Toronto Rail Lands 1954
Hi Canada Trainz, Tell us a little bit about your group.
Russ Milland (rmilland): I am the project leader on the TRHA Rail Lands Simulation Project. Our team originally formed around Auran's Trainz on The Road (TOTR) program and have for the past few years promoted Trainz at many shows in Eastern Canada. I am also a working director of the TRHA (Toronto Railway Historical Association) which was formed with the specific mission of establishing a world class railway museum to be housed in the heart of downtown Toronto in the CPR Roundhouse, Roundhouse Park and the magnificent Union Station. Our team decided a while back to become the Railway Simulations division of the TRHA with a long term goal of developing full size simulators for the museum. Our contribution to TRS2006 is a simulation of the Toronto Rail Lands in the mid-1950's at their peak. The museum will be in the heart of this same area.
Before I have the team members introduce themselves, I would like to introduce Derek Boles. Derek is a member of our team and was active in the early stages as he is one of my fellow directors in the TRHA and is our historian. He has provided us with a lot of the information we needed on the history of the Rail Lands from his extensive collection of reference material. Derek is a Macintosh user and therefore is, to his regret, not able to enjoy Trainz yet.
I would also like to introduce Ferd Mels, a professional photographer, an accomplished model railroader and, more important, crack Photoshop expert who provided us with some last minute help with a lot of texture maps. He too is an Apple Macintosh user patiently waiting for Trainz to become available on the Mac.
Now l will have each of our team members introduce themselves.
Dave Lawrence (aradlaw): I met Russ and his TOTR gang last year at one of the big model railroad shows in Toronto. I try to get out to these shows whenever I can but shift work prevents me attending all our demonstrations.
Martin van Kuilenburg (martinvk): I am the remote member of the group as I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I am a life long enthusiast of trains, both as models and in 1:1 scale and have been active in the TOTR program in Montreal.
Tom Landers (tlanders): I work as a computer programmer by day, and am a Trainz enthusiast by night. One of my Trainz projects is a recreation of the CNR (Canadian National Railways) operations around Stratford, Ontario, in the 1950s. I was born and raised in Stratford, which was a very busy railway city, hence my interest.
Al Sharpe (skybear): As my nickname name suggests, I am a simulations gaming enthusiast from way back, especially in the flight simulation world. I started out in the MSTS world and then found the Trainz website and was impressed that a Canadian (Ceebee) was so active there. I then bought the first version of Trainz and never looked back. Terry and I have been friends and model railroaders for decades. We found Jon when we offered him a lift to a museum where we demonstrated Trainz even before TOTR. The three of us have been meeting regularly since then to share experiences and to build a route called the Cambridge Northern with hopes to have it work in a multi-player mode in future.
Jon Hull (austin316hockey): I am also a member of Trainz On The Road team, and have been since its inception. Demonstrating the simulator at various train shows here in Southern Ontario has been and remains a lot of fun. Since joining the online Trainz community, I have met many different people, whether just by contact through e-mail, or actually meeting in person. Although we joke in the forum that we all kiss our social life good-bye, that's not really the case
Terry Morris (thor1): I have been a model railroader in HO Scale since 1972. My main interest is in the Ontario Northland Railway (ONR) and I am in the process of creating the entire route in Trainz, as well building a physical layout for the ONR. I have also been working train shows in Southern Ontario as an assistant dealer for the past 25 years enabling me to see many new product changes over the years. I am a member of our local Trainz on the Road team, and have been since its inception. Demonstrating the simulator at various train shows here in Southern Ontario has been a lot of fun, especially with my meeting so many different people.
Lineup at Union Station
Have you produced any content for any previous version of Trainz?
Russ (rmilland): Most of my energies have been invested in enjoying running Trainz and in launching the TOTR program in our area. I am a trained 3D modeller and animator but have only had limited time to develop content for TRAINZ and none is as yet good enough to share with the world. But I did co-author (with Henk Plaggemars (cafe) of Auran) the Engineer's Guide and the World Builder's Guide for TRS2004.
Dave (aradlaw): I have not as yet developed gmax skills. I have however produced and uploaded a fairly scale Trainz version of the Halton County Radial Museum which operates near us in central Ontario. I have also completed a couple of sign reskins for this route.
Jay (crazy_irishman) I have completed and uploaded some repaints of some ONR locomotives and cars as well as demonstration routes to show off Trainz at shows. I am now using this project to develop my gmax skills even further as I am developing a number of the structures required to properly represent the rail lands.
Jon (austin316hockey): I have a strong interest in 3D modelling, and have been producing content for Trainz since the first version was released back in 2001. Auran included several of my objects in the production release of TRS2004.
Martin (martinvk): Most of my creations have been construction guides plus a few scenery items. As work continues on my major route, I create items as I need them and then send the best to the Download Station to share with others. After more than 250,000 downloads of my objects, I am beginning to conclude that others like them too.
Terry (thor1): So far, my experience has been mostly in route building but I have a strong interest in 3D modelling and hope to learn more about it through our plans as a team to hold local workshops where we would share our knowledge and teach each other.
Tom (tlanders): Currently I have 90 items on the Download Station. The most popular of these are my CNR speed limit signs, CNR switch stands, and the St. Mary's (Ontario) railway station.
What kind of content are you working on for inclusion in TRS2006?
Jon (austin316hockey): As well as assisting with the track work, I also have modelled close to 20 different assets, all of which are (or were) very familiar structures in the rail lands. I am also modelling a Canadian National Railways U2g Northern-class steam locomotive, one of the largest engines to operate in North America. The original belongs to the City of Toronto and will be a featured exhibit of the new museum.
Martin (martinvk): I contributed my gmax skills and have concentrated on building the landmark Union Station and Royal York Hotel as well as some of the surrounding buildings and railway facilities.
Terry (thor1): I have been working on the development of the actual route and associated scenery development. I have repainted a number of the download station assets to ensure we have a good supply of appropriate rolling stock for this era and for the railroads that used these rail lands. I have also been active in thoroughly testing the Route.
Tom (tlanders): I focused my efforts on creating the four Interlocking Towers, the joint CN/CP Don Station, updated CNR switch stands, a small lighthouse, and a generic building kit to allow us to create the hundreds of small industrial buildings required.
Jay (crazy_irishman): I have been busy developing a number of the structures in the rail lands. Reproducing Old Fort York which exists today and was built in the mid-1800's was especially intriguing.
Dave (aradlaw): I have taken on the challenge of analyzing the master map of the Rail Lands and inventorying each and every building and then either assigning them to the our gmax team to build replicas or searching TRS2004 and the Download Station for suitable assets. I am now having fun building some of the missing buildings with Tom's building kit
Al (skybear): I have focused on development of the route itself applying my Surveyor skills to pulling it all together.
Where can a Trainz User go to check out your work? Do you have a website, or will you be getting one?
Dave (aradlaw): I love to "doodle" in surveyor, and I use a lot of the third party tools developed for Trainz. I have a small web site featuring most of the tools on the download station. This has evolved into a basic "Introduction to Trainz" site, which we direct new Trainzers to at the TOTR shows. The site features links to the TRS upgrades (service packs), Paintshed, First Class Tickets, 3rd Party Utilities and of course links to the surveyor toolz. The site is linked from my forum signature "(aradlaw) dave in Brampton". Or visit it at http://firstname.lastname@example.org/toolz
Jon (austin316hockey): In addition to much of my content being available on the download station, I have a website at http://austin316hockey.ne1.net/mcr/ which features my work as well.
Russ (rmilland): By the time that you read this, you will be able to visit a website that I've been working on which focuses on the Canadian Trainz scene. Check it out at www.trainz.ca.
Tom (tlanders): If you go to the Download Station and search for user "tlanders" or do the same in the forums, you will learn more about my work. My website is http://www.geocities.com/crs1881 but it is incomplete.
Martin (martinvk): Just search the forum using my username and you will find my work there.
So, what skills do your members bringing to this group?
Dave (aradlaw): I have no GMAX skills, but I know my way around Surveyor and have collect a fair bit of content from the download station and have introduced some of these to the rest of the group.
Jay (crazy_irishman) I started by developing my expertise in route creation, especially routes for use for TOTR demonstrations. With this project, I have started to create more content for Trainz and am hoping to build my skills and start to create more complex objects in the future.
Martin (martinvk): A civil engineer by training, I now work in the computer industry as an asset manager. Having designed and being familiar with prototype engineering structures, I now apply those lessons when creating content for Trainz.
Jon (austin316hockey): My strongest point is my modeling ability. I first began modeling in 3D eight years ago, and have had a blast doing so. I have no formal training, although someday I may do so, since it's such a strong interest, with a huge career potential.
Tom (tlanders): I have been in the Trainz community for only a short time but have focussed a lot of energy on learning gmax.
Al (skybear): I host the team at our regular meetings as I have a network of computers we can work on. I am also heavily involved in the route development.
Russ (rmilland): I am a general systems engineer by profession and a passionate enthusiast for everything to do with railways. While I am a trained 3D modeller and animator, I have not practiced this professionally but I hope in the near future to spend more time in gmax and start producing for the Trainz community!
Do any of the members of the group have some actual train driving experience?
Russ (rmilland): One of my passions is the building and operating of live steam locomotives. My latest engine is featured in my signature photo on the forums. These are faithful replicas of the real ones and require exactly the same knowledge and skill sets to operate. So the answer is that I do have actual train driving experience.
Jay (crazy_irishman) I have driven a 7 " gauge steam train at the Golden Horseshoe Live Steamers (www.ghls.org) track in Hamilton, Ontario as both Russ and I are members of that club.
Jon (austin316hockey): Russ has invited me to the GHLS miniature live steam track on a number of occasions, and I have had the privilege of driving some of the miniature steam engines myself. It is a real treat; they do behave exactly like the real thing, except that everything is in scale. Just the same, it's amazing to watch one of these little 7 " gauge steam engines pull 4 cars with 15 or more people on it with no trouble at all. But you do feel the difference between a full train, and an empty one.
Tom (tlanders): Does this count? For my sixth birthday my uncle, who worked for the CNR, let me sit on his lap while he moved a dayliner (RDC) from the roundhouse to the station in Stratford. He let me ring the bell and blow the horn.
Dave (aradlaw): I drive streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission. so you could say I am a traction fan of sorts.
What is a current item of third-party content (not created by your current group) that you think is an example of high quality.
Dave (aradlaw): I enjoy the various layouts released by Tommy and his Toronto Trainz team, they show great imagination, hard work and are always full of surprises around every corner.
Jay (crazy_irishman) I was always very impressed with the Modula City 2000 route.
Al (Skybear): I was most impressed with Sir Gibby's route. It was truly a breakthrough product.
Russ (rmilland): It is hard to answer this question as there is so much high quality work out there from many different perspectives. Going beyond the work of those I closely associate with, there is the high degree of innovation in the Toronto Trainz suite of routes. Then there is the magnificent splendour of SirGibby's Murchison Logging route and the Modula City 2000 route by Cab. There are many, many great engines and rolling stock. But I always remember being blown away by the atmosphere of the interiors of the Acela passenger cars by Tolaris, a pioneer in the early days of Trainz.
What is your favourite Railroad / Loco / Train / Model / Scale?
Jon (austin316hockey): I tend to lean toward anything Canadian. I really love Canadian National's big steam engines, such as the Hudson-class, and the Northern-class. But for rolling stock, it has to be the Canadian Pacific streamlined passenger cars.
Russ (rmilland): In the physical modelling world I have gravitated to the miniature railway scales of 7 " gauge and G scale. My real love is 2 foot gauge railways and especially those in Maine. Therefore my modelling will work out to be 7/8' to the foot using G scale track and 3.5' to the foot using 7 " gauge track.
Martin (martinvk): I have always been a fan of the Dutch train system, NS and its modern derivatives because of the high density and the intricate and coordinated schedules. Train sets like the Hondekop and the Koploper have been some of my favourites. No particular model scale is a favourite and now with Trainz, I can do everything 1:1 anyway.
Terry (thor1): I tend to lean toward the Ontario Northland Railway and Canadian National Railway in the 1950's, modeling in HO Scale. My favourite train is the FP 7A of the ONR in the green, yellow, and red scheme and the 6400 series steam locomotives of the CNR in the green, yellow, and black paint scheme.
Tom (tlanders): I have a small 5' x 4' N-Scale layout, but haven't used it since I moved a while back as it suffered some minor damage.
Al (skybear): As a long time model railroader, I was most interested in HO scale the 1950's as the era of choice as I grew up then and love that transition era from steam to diesel.
Do you have any amusing Train stories to tell?
Dave (aradlaw): My dad worked for Canadian National (Telecommunications), so he had an employee pass. We were coming back from Prince Edward Island one summer and after a stopover in Montreal, the conductor came through the car collecting tickets ? came back to our family and told us to grab our stuff and follow him. Since I was much younger back then, it seemed we were walking through the train back to Montreal! He led us to the last car, an empty sleeper car that was picked up in Montreal and we had the whole car to ourselves all the way to Toronto!
What is your favourite "THING" about TRS2004 -OR- TRS2006?
Russ (rmilland): I love the openness of the system. I love the creativity bursting out in all directions as a result. I love the commercial grade manuals that appeared in TRS2004 for the first time but then I am biased as I proudly co-wrote them with Cafe of Auran to fill what we felt was a crying need.
Terry (thor1): I am amazed on how there are so many things you can choose and do with ease.
Tom (tlanders): I love the ability to quickly and easily make your own routes as well as the ability to add custom objects.
Dave (aradlaw):The surveyor module where I can "doodle" to my heart's content, take a good look at other routes and see how they were put together, make changes (or not) as I wish. The Razorback scenarios are also a favourite pastime and thanks to P.I. Engineering for the Raildriver!
Jon (austin316hockey): Like Russ, I love how open it is to the 3rd party content creators. Rather than keeping everything closed up, Trainz has grown by leaps and bounds because of the 3rd party access.
Martin (martinvk): I love ability to express my creativity and share it with others via the Download Station. Also, the friendly and helpful forum where questions are asked and answered, and ideas are exchanged.
Al (Skybear): I love the versatility of the system. It is so easy to build something that looks real good.
What is your gaming history? MSTS, Transport or Railroad Tycoon, RPG's, RTS's?
Martin (martinvk): The only game that lasted on my computer prior to Trainz was Flight Simulator and for the same reasons; the non-goal oriented nature of the game and the freedom to go anywhere, do anything. Now with Trainz, I have that same freedom, plus I can create new content as I need it and share it with others.
Al (Skybear): I fell in love with the power of the Atari which offered so much sophistication for its time. But I got dragged kicking and screaming in to the PC World where is worked with a lot of different simulation software games.
Dave (aradlaw): I started out with an Intellivision years ago, upgraded to a Commodore 64. But I guess I'm like most - I started with Microsoft's MSTS and then discovered Trainz along the way and the rest is history.
Jay (crazy_irishman) I have played computer games for years but this is my first opportunity to actually contribute to a game.
Jon (austin316hockey): My favourite type of game are "god games", such as SimCity 4, Roller Coaster Tycoon, The Sims, and so on. However, I have played Half Life, and a couple of other FPS's. I also love Morrowind, since it also has an open concept to it.
Russ (rmilland): My gaming history started out with buying a Colecovision in the 1970's and was very erratic after that. I didn't get passionately involved until I discovered MSTS and then, frustrated by how difficult it was to build anything in MSTS, found Trainz V1.0 four years ago and never looked back.
Tom (tlanders): My first post-graduation job was working shiftwork in Computer Operations. One way we had to pass the time during the nightshift was to have a Doom DeathMatch.
Do any of the members have any previous experience making games (excluding making content for Trainz)?
Tom (tlanders): I actually wrote a crude version of PacMan for the Commodore Pet back in the 1970's. The school's computer lab had a ban on playing games, but not on writing them, so we'd always claim to be testing. That and text adventure games. There's a text adventure game I wrote for the Commodore Amiga somewhere out there in cyberspace.
Russ (rmilland): Most of us have had little games development experience outside of what we have done inside Trainz.
Jon (austin316hockey): I did produce a few items for SimCity 3000, but not with a 3D modeling program.
Do you have anyone special that you would like to thank?
Jon (austin316hockey): I would like to say thanks to all those who developed Trainz, you all have created an outstanding product that should be a model for other products out there. It has taken a lot of work, but the community we have from that is incredible, one of which I am proud to be a member.
Terry (thor1): I would like to thank the Auran Team and third party content
designers who deserve a real pat on the back. Please keep up the excellent work. A big thank you goes to Russ for the concept of one of the best ideas in creating Toronto Yard Project. Russ it is a pleasure to know and working with you.
Al (skybear): I would like to thank Jon Hull for being so generous in helping me personally in improving my computer skills and teaching me so much about Trainz
Russ (rmilland): I would like to thank whichever of the founders of Trainz it was that decided to build the advanced "community management system" for nurturing the growth of Trainz. Beyond the founders, that means my also thanking Henk Plaggemars for his efforts in personally growing the world-wide Trainz community as the Trainz on the Road Coordinator and, of course, John Banks, who as it turned out, had a passion for community building and has completed a Ph.D. Thesis on the superb online interactive TRAINZ community building story.
Dave (aradlaw): Russ summed up the major players very well, I would like to add my thanks to the many custom content creators who have brought the simulation more to life and magnified the enjoyment.
Martin (martinvk): I would like to thank all the wonderful and creative people around the world who have added both content and utilities to Trainz. As a content creator, I can appreciate the effort that goes into making something and the joy when other people like it too.
Do you have any parting comments on the project as it comes to a close?
Russ (rmilland): We had no idea when we started this route if today's computers had the "horsepower" to support a real time simulation of these very complex rail lands. We knew Trainz had the capability and functionality to provide what we wanted. In the end we had to be very very careful with our poly counts and were a little disappointed that we can't yet put the detail we would have liked into the layout. This route will really stretch your computer so make sure you know how to "turn down the performance sliders" if you need to have the trains run smoothly.
We are very pleased to be at the leading edge and believe we are the first to successfully build a set of yards this complex. This is just the beginning for the Rail Lands route. We plan to develop Rail Lands further and will be releasing new versions in the future as we move towards installing this route in a planned full size simulator at our museum.
The attached picture shows most of the members of our team. At the top (left to right) are Terry Morris (Thor1), Russ Milland (rmilland), Tom Landers (tlanders), Al Sharpe (skybear). At the bottom are Martin Van Kuilenburg (martinvk), Jay Larkin (crazy_irishman), Jon Hull (austin316hockey) and Dave Lawrence (aradlaw). Not shown in these team pictures are Derek Boles, our team historian and Ferd Mels, our graphics designer both of whom eagerly await a Macintosh version of Trainz so they too can play!
We hope you enjoy the route and welcome your feedback through our website at www.trha.ca