Saturday, 27 May 2017

NRMNZ admits they cannot be as big as they had hoped

At Ferrymead where there are already several rail heritage organisations based (CRS, Two Foot Railway, DTG, HVRC etc) there has also sprung up in recent years a "National Railway Museum of New Zealand".

The main problem it faces is being a private organisation rather than one that is supported by the government. If you are going to have a national museum it would have to be a state run body as this is the only way of getting past the parochialism that inevitably infests hobbyist outfits which characterises the majority of the rail heritage community in NZ. Of course there is nothing to stop anyone from calling themselves a "national museum" but politics will get in the way of any privately run outfit from being able to claim the same level of credibility as something that is run by the government.

There has been a change of leadership at NRM over the last few months and with that has come a realisation they will have to scale down the size of the project which has been going pretty slowly up to this point. Unfortunately doing this also means they risk that it becomes less of a "national" scale of operation and more on the level of most of the individual sites that are in other main centres.

The detail in the FRONZ newsletter highlights that most of the rail heritage organisations of NZ survive mainly on fundraising from charitable grant sources as their members are few in number and have only limited ability to spend on the projects that are undertaken. 

A realistic view is that the project has been too ambitious and wide ranging with a lot of duplication of what is happening at other sites, including other groups at Ferrymead. In other words, they seem to have wanted to be everything possible at one site. The problem with this is pretty obvious, and that is that it will require enormous finances and other resources which are impossible to achieve. Ferrymead is already chockablock with way more stuff than any of the groups at it could ever possibly restore in the foreseeable or long term future, considering for example just one group, the CRS, has sheds full of stuff that haven't been touched in their 50 years of operation. The problem all museums face is keeping their collections within a manageable size and this can be contrasted with the mention in the same FRONZ newsletter of MOTAT's situation with 80% of their collection stored offsite. The risk then is that some of the stuff will deteriorate to the point where it is beyond restoration. Other stuff will never ever see the light of day.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Whaleoil's take on "Phil Goff won’t confirm he’ll sell the Ports of Auckland"

Goff would only say he has had wide-ranging discussions on Auckland’s port but no specific proposal on ownership has been presented to him.
In politician-speak, that is:  Yes.  Yes I am going to try and sell it.  

My personal comment: remember it was Labour mayor Garry Moore who tried to sell off Ports of Lyttelton when he was in office in Christchurch. This elicited huge controversy from many of Moore's own fellow Labour politicians, and it was never carried through.

As Slater says, it becomes a question of ideology to be selling income generating assets (even given Slater's own right wing affiliations) as once they are sold the income from the sale has to be balanced against the fact that the dividends the port company pays are a continuing income source, a return on investment to the city that keeps on paying year after year.

In my view the City of Auckland has been a poor example of socially responsible or community ownership because they have sought to maximise their income at all costs then looked the other way when the result is port company management are forced to casualise and contract out their workforce and cut their terms and conditions in order to reduce costs so they can pay the bigger dividend. In other words the short term financial gains are a far bigger imperative for Auckland Council than the socially irresponsible impact of cutting the wages bill for staff who are in a lower paid sector of the workforce.

On the other hand there are significant questions about the need for the city to own any business activity that is competing against other businesses in the marketplace and for which there is not an imperative that public ownership is necessary or desirable to ensure there is sufficient oversight of monopoly powers. Port of Tauranga has been quite successful in partially private ownership being now NZ's biggest port. They would be likely to look to take a stake in POAL to protect their strategic interest, particularly if POAL is floated on the stockmarket.

The biggest issue overall is that the wider public interest overrides the political interests of the mayor and elected councillors. Local government politics has been becoming more and more geared towards political interests, vote buying and insatiable greed for more and more funds to do this, and in general, accountability and scrutiny of local governance is much weaker than at central government level. The extent to which local government politicians are prepared to jump on the bandwagon of selling off things or constantly demanding greater dividends or lower operating costs is becoming so bad, look at GWRC with the debacle over the new bus services in Wellington for a recent example of this. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

7 months and one winter until SH1 reopens

These comments about the work on SH1 are pretty accurate. They come after Winston Peters flew into Kaikoura with Denis O'Rourke to claim there was next to no work being done and repairs were way too slow.

The highway re-opening project in actuality is a massive job and the works are huge. If you look at how difficult it has been to keep the Manawatu Gorge open (currently it's closed because of some more serious slips and the re-opening keeps getting pushed back) then it's easy to understand why the SH1 reconstruction on the Kaikoura Coast is so major.

GWRC: Brand new buses headed for Wellington

Essentially what we get from this change of the bus system in Wellington is the same smoke and mirrors as seen in other centres like Christchurch and Dunedin. A "better bus system" is one that is cheaper to run in order for politicians to have more money to spend on vote buying exercises like fare concessions.

As is abundantly clear from other recent headlines posted here the bus drivers are up in arms that this lower service cost is being achieved by cutting their wages and conditions. 

It is clear that one method implemented for cost savings is to bring in a hub-spoke model as other centres have done, where low volume routes are changed into local services transferring to a high volume route at a local hub.

Key summary is many of the claims made by GWRC about improving the bus system are very questionable. There is a clear lack of honesty in spinning these changes as an improved system as user experiences will, in actuality, vary widely.

Phil Goff coy about privatisation of Ports of Auckland

Monday, 15 May 2017

Horahora Power Station [2]

Since I first published on this subject last year I have found a more detailed map that shows where key infrastructure was placed on the site.

I suggest you refer to that map for more detail, I have updated mine to show where the key sites are based on the detail provided.

The following pictures are specific aerial photos obtained of the Horahora Power Station.

A Whites Aviation photo from the 1940s of the Horahora power scheme. The dam and intake structure are upper left with the power station lower right. 

Another Whites Aviation aerial of 1946. This one gives a more general view of the village area. In the background can be seen the Horahora Road higher up with the present day bridge crossing the Pokaiwhenua Stream.

Auckland Weekly News photo of February 1911 showing the headrace construction, note the light rail tracks used to move material. The waste soil was tipped into the Waikato River.

The dam and intake control gates under construction in March 1913 (Auckland Weekly News).

The headrace which carries the water from the intake to the powerhouse at right. Seen in April 1913.

Wellington bus services will stop as drivers meet to discuss 'dire' new employer

KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy: Our Cook Strait emergency lifeline won't hold up in a big quake

Christchurch's Buckleys Rd bus stop should be moved, councillors say

Millions of ratepayer dollars being spent to cut Wellington bus drivers' pay, union says

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Makohine Viaduct

Hocken Library

Old Dunedin Railway Station

Hocken Library (click on photo to view entry details)

Ballast cleaner train Christchurch

20150222 125848 Canon IXUS 135
At Gasson St Crossing, Christchurch. Which is where the footbridge used to cross the old Christchurch yard.

Dunedin-Mosgiel Improvement Works 1907-1914

Few people would know today that more than 100 years ago the railway to the south of Dunedin was very different than it is today. The large embankment as it can be seen in many places, particularly between Dunedin and Caversham, simply did not exist in the original construction works as the railway was built. Moreover, by digging around and exploring the area a bit more, it is possible to discover two disused railway tunnels, one buried beneath the streets of suburban Caversham, that have been disused and virtually forgotten for more than a century. How did this come to be the case?
When the railway through South Dunedin was first constructed in the 1870s the builders were faced with issues of geography, namely the hills of Caversham, Burnside, Green Island, Abbotsford and Wingatui. In fact almost the whole of Dunedin is constructed on hills and the entire line between Oamaru and Mosgiel is the hilliest part of the Main South Line by far. From Wingatui to Invercargill on the other hand is almost completely free of such challenges. In hilly country the extra cost of construction can make various compromises inevitable, usually in regard to curvature and gradient. Bridges and tunnels being very expensive works, the early railway builders sought to keep the need for these to a minimum. Lines would be built to the steepest and sharpest alignments possible and improved later when they had proved themselves, thus Dunedin has many improvements made both to the north and the south of the central business district. The compromise that was arrived at for the line to the south of Dunedin in the 1970s entailed the following significant features:
  • From Kensington through Caversham a ruling grade of 1 in 50 to the summit then a similar downhill grade to Green Island at the bottom of the hill.
  • The line then climbed again at grades of up to 1 in 50 to the second summit at Abbotsford. There was then another drop down to Abbots Creek.
  • Another 1 in 50 climb was then faced to get to the top of the Chain Hills before descending again to Wingatui.
  • The Caversham Tunnel of 43 chains was for a significant portion of its length uphill for southbound trains at 1 in 50.
  • The Chain Hills Tunnel of 22 1/2 chains was for a significant portion of its length uphill for southbound trains at 1 in 50.
Due to the development of traffic the improvements became rapidly desirable. The goals for the project included:
  • Duplicating the main line throughout the Dunedin to Mosgiel section. (Ironically, it was singled again in the mid 1980s, and the double track embankment around Caversham was replaced by a new single track embankment so the double track alignment could be reused by a motorway)
  • Improving the gradients to make operation easier
  • Replacing the two single track tunnels with double track bores
  • Eliminating all the level crossings to make operation safer both for the railway and for traffic.
  • Improving the stations along the route.
Deviation map full
This map sums up the nature of the improvement works between Dunedin and Mosgiel.

Taneatua Branch Track Removals

This is a list I posted to a Facebook group which I am going to expand upon a bit.
  • Bridge over Main St, Edgecumbe. This is quite a recent removal but of greater concern is that Kiwirail decided there was a perfect opportunity there to make some money by sending the bridge steelwork off to scrapping.
  • Bridge over Hydro Rd, Edgecumbe. This bridge was removed for the purpose of allowing heavy vehicle traffic to bypass the Reid’s Canal highway bridge when that was being raised a few years ago. Both of these bridges at Edgecumbe had very low clearances for road traffic. The span of this bridge was supposedly put in the Edgecumbe yard for storage but may well have been scrapped by now for all I know. There has been no attempt to reinstate the bridge since. Neither has any attempt apparently been made to remove the bridge abutments and piles but sooner or later someone will want to widen the road.
  • Span washed out on Reid's Canal Bridge. This happened after the last big flood in the Edgecumbe area as it is very flood prone. This was because Reid’s Canal was too narrow, and the waterflow undercut the bridge abutment at one end of the bridge causing the span to collapse into the river. The BOP District Council has decided that Reid’s Canal and Omeheu Canal will both need to be widened and that the railway bridges across them will need to be lengthened in future if the railway is reopened. Since the railway is unlikely to reopen the bridges will probably be partly demolished or removed.
  • Track sealed over at the ends of the Peketahi combined bridge. Not sure when this has happened but quite a long time ago.
  • Level crossings sealed up. Again unsure when this has occurred.
  • Highway overbridge demolished and highway realigned at Taneatua. The bridge was first temporarily bypassed a few years ago to allow repairs to be done. Because it was in such a poor condition, being wooden, NZTA was expecting they would have to get rid of it. They temporarily built the highway to go around it and then it was demolished. The highway was then realigned at its intersection with Taneatua Road. The reason the intersection gave a kink in it for SH2 was that Taneatua Road west of the intersection used to be the highway which formerly took a different route via Whakatane. The realignment of the highway was completed last year and it uses part of the railway alignment and the track was removed off the section it uses.
Streetview east of the old overbridge, the ramp for which can be seen on the right with an excavator demolishing it. In the background work is underway on the highway realignment.
Streetview of the demolition of the Taneatua Overbridge.
Streetview of the highway realignment. In the foreground note a short piece of railway track still visible, the temporary highway has sealed over the part in the foreground while into the background it has been removed.
Streetview of the end of the Taneatua Branch where it now effectively is. The track can be seen to the right.

Rangiora 1973

So, Canterbury Maps turns out to have aerials of Rangiora taken in 1973. This is very good because I can draw a map of it very well since the 1973 coverage is generally of such good quality that individual tracks can be picked out easily.
North end of the yard with two tracks going over the Wales St crossing, the one on the left is a dead end siding with carriages in it. This is very different from today where the second track is on the right and is the loop.
Coming down into the yard we can see the turntable upper left and continuing down we have various industrial premises with sidings.
As we get down into the yard we can see the goods shed and freight yard to the right. On the left we have what used to be the junction of the branch line to Oxford. This was served by an unusual triangular platform due to the curve being located right in the yard. There were still private sidings in this area for many years afterwards.
Finally getting down to the crossing at the south end which then as today is only the main line.
I am way too busy at the moment but will start drawing the map as soon as I have a bit of time to myself.

Wingatui Tunnel Driving

In the 1910s the double-track Wingatui Tunnel was driven to replace the single track tunnel known as “Chain Hills”. The original tunnel was said to be very difficult to drive because of ground conditions and the replacement encountered similar problems. In the original tunnel an accident took place in 1875 in which there were two deaths caused by a collapse of the inside of the tunnel.
This is a complete contrast from the Caversham Tunnel in which the replacement was cut through sandstone and is completely unlined in a number of areas because it is a very stable material. It is unusual to have a tunnel that is unlined on the Main Trunk.
So here we can see the relative positions of the two tunnels, single and double track, and also note in passing that the main line through the current tunnel was originally double track when built 100 years ago and has been singled for about the past 30 years approximately. Also we can see the location of Wingatui station was changed when the deviation opened and also the junction to the Central line changed also.

Proceedings 1920 - 21


By MR. W. R. DAVIDSON, Assoc. M. Inst. C.E.
<<Extract from the full document >>
  • The approach to the Mosgiel end of the Chain Hills new tunnel required the excavation of approximately 100,000 cubic yards of clay, the maximum depth of cutting being 55ft.
  • The rock through which it passes is mica schist of a particularly treacherous character, the country being waterbearing and very much faulted.
  • Trouble with the large section tunnel was anticipated in view of serious difficulties met with in the old single track tunnel.
  • At the start the tunnel was built in 16-ft lengths, but on very heavy ground being met with, these lengths had to be reduced to 8ft, and thereafter a standard of 12ft was adopted for all classes of ground.
  • The tunnel is 19ft 9in. high with a maximum width of 25ft 71/2in. The profile is curved throughout, the walls being built to a curve of 22ft 4 1/4in. radius, and the roof arch to a curve of 13ft 6in. radius.
  • The walls are 12ft 6in. in height, formation to springing, and are built of mass concrete, or hard tunnel stone set in cement mortar. For a short length where rock movement was anticipated the walls are built of brick in a piece with the arch.
  • The arch throughout is built of hard burnt brick in four half-brick rings for light ground, and five and six rings for heavy ground.
  • Excavation at the Abbotsford end was greatly assisted by a forward dip in the stratum, but this made bad ground doubly treacherous.
  • Extremely wet and heavy ground was met with at one point where 50ft of tunnel was constructed at a cost of £2,100, or £126 per lineal yard.
  • At another point the floor of the tunnel rose 10in. and it was necessary to build 72 feet of concrete invert. 2ft thick.
  • Serious difficulties were met with at the Wingatui portal. Excavation was just about to begin when it was found that the rock suddenly faulted and a mass of soft mud and ancient forest detritus had to be penetrated. To give strength of attack a length of tunnel lining was built in the open. With this as a base to carry the pressure the wall of mud was eventually penetrated.
  • After excavation had advanced about 10 chains a heavy rainstorm brought down a series of slips that almost buried the mouth of the tunnel.
  • The carrying away of a steel flume caused the flood waters from a group of gullies above the tunnel to pour in at the portal in spite of a clay dyke built to provide against such a mishap. This entailed the pumping of about 300,000 gallons of water before work could be resumed at the face. The water draining from these gullies is now intercepted by a dam and contour flume of concrete, and led across the Wingatui cutting in a reinforced concrete flume to its natural course.
  • The construction of this tunnel involved the excavation of about 62,500 cubic yards of rock and the placing of 2 1/2 millions of bricks and 5,700 cubic yards of concrete.
  • The cost per lineal yard was £69
  • (For comparison the cost per lineal yard for the Caversham Tunnel was £20).

Toll Rail “Plan B” 2008

Below is the full text of the government press release which states what Toll proposed to close in 2008 – “Plan B”. It should be noted that Toll did not have the power to close lines. This plan proposed to give up the operation of freight services on those lines. As such therefore there was nothing to stop another operator from being contracted to provide services although in practice Toll would have had to allow through freight services from Hamilton to Palmerston North or operate services to those locations to be taken through the Central North Island by another operator.
Wednesday, 2 July 2008, 2:24 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister of Finance

2 July 2008 Media Statement
Government reveals ‘Plan B’ on rail
The Labour-led government has today revealed that its buyback of New Zealand’s rail system was influenced by plans to close regional rail services throughout the country, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today.
Dr Cullen has released a list of services that was the centrepiece of Toll’s ‘Plan B’ which hung over negotiations with the government over the subsidy for the Australian firm’s operation.
The Labour-led government bought back the rail operation and launched KiwiRail yesterday.
“A modern rail system is vital for New Zealand’s economic future,” Dr Cullen said. “With the rising cost of petrol and the threat of global climate change, New Zealanders know we have to use more efficient transport methods.
“This is especially true for regional economies. The communities who have already lost their rail services know the pain that closures can cause.
“John Key says we should have left Toll in charge and refused to pay for any infrastructure investment. I invite him to travel to the regions that could have had their services axed and to explain his stance.”
The services that could have been closed under ‘Plan B’ are:
• The Overlander passenger service
• The Central North Island section of the Main Trunk Line (Te Kuiti to Palmerston North)
• Northland Line
• Taranaki Line
• Hawke’s Bay Line
• Napier to Gisborne Line
• Wairarapa Line north of Masterton
• Picton to Christchurch (freight + passenger services)
• Greymouth to Hokitika Line
• Invercargill to Bluff Line
• Invercargill to Wairio Line


NZ Cycle Trail Maps

This list is extracted from’s website which overlays the KMLs onto a Google map embedded in the site. You will need either to open the files in Google Earth, or if you have another suitable application that can read KMLs you can view them that way.

Panoramio photo of a suspension bridge built for the trail at Athol. There are two bridges close together as the cables show. Both the bridge and trail appear to be on the old railway formation.

Another view of one of the Athol cycleway bridges.
The ones I have looked at so far look like GPS traces which means they can contain inaccuracies. It will be months before I have looked through them all and updated my maps.

More & Sons Timber Tramway, Longwood / Pourakino

This is a quick draw of the main tramway which according to Q4 was still in use up to 1960. There were various branches and facilities which have not yet been put into the maps. The main reference source is the 1940s NZMS1 map.
Starting out from Longwood (bottommost map) there are no traces obvious but a particular point of interest in the early part of the tramway is shown by the survey boundaries on Centre Road where a township must have once existed. In places there still appears to be a defined corridor which was possibly that used by the tramway. It is not until well up on Pourakino Valley Road where you will eventually start to see bits of formation.
The tramway formation appears to be just to the left of the road as a straight line skirting some trees.

This Panoramio photo is titled “Overgrown bridge of old logging track in upper Pourakino area”. (Click on image to see the description page in Panoramio)

Another Panoramio photo from nearby. (Click image to see description and comments page)

Kingston Line Flooding Damage January 1980

A report found online happens to mention the extent of this damage which probably was significant in the decisions to close the line around this time.
In particular:
  • Track and approaches to Bridge 52 severely washed out
  • Bridges 58 and 66 up to 100 mm out of line.
Based on the curve and gradient diagram for the line (published by Joe Wallace on his Flickr site) we can determine the locations of these bridges:
  • Bridge 52 between Parawa and Athol
  • Bridge 58 between Athol and Nokomai
  • Bridge 66 just south of Fairlight (Mataura River Bridge)
Bridge 66 is the main obstacle to proposals which have been floated from time to time to re-open the line as far as Garston. If this was not viable in the  1980s when the private operation of the Flyer was first established, it is much less achievable now since the bridge has subsequently been completely demolished.
The bridge number data will end up being useful when I update my maps for the Kingston Line which is going to be looked at in part of the full update of maps for Southland that is being worked on at present. Right now I won’t be looking for exactly where the numbered bridges are, Bridge 66 is easy to identify due to its proximity to Fairlight station.