Railsim UK
Hawes Junction

Hi Mike, Tell us a little bit about your group.

The Railsim group was formed shortly after the announcement by Auran of the Trainz Partnership Scheme. The group was originally brought together by Paul Franklin (Chileanllama) over the course of a number of weeks following a large number of e-mail and telephone exchanges. I (Michael Banfield - a.k.a. Mike10) have to admit that at first I was reluctant to join the group, fearing that I would not have the time to make any meaningful contribution. When it became clear who the other members were going to be, the opportunity of collaborating with such a group of very talented and prolific creators meant that I just had to be involved.

After the initial stages of setting out the project Paul found that, due to personal circumstances, he did not have the time to lead the group in the way he wished and so I found myself fulfilling the role as the group's coordinator. This has proved to be every bit as much a challenge as creating the content I originally joined to provide. Given the global spread of the group's members it has lead to some late nights and early mornings for several of us as we all endeavour to communicate effectively to realise our ideas in a form that can be included in Trainz. In total there are 10 members of the group, all involved in some degree to bringing our dreams to fruition. Most of these members are spread around the UK from Scotland in the North down to Surrey and Kent in the South, We also have members in Germany and Australia as well to add to the challenge.

So, who are the members of your group? What skills do they bring to the group?

My own role is as coordinator and scenery creator (mostly bridges and buildings I have to say) as well as helping out with research. The two route builders are Paul Franklin (Chileanllama) and Andrew Howard (AndrewH) Andrew has created most of what we have achieved to date and has developed as the hub around which the rest of us rotate. The glamour boys of the outfit are the loco and rolling stock creators, and I am pretty sure that these are going to need very little in the way of an introduction. David Dallaston (Pikkabird) is well know to many of us I'm sure, and fans of UK content will no doubt also be aware of Paul Hobbs (Paulhobbs) and Steve Dark (Sdark). Steve is assisted in his content creation by Alex Barnard (Wulfruna). One of the multi-talented members of the team is James Moody (Bloodnok) who turns his hand to creating scenery and rollingstock, as well as scripting and all sorts of activities in order to bring our ideas to life. Terry Franks (Tafweb) has supplied many of the buildings and finishing touches that you will find on our route. Although no longer an active member of the team Don Woodman (Wulf9) was instrumental in the early stages in establishing what we could achieve. Finally I must mention Stuart Downs (Deltic_Kid) who casts a critical eye over our work and spends many an hour researching.

Have you produced any content for a previous version of Trainz?

To be honest, this would be a very long list. I think the best thing will be to let a few of the team members explain for themselves what they have created in the past.

Firstly let's hear what Paul Hobbs has to say;

"I have produced several diesel shunters, goods wagons and a couple of steam locos for previous Trainz versions, in particular the Flying Scotsman and the twelve private owner wagons included with TRS2004.

If I had to say which are the best examples of my output on the DLS I'd pick the D2400 and 01 class diesel shunters, mainly because they were the last to be released and benefited most from the experience I have collected during the three years that I have been creating content for Trainz.?

Moving on, James has also created a good deal of varied content;

If you've come into contact with my work before, it'll probably have been the bare platform passenger-interactive stations, or the UK full and half barrier level crossings. I've also made track with 3rd and 4th rail electrification built in to simplify the creation of electrified routes to Southern Region and London Underground standards, overhead catenary to install in the restricted space available in tunnels, and some assorted lineside signs and equipment. I know it's a bit of a mixed bag, but the inspiration to create something often comes from not being able to find something suitable to put on my layout.

"I've also been working on some rolling stock, and the first piece was released recently - the VAA van, now available in Railfreight and Speedlink colours. It has a working handbrake, working couplers, opening doors (even the door handles are animated), and a tail lamp will be fitted if it is the last vehicle in a train. You may have seen some of my other projects - both the FFA/FGA freightliner set and the MkIIIa carriages are at an advanced stage, and have been well publicised. Although I'm currently busy working on my contribution to TRS2006, I aim to get these released soon(tm). Screenshots of HS4000 'kestrel' and the APT-P rake have also been posted - these are in earlier stages of completion, and need more work to finish them off, so expect to see them released some time after the freightliner set and MkIIIa carriages."

I would also like to let you know of what the other members of the team have previously created.

David Dallaston, or Pikkabird as you more than likely know him, is of course regarded by many as one of the foremost content creators for Trainz. David's stand-out work for me has to be the Class 37 locomotive he has recently released. Whilst this certainly is an impressive contribution to furthering the quality of Trainz content one must not forget the HBA and HAA wagons and the brake van he has also made available and of an equally high standard.

Terry Franks will also be a familiar name to most of you, a lot of the UK buildings, as well as the modular station system, you will find in TRS2004 were created by Terry. Of course Terry's main claim to fame is his excellent TrainzObjectz program without which a lot of us would have a great deal less hair than we have now.

Those of you interested in the UK scene will of course be using the Mk1 coaches included in TRS2004, for these we have to thank Steve Dark and Alex Barnard, also members of the Railsim team, and creating again for us for our ongoing projects.

Fans of the Rosworth Vale route will know of the work of Paul Franklin. Paul's ability to create a route with just the right balance of detail, performance, and that all-important "feel" is a talent many of us strive to emulate.

For myself, you may know of the animated junctions I created for use in UTC, I have also created many bridges, and tracks. My Forth Bridge is a particular favourite of mine and it is always gratifying to see the lengths people will sometimes go to in order to justify its inclusion in their route. In addition I have uploaded a large number of those smaller items that make the scene more believable, for example, one of my efforts is the pile of sleepers. You may be surprised to know that despite its inclusion in the TRS2004 retail package I believe it is the most downloaded piece of content on the DLS at the time of writing.

I have also ventured into the realms of locos and rolling stock to create a couple of versions of the Class 35 Hymek and a Southern Railways class Q1. Also there's the class 59/66 and the JHA hopper wagons to accompany them.

What kind of content are you working on for inclusion in TRS2006?

Our main inclusion for TRS2006 will be the Hawes Branch of the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line. This branch was closed on 16th March 1959 and crossed the Pennines from the station at Garsdale, to the junction with the NER at Hawes. In addition to the route itself a good deal of scenery has been created for inclusion within the route as well as several items of rolling stock and a locomotive.

Again I'll let some of the creators explain more for themselves. We'll start with Paul Hobbs once more;

"Since June 2004 I have been building content for TRS2006 - continuing the theme of goods wagons the models are some of the standard wagons introduced by British Railways during the 1950s plus a few others. In comparison with my previous wagons these have a higher polygon count and are extensively scripted to provide features that have not been seen to date on British outline models for Trainz, and some that are completely new.

For example the brake gear is animated (including the handbrake levers and shoes) and mirrors the state of the brakes in Trainz. Where appropriate doors and fillers open when loading and unloading and doors and fillers may be "posed" in Surveyor and in Driver.

Even the van roofs have their own script which randomly select one of five different textures which ensures that nominally identical models look different when placed.

As a break from building the wagons I have also completed a Fowler 4F steam loco which includes another first for the UK scene, headcodes which can be changed in Surveyor and Driver. These were used to denote the class of train being hauled and can be set separately for the engine and tender. A script for each lamp ensures that when the loco couples up to other rolling stock the lamps are switched off.

The Fowler 4F came in two main versions in real life, left and right hand drive and the same is true of the Trainz version. Left or right hand drive can be selected in Surveyor and Driver and the model is changed to suit, including the weathering patterns. As a final touch the shedplate on the smokebox door changes to match the loco number (correct at least for 1960-1963!).

The full version of this loco will include a custom cab and working inside valve gear.

James Moody has also been rather busy working on content for inclusion in TRS2006, here's what he has to say;

I've written a fully functional AWS implementation, which will be included in TRS2006. This includes trackside objects to place on your route and in-cab equipment, fitted to an overhauled version of Aurans Class 37 cab. I intend to release the specification and source to enable other content creators to fit their cabs with AWS equipment. I have also made scenery objects for the route we are submitting, including a new tunnel, some industry interactive stations and an active whistle sign (the AI drivers will honk at it when they pass). A pre-TOPS version of the VAA in the original 1960s specification, classified 'Cov AB', will also be included.

Why did you decide on making this content? Does the group have a particular interest in it?

For most members of the group creating the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line seemed the natural choice. This surely has to be one of the most famous UK routes and gives us the opportunity to create, what I hope you will agree, is something special. Having decided to work upon this route it seemed a good idea to make the Hawes branch for inclusion in TRS2006. This will not only give you a chance to sample the work we have been doing on the main route but will also give us the chance to do something that we all want to do, and that is to create content, for free, that will be enjoyed by fellow Trainz fans who purchase TRS2006. It has also given us the impetus, or even the excuse, to create some great locos and some much needed rolling stock to add to the range of content available for the UK scene. The number of buildings, line-side features and general scenery items required to bring the Settle-Carlisle line to life is going to give many route creators the ability to add to their own routes also.

What is a current item of third-party content (not created by your current group) that you think is an example of high quality?

Paul Hobbs has a particular favourite: A current item of third-party content that I think is an example of high quality would be the UK Class 33 diesel created by zxr400 (Mark) which I would single out not just because it is an outstanding model, but because of the script included which showed just what is possible using the scripting features of Trainz.

I must agree with Paul that the class 33 is indeed a great piece of content.

What is your favourite Railroad / Loco / Train / Model Scale?

My personal preference has to be the Southern Railway, and the southern region of BR. I have a major soft spot for Network South-East (can you see a pattern building here?) as I remember seeing the striking red, white, and blue toothpaste like livery every day when I used to commute to work by train. One of my fascinations with the Southern was their creative use of materials, if you could make it from concrete, old sleepers, and bits of left over track then they would. Signals, fences, buffers, even buildings, were made from these very versatile materials. Plus the Southern also created the ugly-duckling of the locomotive world, the Q1. Only its mother (and me) could love it.

As for Andrew his favourite Railway is the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and favourite locomotive class is "The Princess Royal".

What is your favourite "THING" about TRS2004

Andrew's favourite thing about TRS is the facility to place trains in Surveyor and drive them with one click on the driver icon and I have to say that I probably agree with him. Being able to set the scene and then participate in it with one click of the mouse is a great feature.

James has definite ideas on what his favourite features are;

"One of the things I like best in TRS2004 is the ability to get in under the surface and change and extend the behavior of objects with scripting. In too many other simulations, reality is altered to fit what the program can do. Scripting offers an alternative: To modify the simulation to be more like reality. One of the scripts I'm most proud of is my AI speed control rule, which makes the AIs drive at speeds appropriate to the train they are driving. As a side effect, this has also made them stop at red lights more reliably."

What is your gaming history? MSTS, Transport or Railroad Tycoon, RPG's, RTS's.

Trainz was the first game that I really got heavily involved with, I played many of the earlier Train "games" Railroad Tycoon, Transport Tycoon and the like. If it had a train in it then I'd load it up and give it a go but none of them enthused me to the extent Trainz has.

Andrew says that he has no gaming history of note, but does mention that he always got kicked out of Railroad Tycoon!

I know James is a big fan of BVE and Rail3D.

Do any of the members have any previous experience making games (exluding making content for Trainz)

David has also been a contributor of content for both Transport Tycoon and Locomotion and enjoys the same high regard on the forums there as he does on the Trainz site.

Do you have anyone special that you would like to thank?

I think that all the members of the team would wish to thank Paul Franklin for bringing us all together in the first place and enabling us to achieve what we have.

Paul Hobbs

Andrew Howard

James Moody

Mike Banfield

Terry Franks

David Dallaston

Here are a couple of pics of Paul's superb 4F locomotive, which will be part of our submission for inclusion in TRS2006.

The second of which shows the headcodes, which can be changed in Surveyor and Driver.

A view of some of the wagons Paul has completed so far (the brake van is of course from Pikkabird though).

And finally, here is James? pre-TOPS version of the VAA in the original 1960s specification, classified 'Cov AB'. In the background is the goods shed to be found at Hawes station.

Where can a Trainz User go to check out your work? Do you have a website, or will you be getting one?

We are gradually working on our website and we hope to feature not only our content for inclusion in TRS2006 (as and when our NDA will allow us to post it) but also some details of the full version of the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line that we hope to make available some time after the release of TRS2006.

The website will also feature work by individual members of the team as well as progress of the full route package. One thing we aim to do is to produce content "packs" that will be available to hopefully not only add to your enjoyment of the full route package but to Trainz in general.

You will, of course, be able to access the team member's own websites from the main Railsim site as well as buying or downloading for free the content created by the team and its members.

You will find our site at www.rail-sim.co.uk. Please drop by and have a look.

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