old photos and aerials of the station. This is still being worked on and is not complete but most of the major details are visible. (Click on the picture to see it in a larger size)
The green blocks are the major buildings that were around the site. It is timely to be putting this together with the main station building coming down. On the south side the substation next to the Colombo Street bridge remains in place, along with the amenity block and social hall. On the left of the amenity block is A Shed. This was still in place when the station opened, but was demolished at some later time, certainly it was gone by the 1980s when I first became acquainted with the station precint.
The plan at this stage is not going to be 100% accurate, because the only way of assuring this is to be tracing directly over an aerial photo. That was the way I was able to do thing with Middleton and Waltham yards.

Christchurch Station Demolition proceeding

My last post on this subject wondered why this was going so slowly and theorised that maybe the contractors were having mechanical problems with their equipment. However it has become clear there was a cunning plan all thought out when work started on the clock tower a week ago.
The plan being, that in order to limit encroachment onto Moorhouse Ave (which already is significant), machinery would demolish the clock tower from the side. In order to be able to get a long reach excavator in close enough, the wing on that side was demolished. The delay was the time it took to dig out the basement, which was then filled in to make a base for the excavator to work from. In order to guard against debris falling onto Moorhouse Ave some shipping containers have been stacked up along the frontage.
Evidently this particular machine has been hired in to perform the clock tower demolition, due to its height. I don’t how much this particular machine weighs, the biggest such machine in Christchurch which has been used to demolish some of the highrise buildings weighs over 200 tonnes. You can see this boom is pretty long, and the base unit would have to be heavily counterweighted in order to balance the weight and length of that boom when operating at full reach. In other words there are some big heavy weights attached to the rear of the base unit of the excavator, and the hydraulic rams in the front would be pretty powerful because they have to lift the whole boom.
This is what the west end of the station looks like right now. The brickwork has been ripped off the front or maybe it fell off with the vibration from the machinery at work. So while the machinery works away on the clock tower, the work has started on the main part of the building at the opposite end.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Christchurch old station demolition

Within I should think the last couple of days the heavy machinery has moved in and started to knock down the station proper. Previous work has been stripping out the interior, which included asbestos removal.
Inside the west end main entrance, stripped of all its doors and fittings.
What that same entrance looked like about ten years ago when the building was being operated by Science Alive.
The inside of both of the entrance foyers was similar. I can’t say which foyer this was – you can see the phone booths which were probably only in one place in the station so it could have been the west end one. What you can see in this photo is the translucent plastic ceiling panels which let light in from the light well above. Aerial photos show that there were these two light wells built into the station structure which let light into the two foyers as well as some of the office areas in the floors above. In the top photo you can clearly see the light well in the foyer ceiling.
Taken about 10 years ago this is the western foyer looking out to what used to be the platform and railway yards – later carparking. The doors are the originals except for the centre pair which have been removed and replaced by sliding automatic doors. I think we can be reasonably certain that the outer foyer is non original with glass panelling and pairs of doors at each corner. Going up, I doubt the air curtain, ceiling and lighting have any originality to them.
I think the main question I have about the station is “Where have those doors gone”? Someone went to a bit of trouble to have them stripped out – maybe as scrap? I haven’t heard about any local efforts to preserve any of the historical station features, which is somewhat surprising.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Mapping the old Wellington and Manawatu Railway

About ten years ago Nic Campbell sent me his recollections on the surviving remnants of this railway, which I reproduce below:
Wellington to Johnsonville section: Around the Wellington Yards a remnant building from the old WMR Thorndon station complex still persists just north of the now partly demolished Davis Street foot-bridge. Up until a few years ago this wooden single story structure was the studio for the NZR Publicity and Advertising Branch. The embankment up to the bridge across the Hutt Road is still original although the bridge itself has been replaced because the original lovely hardwood truss spans were severely damaged after being struck by an over-height load on a motor lorry in 1984 (sound familiar?) The north abutment of this bridge carried a marble plaque celebrating the inarguation of the WMR which was removed during the rebuilding and I believe is now in the possession of the NZRLS. I understand the wording is now very much deteriorated but it was quite readable when still in place in the late 1970s.
The right-of-way from the bridge to Johnsonville still retains much of its original character although formerly there was no Wadestown Loop. In WMR days the only stations on this section were Ngaio (in WMR days called Crofton) and Khandallah. It was possible a few years back, when there were no Sunday services to walk the line, (with proper permission of course) and these forays presented fascinating insights into the engineering techniques employed. One can only wonder that such a line of railway was ever contemplated. It is easy to see why the Government of the time wished to be relieved of the costs and responsibility and it must have been with relief that they passed it over to the WMR to complete. Approaching Johnsonville the line deviates from the old alignment slightly and runs across an elevated embankment as it approaches the new station. There is nothing left of the vast stockyards that once were a feature of the station area. The tunnels on the Johnsonville line are No.1Outlet (126m), No.2 Kaiwarra 98m), No.3 Gorge 151m), No.4 Lizard (199m), No.5 Ngaio (127m), No.6 Kaka (104m) and the one between Raroa and Johnsonville is No.7. Tui (119m.) Since electrification railwaymen sometimes say about this truncated section. "7 miles, 7 tunnels, 7 stations"
Johnsonville to Porirua section: As most of us know the Johnsonville on-ramp to the motorway follows the original line of railway north from Johnsonville. The old formation crossed what is now the motorway at a small angle and entered a cutting on the north side some 500 metres from the where the on-ramp joins the motorway proper. This cutting is still obvious although now choked with scrub and is blocked completely after 50 metres or so by fill used for road construction when the Paparangi sub-division was being developed.
The next obvious sign of the old right-of way are the two concrete abutments where the Belmont Viaduct once stood. The northern abutment is still easily seen but the southern one, now in a backyard, is vine covered and needs a little study to discern its location. In the gully the old concrete footings and some rusted ironwork can be found if one wishes to fight through the undergrowth. The right-of-way north from here can be discerned heading in a shallow curve towards a hill that once had a cutting running through to the motorway and was obvious until a few years ago when it too was filled for more development. The line then cuts across the motorway at a sharp angle and continues along its west side but slightly below road level. It is not continually visible from the motorway but because of the heavy earthworks needed in the hilly country the line can be easily traced on foot as it slowly descends through a succession of cuts and fills.
At the Takapu Road off-ramp the line swept in a big curve to the east, before crossing the Takapu Stream. The north Takapu bridge abutment used to be easily seen on the service road running up to the reservoir and was used by local contractors as a loading bank. The Takapu stream was piped and filled over during motorway construction so that little else remains. From the site of the abutment a good view can be obtained of the line as it approached the curve from the south along sidlings and through cuttings. All traces of the line as it curved to the west from this abutment are now buried under the motorway but some remnants are visible as it curved to the north again around the hill at the upper end of the Takapu reserve. Sadly this old abutment was removed in 2002 for no other reason than a local contractor needed some handy fill for a road maintenance job.
From here the line descended towards Tawa Flat along a sidling immediately above the existing NIMT and was easily visible until a few years ago from the Old Main Road. Much of the line is now in backyards and some housing has taken advantage of the earthworks for building. I know two houses at the bottom of Florio Terrace, a side street off Taylor Drive, are built on the old right-of-way. Trees and scrub shield most of it these days but during the winter when foliage is less dense it is still possible to view parts of it. The lower part of this sidling curved to the east slightly and descended down part of Taylor Terrace then along Duncan Street to the old Tawa Flat station. Some of the platform seal and part of the station retaining wall were still visible above the railway in Duncan Street some year's back but I do not know if they can still be seen. From here the line continued more or less along Duncan Terrace until joining the existing right-of-way opposite Tawa College and near the tennis club. The site is grassed and remains prominent despite the passing of some 64 years. From here to Porirua nothing of any interest remains although the old Porirua station was moved to a back yard in Linden and could be seen, over a fence, close to Linden station until it was destroyed by fire a couple years ago.
Porirua to Pukerua Bay section: Sad to say betterments and relocation have all but obliterated anything worthwhile. An old WMR iron gate existed in the small copse just north of Porirua station a few years ago but as this became a hang-out for street kids for a while I do not know if it is still there. A short section of rock revetment that protected the seaward side of the old alignment remains just north of the over-bridge connecting SH1. A small length of the old embankment that twisted around the shore of the harbour is visible near Romedale Road and other traces of the embankment can be found here and there. The original WMR bridge was sited immediately east of the present road bridge at Paremata and was approached from the south through a charming little cutting in what was then a rocky headland jutting into the harbour. The SH1 bridge now occupies the approximate location of the old harbour bridge. Most of the old formation was eliminated when the line was duplicated in the 1960s and the land reclaimed as far seaward as the existing main line. On each side of the road bridge part the tall concrete abutments of the old WMR bridge were preserved by a sensitive MOW civil engineer when the road bridge approaches were altered about 1987 but these were finally destroyed when the bridge was duplicated in 2002 and now nothing remains for posterity.
The old single-track right-of-way from this bridge was partly destroyed during construction of the Mana marina and finally completely annihilated when the ill-fated fast ferry terminal complex was constructed. Small parts of the old embankment are visible from Ngatitoa Domain but from the BP service station the old right of way remnants which used to form a walking track alongside the road as far as the Plimmerton road crossing, have now been almost completely obliterated by widening of State Highway One at this location. On the Plimmerton bank remnants of the old single track line (pre 1940) can still be seen at various places, especially above Black Bridge (Airlie Road) curving through gullies, but they become less obvious as vegetation becomes more verdant.
Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki section: Just above South Junction broken bricks and the remains of the original contractors brick kiln can still be seen. This was where most of the bricks were made for lining the nearby tunnels. It is of interest that some of the bricks used on the portals of the abandoned Tunnel 12 have an arrow mark showing prisoners at the old Te Aro jail made them. Nearby are the old foundations of the explosive storage shed. From South Junction to North Junction the line down the hill, except for the overhead wire, remains much as it must have been in WMR days. At the north end of No.5 tunnel the original dead-man post used to lower locomotives and wagons down to the beach during construction remains imbedded in the ground. (See picture on page 32 in Hoy's West of the Tararuas and page 33 in Cassell's Uncommon Carrier) The rockslide protection shed endures over the south end of No.6 tunnel, probably maintained and renewed over the years but still there. Also still evident from the road below is the spread of the spoil from the muck tipple at the seaward end of the central adit used to speed construction of this tunnel. Some years ago the old No.12 tunnel (abandoned in 1900) could be explored from both ends although blocked by a rock fall halfway along. This tunnel also had a marble commemorative plaque on the north portal but it was removed illegally at some time and its whereabouts is not known. It is believed to have been souvenired. Recent weatherproofing works on the hill above the Bean Fence necessitated demolishing the north end of the old tunnel but the south end remains untouched but is partly blocked and now unsafe to enter.
The first tunnel out of Wellington on the contemporary route is Tawa No.1 (1238m) followed by Tawa No.2 (4323m.) On the Paekakariki Bank they are No.3 Pukerua (153m), No.4 St. Kilda (290m), No.5 Seaview (278m), No.6 Brighton (244m) and the small one at the bottom is No.7 Neptune (59m.)
The old ballast quarry near the Fisherman's Table, originally opened by the WMR, can still be seen and explored. Some of the old loading machinery still remains but as this was also worked by the NZR one cannot be sure if any of the equipment goes back to WMR days. This siding was still noted in NZR Working Timetables right up until the about 1960.
Paekakariki used to be a treasure house of old WMR artifacts but no longer. The WMR contracted out refreshment services and it was known that much of the old crockery had been buried when the NZR took over. A few years ago some crockery was unearthed in the Paekakariki yards. Only a few entire pieces were recovered. The writer has some broken pieces from this dig in his collection.
Paekakariki to Manakau section: Generally, between these two points, the railway follows the same route it always has. Wainui a stopping place near Mackay's Crossing existed for a few years but its exact location is not now known. The first reminder of the WMR is found at the memorial cairn at Otaihanga erected in 1986 to commemorate the centenary of the completion of the line. A stopping place existed here with a short backshunt on the south side of the road crossing but was closed in 1901. The original old bridge pier foundations are still evident in the Waikanae River while the old abutments and some of the piles can sometimes be seen in the Otaki River after flood scouring. The site of Hadfields station and crossing loop remains very evident where the road curves around the old yard at the turnoff to Pekapeka Beach. Even more evident is the site of Hautere Cross station and yard where the road again curves out and back again opposite the Hautere vegetable stores. Hautere Cross, incidentally, was the name of the settlement that used to exist at the junction of Gorge Road and Te Horo-Hautere Cross Road, some 6k towards the hill. Old Hautere Road was the only access as Gorge Road did not exist at that time. Bob Meyer stated that a shelter shed was erected on the east side of the line immediately north of the Old Hautere Road crossing. Both these station precincts have been recorded in the Kapiti District Plan as sites of historical significance.
At the smaller stations WMR buildings were not replaced by the NZR but added to as necessary. Eventually, however, they were demolished or sold. The last remaining, as far as I know, are the one moved to the Tokomaru Steam Museum, and the old Te Horo station building, which has now been fully preserved and refurbished in a most sensitive way and opened in 2002 as a high quality accommodation site similar to that available at Ormondville station. It is operated as an adjunct to the Wineera Pottery. I understand that the Forest Lakes bridge is a WMR original but with modern strengthening as is the bridge over the road underpass at Manakau.
Manakau to Shannon section: I am not aware of anything connected to the WMR between Manakau and Levin other than that the line of railway follows the same route as it originally did. Levin station, however, has its iron verandah supports constructed from old WMR rail stock and a study will show the brand WMR is easily discernable. The only other place I knew that used old WMR rails for construction supports was the Taumarunui Loco sheds and they have been long since demolished. A deep gully is evident on the west side of the line as it passes through the centre of Levin. This gully is artificial and was excavated as a large borrow pit from which fill and shingle ballast was recovered to build embankments both north and south of the town. The line from Levin over the Koputaroa hill follows the original route but in many places it has been widened over the years ready for possible double tracking if ever thought necessary.
The next place of interest will be found a few kilometres south of Shannon beneath the Buckley Road over-bridge. This was the junction of the construction supply line built to bring rails from ships berthed at a nearby jetty in the Manawatu River and was known, I think, as the Buckley siding. The line of the old formation can be seen curving away around the toe of the hill and the farm track heading towards the river is built over the original right-of-way. Doug Hoy expressed some doubt that this formation actually carried the siding as it curves north and the original connection was thought to have curved south. On the other hand construction materials were needed in both directions and as this formation has the characteristics of a railway grade then it is probable there was access to the main line from both directions. Some borrow pits are evident further south but there is no road access.
Shannon to Linton section: Much of the line from Koputaroa to Linton was built through swamp country. South of Shannon this was overcome by both fill and extensive drainage works. Shannon station is, in essence, a WMR original structure and is well on the way to full preservation. North of Shannon it was necessary to dredge out the foundations for the track and build up the embankment with hard fill. Borrow pits are evident on the hills, in many places, along this stretch of line from where solid fill was obtained. This is especially apparent above the Makerua curve where the hill has been heavily excavated and cut back considerably. These hills were once coastal prominences before the flood plains developed. Just south of Makerua, before the Opiki road turn-off the bridge over the old Miranui flax tramway underpass is vintage WMR. The old flax tramway formation is very evident here on the east side of the highway. At Makerua the old platform was still alongside the line a few years ago and may still be there. The station shelter now serves as a hay barn on a nearby property on a the first side road off Tamatarau Road. One kilometre south of Tokomaru the short overbridge crossing above Ashlea Road is also an original WMR structure.
Linton to Longburn section: A couple of kilometres north of Linton station the new Manawatu Bridge and deviation built in 1960 made much of the old line redundant. A remnant remained in use as a stores siding serving Linton Military Camp until finally closed and lifted about 1986. The right-of-way can still be walked for a kilometre or so along the old camp siding to where it curved towards the old bridge. Since the prison has been built nearby exploration of the rest of the siding has become a little intimidating. River works and other constructions have completely obliterated any signs of the old permanent way beyond here in any case. A small stopping place and loop known as Whitmore Siding existed on the south side of the former bridge. Possibly, like the sidings at Otaihanga and Wainui it was only used as a construction depot. Whitmore was surveyed in blocks in the hope a settlement would rise here but now all that remains is the Whitmore Road leading to the old site south of Linton.
Across the river the old embankment can be easily seen coming in to join the new alignment a little south of the old freezing works. This embankment can be walked if one has the inclination as far as the northern abutment.
I have never been able to find anything of interest at Longburn but there has been so much redevelopment around the railway that perhaps this is not too suprising.

I intend to come back to this in future once having spoken to Nic again regarding some of what is stated. I am very interested in the Johnsonville to Porirua section in particular as any remaining formation for the most part being within a wide motorway reserve may be waiting to be rediscovered as time goes on, although this becomes less likely over time due to constant development, mostly in housing subdivisions and motorway upgrades.
At the time of writing this some mapping has been done of the Johnsonville-Tawa section in particular, the results seen below.
I am writing Nic’s comments as I received my copy of Rails Through The Valley and while it is a good collation of historical data it does not make any real attempt to determine what remnants exist today of the original line. Some data may be found on the Glenside Progressive Association’s website here however.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Vintage aircraft [4]

A few new clips from Youtube.
This is a Bristol Hercules engine from a Handley Page Hastings aircraft. This clip has about the best sound quality of the many clips I have seen of different aircraft engine, it is probably the most true one of the actual sound particularly in low frequency as cheap digital cameras that people often shoot with tend to have poor bass response. In case you wanted to know why it is so noisy… this engine has a cubic capacity of 2370 cubic inches and produces around 2000 horsepower at full power. By comparison a 2 litre car engine has a capacity of 125 cubic inches and produces maybe 70 horsepower. Also there are no mufflers fitted to any of the exhausts. There are 14 cylinders and because the engine is supercharged rather than turbocharged, the exhaust is straight out which means the noise level is quite high for the size of the engine, Hercules engines like Merlins were known for their high noise level and were not popular on passenger aircraft or with people who lived near airports where aircraft fitted with them flew from.
Restoring old aircraft engines and running them at public shows is a popular pastime and as we know the Bristol Freighter at Omaka has had engine restoration to allow the engines to be run and the aircraft taxied at shows within the last three years. The engineer who did the work to get it going also got hold of a spare engine which he mounted onto a trailer in a similar fashion to that shown above.
Here it is running somewhere in Christchurch City in 2011.
This clip shows the running of a Wright R-3350 engine from a B-29 bomber at night. Wright’s engines were not as good as Pratt and Whitney’s. They tended to be lower grade technology and engineering. For example when both manufacturers brought out engines around 1800 cubic inches, P&W made the jump to a two row 14 cylinder engine – Wright simply built another single row 9 cylinder engine which would have been of a larger diameter resulting in increased drag. It wasn’t until the R-2600 that Wrights built their first two row radial engine. The 2600 was the 14 cylinder version of the 3350. The latter was the biggest engine the US had when Boeing set out to put together the B-29 bomber. Wright’s decision initially to use cast fins on the cylinder head (the smaller P&W R-2800 had introduced milled fins because of the need for better cooling) was responsible for the overheating and engine fires that were such a problem when the B-29 first went into service. Although the engine design survived into the 1950s and powered the last of the great propeller airliners, they are still a less reliable engine than the R-2800 which accounts for the fact that more DC-6s are still flying today than DC-7s or Lockheed Constellations. Also Wrights went out of the engine business at the beginning of the jet age whereas Pratt & Whitney are still in business today. Technologically the largest successful radials were those with 18 cylinders. The P&W R-4360 with 28 cylinders in four rows was uneconomical for passenger aircraft operation. Wrights with the R-3350 and Bristol with the Centaurus were right to stay at 18 cylinders, although a 22 cylinder version of the R-3350 was considered. Bristol had planned several series of larger 18 cylinder engines but the Centaurus was the last model to reach production.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rail 150 Next Year

Next year will be the 150th anniversary of public rail networks in New Zealand. In 1988 we had the Rail 125 in which I made a bit more of a personal contribution to restoration at some of the rail heritage sites around North Canterbury. So now we will have Rail 150 and it’s interesting to note as a contrast to last time that the name “Ferrymead 150” has not been adopted.
That means we will see a great week of festivities, largely around Christchurch, which I think will include various mainline steam excursions of all kinds of characters.
Here by way of illustration is a steam excursion train heading up to Arthur’s Pass this morning, operated by Mainline Steam.
More Photos

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Christchurch suburban bus routes to be savaged by Ecan changes

Environment Canterbury which runs the Christchurch suburban bus services, has announced significant cuts to service operations in light of the changes in usage since the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011. 

Whilst there have been some earthquake related issues this has more of a feeling of being an opportunistic change that is designed to implement overall cuts to bus services, rather than being out of necessity following the earthquakes.

The changes being currently consulted on until 3th August will basically have the following effects:
Old Route Typical Old Frequency New Route(s) New Frequencies Notes
8 Hoon Hay – Casebrook 30 min daytime 1 plus 108 30 min peak / 60 min other Route 1 higher frequency
9 Wairakei 30 min daytime 1 plus 109 30 min peak / 60 min other Route 1 higher frequency
11 Westmorland-Styx Mill 30 min daytime 111 plus 1 plus 108 30 min peak / 60 min other Route 1 higher frequency
12 Northwood-Cashmere 30 min daytime 17 30 min peak / 60 min other May not need any transfer
14 Dyers Pass-Harewood 30 min daytime ? No new service to Dyers Pass
15 Bishopdale-Murray Aynsley 30 min daytime 115 plus 1 plus 131 60 min all times Route 1 higher frequency
18 Huntsbury-St Albans 30 min daytime MF/60 min SS 17 plus 132 30 min peak / 60 min other
20 Burnside-Barrington 30 min daytime MSa/60 min Su 120 30 min peak / 60 min other May not need any transfer
22 Spreydon-Redwood 30 min MF/60 min SS 122 plus 1 plus 120 30 min peak / 60 min other
46 Marshland-City 30 min MF/60 min SS 133 plus 1 60 min Route 1 higher frequency
90 Rangiora 30 min MSa/60 min Su 1 Similar Now runs to PMH instead of city
The real reasons for the loss of patronage up to this point have been due to a combination of the following:
  • Bad roads causing slower operation, route changes and partial closures
  • Loss of the bus exchange and the resulting temporary operations out of TWO city interchanges with very poor facilities and congestion
  • Central Station is a much poorer facility more reminiscent of Cathedral Square compared to the fully undercover Bus Exchange.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Christchurch Railway Station to be demolished

As regrettable as it may seem to some of us, Science Alive has announced that the former Christchurch Railway Station in Moorhouse Ave is too badly damaged to be repaired, and will be demolished. The announcement was made at the start of this month. This follows the demolition of the adjacent Hoyts 8 movie theatre.
I have created a special album to hold all my photos, past and present, of the station premises, and also added to it some aerials and general photos from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection. The demolition has not yet started but once it begins I can assure you, living quite close by, I expect to visit this site very regularly.
Duncan Winder photo of the east dock.
One of my photos of the east dock in 2003, which is the same today. The east dock was filled in and sealed over to form carparking. The pinkish building and the white section immediately behind it are new constructions by Science Alive and not part of the original station. The west dock area was built over by Hoyts 8 and no longer exists.
A Roy Sinclair photo of 1981, taken from the Colombo Street overbridge with numbered features: 1. Station building; 2. Signals location box; 3. Gas works; 4. Station footbridge; 5. Yardmaster’s office; 6. Freight train
2003 similar view down what was the main lines heading out of the yard to the west. A great many changes visible here. Pilgrim Place and the access road in the foreground following the railway line routes, with the current lines far right.
1980s view down the main platform from the footbridge. A passenger train having arrived. In the distance just above the signal gantries is what is now Harvey Normans’ retail premises while to its left can be seen B Shed, which later became the main goods shed for Christchurch until closed a few years ago. The signalbox for Christchurch yard can be seen at the top floor on the front of the station building.
Although from a different perspective and angle this is a very recent photo of the main platform. The top is now used for carparking in the main. The white building to the right was added by Science Alive and is not part of the railway premises. The signalbox still exists but is now used as part of someone’s office. The appearance of the clock tower has been altered by wood panelling added after the February 2011 earthquake to prevent the collapse of the unreinforced masonry brickwork.
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On the left we have a 2003 shot of the yardmaster’s office on the southern boundary.. It was the premises of Britten Engineering (of motorcycling fame) for a number of years after the Railways closed up. The much-altered building as it is today is seen in the right hand shot.
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2003 shot of the Railway Social Hall nearby at 154 Carlyle Street, next to Repcos. On the right we see its present day appearance and usage as commercial office space.
February 21 2012, Science Alive, Moorhouse Avenue.
Ross Becker’s aerial shot of the station taken recently. The old railway yards occupied what is now carpark to the right of the station in this photo. The original station design was quite symmetrical and alterations were clearly made at the west end to accommodate the Hoyts 8 movie theatre development of the mid 1990s. The light wells and skylights are original features of the premises, which apart from the changes at the west end and minor additions at the east end are mostly as built.
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Two segments of the former station footbridge sited at what is now Gasson Street crossing, are in use today on the cycleway alongside the Main North Line between Kilmarnock Street and Fendalton Road, one of them seen in the left hand photo. In the right hand photo, another segment is used as a footbridge in South Hagley Park. The cycleway segments have been altered to make them wider. The cycleway was built some 10 or more years ago and runs through to Papanui.
White’s Aviation aerial shot of the station and railway yards in 1962, soon after completion of the new building. Amongst the many changes today, the old footbridge at left opposite Madras Street was replaced by a modern concrete footbridge, which was demolished after the station closed. Gasson Street on the south side was then extended through the bridge site to join Madras Street and Moorhouse Ave. Much of the housing visible on the south side of the railway lines has gone now, replaced by industrial development in the area. Also visible at the south side are C and D sheds to the left and middle, and the old A shed to the right, which certainly had been gone a long time by the era in which the station became known to me.