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Train sims for railways in Ireland

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Sacrilege on a railway modelling forum perhaps, but I was wondering if anyone else has dabbled with PC-based trainsims and specifically, used the few routes or trains available for local railways.


I had 'Along UTA Lines' for Trainz...



...and while I don't have it installed, I think I have most of the files. I find it very irritating that many Trainz user-made ad-ons, while admirable and free (unles you buy a 'ticket' for faster access) require you to seek out and download many 'dependencies', everything from bogies, to structures. Last time I tried, not all those needed for that route were still available. I don't have any screenies for the route, but here's one from a stock route of Trainz 2009;




There's also an 80 Class available:



There was a guy building the NCC section in Trainz but I don't think this was ever finished or released: http://www.northernirelandrailwaysim.moonfruit.com/


Some years back, I got the Ballyshannon route for Microsoft Train Simulator and though I'm not sure I still have the extra liveries available from UKTrainsim.com for the stock, I still like to fire up MSTS every so often and take the trains that come with the route for a spin. I think Ballyshanon was taken off the market as some of its stuff was re-released as part of the 'Irish Enterprise' add-on which I must pick up one of these days - anyone here have that?










I recently picked up a copy of the more modern trainsim spin-off 'Drive a Steam Train' and while it's not local, it's fun and looks great. If I could get local content for a trainsim of this calibre I'd be well pleased.



Edited by 33lima
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'd have thought many of 'us' would have been 'into' trainsims, seems a natural extension if not progression. But perhaps not, even though you can build trains and routes in many sims...as has been done. I'm glad I got Ballyshannon while it was available and would have been interested in the experiences of anyone who has tried the Irish Enterprise MSTS payware add-on which followed the earlier mod. Which I still fire up from time to time, it's a bit like having an instant layout at your disposal with 'activities' to follow and a decent variety of local railway stock, all suitably 'sound chipped', like the 'Thumpers', seen if not heard here, on Summer evening runs from either end of the fictional route:







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Ballyshannon, there's a blast from the past!  I was co-author of the route, along with Andy Dunnett, who made the models, and Gordon Mackenzie whose Ruabon-Barmouth route was adapted by me to make a fictional Irish route (ironically several years after I did the conversion I moved to the area and am now involved in the Dolgellau model railway exhibition which on Ballyshannon became Belleek!)  We didn't pull Ballyshannon because we moved on to make the Enterprise route, it had served it's purpose and we felt that by making an actual real-life route for MSTS that there would be less interest in a fictional route, especially as the models which had been made as freeware (like the 80 class) were upgraded, with new sound effects, colour schemes, interiors and the like.


Andy, Gordon and myself together with Dave Babb and Sean Geoghan were the "creatives" behind the Enterprise route, which features models of the 80 class, 450 class, 29000 and C3K units, 141, 121, 201, 071 and Hunslet locos, and an 81xx DART emu.  It ended up being released in two halves, partly because we were making the route part-time but also because the route tested the available computer processing at the time, especially as the original MSTS was a bit clunky in the way it handled the files.  Originally I had made custom environmental sound files for the route which had to be ditched, and some of my texturing for the liveries had to be simplified to allow the route to load!  I did manage to get our "Cravens" coaches to leak steam though without causing the 'pooter to crash!


Sadly, the route was a modest seller and I think the amount of work involved meant that we never tried another Irish route, plus MSTS was becoming less popular, so we've all moved on.  Frankly I didn't really do it for the money, I've earned more selling paintings at the village Art Exhibition, but it was fun, and a good excuse for a few day trips to Dublin and Belfast as "research".  The real life line and Irish railways in general are worth looking at if you have no experience of them, sadly they have become more uniform and unitised since we did the Enterprise route, I think we got in just in time for the last "hurrah" of 071s on the Sligo's for example, but they are still worth a trip.

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Fascinating piece of trainsim history there, Mark! One of these days I'll probably pick up Irish Enterprise North. My biggest reservation with MSTS generally was not so much the now-dated but still-serviceable graphics, it was that, while it was evidently quite possible to build routes with much more detailed and dense scenery that the stock routes, this seemed invariably to introduce bouts ot stutter, as the sim only loaded so much at a time into memory, to cope with the systems of the time.


Agree entirely that the NIR/IE rail scene on this side of 'the water' has become rather less interesting since the 1990s. As a look at the add-on's trailer shows!




PS I'm going to give OpenRails a go:




Apparently it runs MSTS routes and trains like Ballyshannon, but with better frame rates and less stuttering. Time to find the CDs for the Cambrian Coast Route and the others I had!

Edited by 33lima
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One thing that didn't make it into the final route release was "crapper-cam".  When we did the Mk2 "supertrain" stock, I put two passenger view files into the coding, and depending which coach was first in the formation you would get either a standard class passenger view, or (at the risk of being accused of being "PC") a view from the wheelchair space in the buffet.  However, I had a plan to get a detailed mock up of one of the "jacks" to be made and had some photos I'd taken in "el boggo" whilst on a trip on one of the Mk2s.  I even made a special sound file, comprising various, erm, lavatorial sound effects stitched together, simulating someone perhaps suffering from Guinness induced constipation.

​For some reason it was considered possibly taking things a bit too far.

​If you look closely at the trucks, shops and adverts on the DART, I had some fun making up brand names so we could avoid copyright issues with real life companies, like Emerald Oil, Liam Stone aggregates, Beaughaire Hall resort, Ben Gallow estate agents and the like.  There is also a Mike Hunt betting shop in Belfast, no-one noticed that.  The best one though was we couldn't use "Guinness" so the "Guinness" liner to Belfast became the "Liffey" liner, and there are a couple of ads on some stations for "Liffey" Virtual Stout, hand brewed in cyberspace.

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Sadly the crapper-cam didn't make it into Ballyshannon, either. But I can confirm that the route and stock seem to work fine in OpenRails, which as promised when first run invited me to enable use of my MSTS content. I'm looking forward to finding out if I'm just imagining that it runs smoother than in native MSTS. Really glad I got Ballyshannon while it was available, it's a fine piece of work.





Edited by 33lima
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Thanks for the heads-up about Open Rails, I hadn't been to their website since it was first discussed but it looks likje it might give MSTS a bit of a restart.  I can see me investing in a new decent spec laptop for Open Rails to run some of the route add-ons I had for MSTS and Flight Sim X!

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's still hard to tell if performance is any better than in native MSTS but I'm not seeing 'loading stutter' and draw distance is definitely longer, as I'm not seeing trees etc 'drawn in' as I approach them, because they are already there. And the dynamic shadows are better. As in these summer and autumn scenes with an 80 Class in the suburban sector livery available over at UKTrainsim.com:






Cambrian Lines is also running smoothly, though the MetCam DMU's exhaust is now very heavily-rendered:









Edited by 33lima
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Well I don't think OpenRails entirely eliminates the loading stutter but it certainly much reduces both frequency and severity, altogether a smoother experience. I'm re-downloading more local trains from UKTrainsim.com, starting with Andy's corporate blue 80 Class livery...




...and the C3K DMU...




...to be followed soon by the NIR MED railcar set...




...then the BUT railcar in different liveries, starting with the UTA one...




...and also some extra liveries for the Hunslet.


Ballyshannon really is a good route - it would well deserve a re-release -  comparing well with the best, including trackside fences and other details...




...though while it's a long time since i've been to Castlederg, I don't remember it being quite so mountainous :) ...




I had some trouble installing some other routes, got from UKttainsim in the days you paid postage for a CD, but after copying the files onto the HDD of a Windows 10 machine, and burning them to DVD, they now seem to install fine on my own Vista 64 box, starting with the rather excellent Mideast UK...




Taking an HST north out of Kings Cross, I definitely never had the view range, the high FPS and nearly-stutter-free experience running this route in native MSTS...




...so I'd definitely recommend Openrails as a great new platform for MSTS content, from the stock Marias Pass route...




...to the RENFE Cercanias EMUs in sunny Espana...




...and back to the thumpers pounding Ballyshannon's virtual rails...



Edited by 33lima
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A long time ago, I painted a Trainz MetCam DMU with wasp-stripes, and bought a 3d modelling programme (still in the loft somewhere) designed for MSTS, which I used to make an MPD unit, never finished and files now long lost. Maybe one of these days...!

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A long time ago, I painted a Trainz MetCam DMU with wasp-stripes, and bought a 3d modelling programme (still in the loft somewhere) designed for MSTS, which I used to make an MPD unit, never finished and files now long lost. Maybe one of these days...!



Interesting stuff.  I don't know why I never got into rail sims, used to have quite a flight sim setup years ago, but gave that up too once I ceased flying. What are the current sims folks use and are there any Irish routes available?


PS: Are there any youtube clips of Irish route/train sims?

Edited by NoelG
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Interesting stuff.  I don't know why I never got into rail sims, used to have quite a flight sim setup years ago, but gave that up two once I ceased flying. What are the current sims folks use and are there any Irish routes available?


PS: Are there any youtube clips of Irish route/train sims?

Train Simulator 2017 here, but I don't think there's much in the way of Irish routes unfortunately (there might be some freeware or third party ones).

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Interesting stuff.  I don't know why I never got into rail sims, used to have quite a flight sim setup years ago, but gave that up too once I ceased flying. What are the current sims folks use and are there any Irish routes available?


PS: Are there any youtube clips of Irish route/train sims?


Well, there's the two clips linked to in my first post, plus another (the Irish Enterprise North trailer) I linked to a little later on.


As to the Irish routes available, I think 'Along UTA Lines' may still be available for Trainz, while there is a 1930s Kerry route currently available on UKtrainsim.com, in four parts:




Irish Enterprise North and South can stil be found, for MSTS. It would be good if Ballyshannon was re-released.


I have MSTS, several editions of Trainz (though I hate their 'download station' and the need to locate & download multiple additional items or dependencies, expecially for routes) and an early version of Railworks/Traim Simulator. Also picked up a second-hand copy of an RW/TS spin-off http://simhq.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/4376579/engine-driver-drive-a-steam-train#Post4376579


Just downloading BVE now - last saw this one about 10 years ago, it's come a long way (it only had cab views back then) and looks worth it just for this sort of experience of driving a DMU:




It's like something lifted from a real training film:



I see there is some Irish stuff available for BVE, here: http://www.celtictrainsim.com/homepage.html




Having just got started again, so far I'm spending most of my time playing MSTS content in Open Rails.

























Edited by 33lima
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A pleasant suprise I made recently with Open Rails is that the support for superelevation - which I thought would enable it to be added or built into routes - can actually be applied as a global option and when selected, is applied to existing routes. You can also select some parameters, including degree of tilt, and next thing you know, it's there, when you load the next session:




Adds considerably to the appearance and experience, in both external and cab views.

Edited by 33lima
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PS I see there is a 201 Class & train available for Rail Simulator, which latter I already have (predecessor of Railworks, evolved into Train Simulator 20XX) over at UKTrainSim.com :






...designed to run on a Dublin to Limerick and Cork route: http://members.uktrainsim.com/filelib-info.php?form_fileid=30145


...for which some expansions or activities are also available:




Plus from the same bulder, some Irish steam age routes, seemingly using default BR stock for now; this one for Railworks...





...and this one for Rail Simulator:






I have just ordered Irish Enterprise North for MSTS and am looking forward to running the 450 Class DEMU, the 071/111 and the other additional locos over the Belfast-Dundalk route, with the improved performance and visuals of Open Rails.


Edited by 33lima
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It's arrived...




Driving's an experience and a half, not just because of the well-rendered stock and scenery, including many a building instantly recognisable. But to be able to see my train blast through Botanic, where I stood just days ago watching the latest Enterprise roar past...apart from the passage of a few years in timeline, looking and feeling spookily 'just like the real thing'...




Not to mention sliding into the same platform I stood upon in GVS, just the other day, albeit during this virtual visit, completely forgetting about how I was going to make do with no pilot loco and no run-around facilities...






This add-on is a most excellent piece of kit -  I wish I'd got 'Irish Enterprise North' years ago.


There is the occasional simplification here or there and possibly due to being rendered in Open Rails, one or two angles or places where you can see a 'seam in the sky' like the top edge of a model railway backscene, but mostly, it's a stunner.


And everything seems to work out of the box. With the same company's 'London and South East' add-on...




...I'm getting track shimmer in Open Rails and some translucent areas which spin around EMU wheels, and in some areas I'm getting concrete-sleepered track with no third rail, tho I'm not having to hand-edit files to get some locos and trains to run right or at all, a problem in Mid East UK, which I got at the same time as the trouble-free 'Ballyshannon'.


'Irish Enterprise North' is definitely a keeper. The sounds are at least as good as the visuals and whether the engine is at the right end of the train or not, this was always much my favourite diesel-era Enterprise livery, elegance with a light modernist touch. Super!



Edited by 33lima
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Yes the sounds are a particular strength, Mark! The big GMs sound like I'm standing next to the real thing, likewise unless it's a placebo effect, the 'thumper' sounds which were good in 'Ballyshannon, are almost knee-wobbling in their realism and depth. Adds a lot to the immersion.


And the 80 Class 3d models are visibly better, notably around the cab ends. The red and grey seat upholstery is also most convincing. I wonder if the other liveries available on UKTrainSim can be 'ported' to them.




I just drove this set into GVS, into the old 'railmotor' platform, and after admiring all the neatly-parked buses in their various authentic liveries next door, using the OR 'free cam', I was a bit disappointed to find I couldn't work out how to (or whether I could) switch cabs to the drving trailer end and take her back to Central! At least, the staff are keeping the flowers in the tubs on the platforms tidy and well watered!




Edited by 33lima
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In case anyone else using Open Rails to run MSTS content is experiencing track shimmer with routes which use UK finescale track, a fix that worked for me was the utility from Slipperman12 linked to here, over on Train Sim Safe House: http://tsforum.freeclanforum.com/t1285-shimmering-track#16748.


Fixed track shimmer on both 'London South East' and on the freeware 'Steyning' route from UKTS:






Never affected 'Irish Enterprise North'...






...with which I'm still having a ball, not least with the c.20 included activities, like this evening service from Portadown, which starts with a signal check waiting for a down service.






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Any video clips of a sim in action using Irish loco hauled train on an Irish route (e.g. A class, GM diesels, etc)?


Irish Enterprise North, using Open Rails:



...and South, in native MSTS:



Both halves of the soute, again in MSTS:




Ballyshannon in MSTS, filmed from the monitor by the look of it:



Kerry MSTS route, but with diesels:



Not loco hauled, but Trainz 80 Class, first two clips I think on the 'Along UTA Lines' route mentioned in the first post:





And the UTA route itself, the last time I wrestled with that accursed Download Station in an effort to get this running, I could not find a good many of the separate items you need::



Some of the stock linked to above in Train Simulator 20xx, better graphics than MSTS apart from the annoying visible draw-in and at a price in the much higher PC requirements, and better simulation of AWS/TPWS, but much less content:



Edited by 33lima
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And here's 'one I made earlier', just unedited footage from am 'Explore route' session - the actual thing runs more smoothly, and looks a whole lot sharper, than in this low-resolution clip, showing a GM running from Central to Finaghy:



The jointed track sound from the coaches is an additional effect I had left enabled, probably not appropriate if CWR was installed on that stretch of line back in the 1990s.

Edited by 33lima
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Thanks for posting all the videos. Those train sims seem visually reminiscent to where flight sim 98 was. It's a pity there is no rail and track noise and no loco suspension movement. The trains move like they are on laser rails. I suppose compared to flight sims it's a tiny market hence limited realism. The first flight sim I used was sublogic on Apple II back in 1980 with juddering green wire frame grid world.

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