Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Dunedin-Port Chalmers Railway [1]: Pelichet Bay

The Dunedin-Port Chalmers Railway was the first railway constructed in the Dunedin area and was built under the auspices of the Otago Provincial Council. Opened in January 1873, it was part of the NZR network from April that year and had the distinction of being the first railway in New Zealand that was constructed to what became the NZ standard gauge of 1067 mm. The route along the coast north of Dunedin as far as Sawyers Bay has had many alterations over the years, chiefly in straightening and duplicating the line from the early 1920s. The first such section resulted in the reclamation of Pelichet Bay, part of which was already enclosed by the original railway embankment of 1873, by building a causeway in the harbour. The most inward part of the bay became Logan Park, while the part captured in 1924, which had included docks, became industrial land and now includes the site of Dunedin Stadium. From 1925 until 1948 further causeways changed the shoreline all along the route, as many formerly open bays became enclosed. Although the tunnel at Sawyers Bay was duplicated, the second track never reached that station and much of the double track along the route has since been singled due to the reduction of traffic volume since the 1980s.


To kick things off here is the map around the Pelichet Bay area. The old route of the DPCR which became the Main South Line north of Dunedin, ran along what is now Anzac Ave north of Frederick St. There was a station near the Water of Leith bridge, on what was then the foreshore. At Union St the railway ran along the south side of this street until it reached the end of the diversion. As the map shows this is all around the current Dunedin stadium site. There have been other railway related changes in this area more recently, most notably at the north side of the present MSL, where some sidings were torn up to make way for the diversion of State Highway 88.

The Quail Atlas records that the MSL deviation at Pelichet Bay was opened in 1925. Anzac Ave is supposed to have been built through in 1924. One explanation for the discrepancy could be that the deviation was completed and brought into use with a single track first, allowing the old line to be closed, and then the date of 1925 is when the second track was completed.

There is quite a bit more work to do in updating the rest of the map to Sawyers Bay and additional parts will be published as this takes place.

As happens from time to time the map symbology has been revised, in this case the symbols for rail trail and changed road have been swapped so that the former looks more like a railway track and the latter looks more like a road. The main difference you will see in the above map is that the symbol for “Rail Line Lifted” has been given a thicker border to make it stand out more (see the section next to the stadium for example) and the style for “Rail Reuse Road” as seen on the first part of Anzac Ave now uses the same ellipse overlaid onto the standard road line so they are harmonised.

Other changes made include the tunnel symbols to also make them stand out more and tweaking a few others. This is the 33rd set of map styles since the project began 30 months ago. Obviously I try to avoid making lots of changes all the time but this is a good example of a good reason for making the latest change. Styles are hard to choose as they have to avoid cluttering the map too much and also what looks good in Qgis doesn’t always look the same when it has been rendered into a picture or PDF so a lot of tweaking is needed to get the different styles to stand out from each other and also avoid making the map look too busy. The scale shown above is not commonly used so normally I would have a larger scale in a map like the above one so some of the detail stands out better instead of being crowded together, nevertheless I feel the map above works very well at what is a relatively small scale for these maps.