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.