Good evening and welcome to the project development report for March 2022. As noted last month, the current focus for the maps is in Volume 11. Maps are now complete for Ashburton, Fairton, Tinwald, and all the stations on the Springburn / Mount Somers Branch. Work will shift from here to completing the Methven Branch, and the Main South Line between Rakaia and Ashburton, with the only other intermediate station in this section needing maps to be added being Chertsey.
After completing these parts, the rest of the Main South Line from Ashburton to Timaru and the Fairlie Branch will be completed. On the main line, the intermediate stations to be mapped include Winslow, Hinds, Ealing, Rangitata, Orari, Winchester, Temuka, Seadown and Washdyke. The maps completed so far of the Fairlie Branch will be looked over to see if any additional detail needs to be added.
The next MSL section south is from Timaru to Studholme, which is the junction for the Waimate Branch, and the Branch itself will also be mapped. Aerial coverage of the Branch is not of the highest quality, being generally at a scale of around 1:16000, consequently it will be difficult to map all details accurately. There is however good coverage of Waimate Station at 1:8000 from 1967, the year following closure, so that it will be possible to draw in the station and yard tracks a short time before lifting took place, and some other details can be confirmed from the smaller scale aerials mentioned above. Coverage of the Waihao Gorge section of the line which closed in the early 1950s is reasonably clear in 1940s aerials also around 1:16000 although to get accurate yard diagrams will probably require additional non-aerial resources. It is known that some formation work was completed beyond the Waihao Downs terminus and as this has been previously sought out on Google Earth, an endeavour will also be made to have aerial coverage of this added to the maps.
After that, the next area to be attended to will be the Main South Line from Bankside north, and the Southbridge and Little River branches. This methodical approach will ensure the maps are soon completed for all of the Main South Line corridor and its branch lines from Christchurch to Studholme, which is 209 km out of 390 km of the main line corridor for Volume 11 and all the branches along that section, enabling these maps to be published and released as a part volume. It is estimated this will take place at the end of March.