A Review by Peter Hayes, May 16th 2014
Just Trains produces excellent models and scenery for Dove Tail Games’ Train Simulator 2014 (TS2014) and earlier variations. The Class 20 Advanced Collection is an updated model of British Rail Class 20 Diesel Electric Locomotive, light mixed freight traffic for the simulator.
The first Class 20 collection from Just Trains was released in 2011 and featured the locomotive in several liveries (10) and scenarios (12), and the cabs featured night-time and daytime cabs. Just Trains issued patches over time ever improving the locomotive.
Finally in April/May 2014 the Class 20 Advanced Collection became available either as standalone DLC or as an upgrade (for those that had purchased the original Class 20). Just Trains stated that the Class 20 Advanced, “has been fully updated to the TS2014 advanced standard and now features many immersive features such as advanced operating controls and realistic systems.”
The Advanced Collection now comprises 15 liveried Class 20 locomotives, with authentic sounds, unique wagons and 15 standard scenarios on a variety of routes in TS2014.
Download and Install
The package full and upgrade is available as a download (175MB). I believe that a boxed version is also available, but I could not spot it on Just Trains’ website at this time.
Installation is typical of Just Trains, just open the supplied (.exe) file enter your login details to verify the purchase, and the installer finds the correct path to install the software in TS2014. If you have the original Class 20 Collection installed, you must uninstall this version first using the \Control Panel\Programs & Features\Uninstall option in Windows. Installation is quick, easy, and usually without incident. An upgrade has been issued by Just Trains fixing a few minor issues. This upgrade automatically uninstalls the preceding Class 20 Advanced Collection and installs the fixed version.
Just Trains provides a complete 46 page manual (aka "Driver's Guide") which can be found using the \Start Menu\All Programs\Just Trains\Class 20 Advanced Collection\Class 20 Advance Manual.
The Manual (aka Driver’s Guide) is an essential read. The manual provides all of the information about this model, including: the various liveries (pictures), a description of the cab controls, and how to drive and operate the locomotive. General information is also given about the wagon sets included, and how to include the DLC (Downloadable Content) into your own scenarios. The manual details the installation (and uninstallation) process, so it’s worth reading for that information alone. As I always say, “If in doubt read the manual first!”
Background, Courtesy of Wikipedia
The British Rail (BR) Class 20 diesel-electric locomotive, aka English Electric Type 1. A total of 228 Class 20’s were built by English Electric between 1957 and 1968.
The original numbers were D8000–D8199 and D8300–D8327, and are affectionately known by railway enthusiasts as "Choppers", because of the distinctive sound that the engine makes, - that apparently resembles the sound of a helicopter (well modelled in the Just Trains version). Some were built with head codes and others without and Just Trains models the variants well.
The 73-tonne Diesel Electric locomotives are approx. 47’ (14.3m) long, approx. 9’ (2.7m) wide, approx. 13’ (3.9m) high and produce 1,000 horsepower (750 kW). Operational speed is at or up to 75 mph (121 km/h). Designed to work light mixed freight traffic, they have no train heating facilities
Specifications of the Just Trains Class 20 Advanced Collection
15 Class 20 Advanced Liveries:
- British Rail – Blue
- British Rail – Green
- British Rail – Headcode box
- British Rail – Weathered
- DRS (Direct Rail Services)
- DRS (Direct Rail Services) Compass (20301-20305)
- DRS (Direct Rail Services) Compass (20306-20315)
- DRS - Refurbished
- DRS – Refurbished & weathered
- GBRF (GB Rail freight) 20901
- GBRF (GB Rail freight) 20905
- HNRC (Harry Needle Railroad Company)
- Lafarge Cement
Class 20 Advanced Collection Features:
- Dynamic exhaust - dense smoke at start-up, color and density varies with engine load and temperature
- External rain effects on glass which are cleared by wiper operation
- Variable-speed, independent left and right rain-clearing wipers which work with TS2014 rain effects
- Working cab and instrument lights
- Quick Drive compatible
- TS2104 lens flare on HID light-equipped locomotives
- Ammeter tracks RPM as well as throttle position
- Braking too hard for extended periods will lead to an audible wheel flat forming
- Individual horn tones
- Driver’s key (must be inserted before reverser can be moved)
- Operating AWS isolation (must be set to On to allow locomotive to be driven)
- AWS/DSD self-test and warning buzzer and bell
- Enhanced cab detail and texturing
- Custom couplings
- Custom driver model
- Custom bogie and coupling sounds
- Forward and reverse driving positions
- Headcode discs and red lamps controlled by lighting switches above side windows
- Electrical and hose connections
- Appropriate period lights
- Headcode boxes
- Disc headcodes
- 3D access cover handles
- Rotating roof ventilation fan
- Authentic and highly detailed cab
- Custom physics
My Visual Observations
The Class 20 Advanced was a workhorse for British Rail, and the Just Trains version reflects this in the 15 liveries supplied. In real life, the Class 20 was usually used in the nose to nose configuration which solved both power and visibility issues. Again, this is reflected in the Just Trains versions, as some realistic, weathered versions are also modelled.
To show the similarities (and differences), below are pictures of the real-life versions compared to the Just Trains versions. In my opinion, Just Trains has done a great job in the exterior modelling of this locomotive and I refer the reader to the above features to see what has been delivered.
Externally, everything works as it should and the skins are rendered in excellent detail. I particularly like the sounds and the dynamic exhaust smoke. The latter was not seemingly affecting frame rates as this effect tends to do in some locomotives. The shadows and detail on the exterior are also faithfully reproduced.
When used for some of the shunting scenarios supplied, the operation and sounds of the custom couplers is very realistic and positive. Once again the collection was showing attention to detail. Lighting is quite comprehensive and varied and will be discussed in the cab section. Suffice to say lighting emulates real life operations.
Included in this section are a couple of wagon types used on British Rail. The two wagon sets depicted are the Rail Head Treatment Train (FEA-F RHTT) and the FNA Nuclear Flask wagons.
According to the Just Trains website:
FEA-F RHTT Configurations:
- All supplied in clean, lightly weathered and heavily weathered versions and giving the following “cleaning/blasting” effects:
- Water - Water - Water
- Water - Water - Sandite
- Water - Generator - Water
- Water - Generator - Sandite
- ActivWagon smart coding
- Night lighting effects
The RHTT is a specialist rake of FEA-F wagons comprising: a generator pack, water tanks and a Sandite® (a mixture of sand, aluminium and adhesive) dispenser.
The wagons form a vital role in autumn (fall) where they blow fallen leaves off the rails giving better grip and avoiding wheel slip braking issues. The wagons are highly detailed and I was provided different configurations. I also observed weathering skins from pristine to very grubby and dirty! The ActivWagon Smart-Coding (mentioned above) allows amongst other detail a flashing red tail lamp.
The spraying effects can be operated by using the CTRL+R key on the keyboard and when used in this collection the spray starts automatically between 35 to 60 mph and can be toggled on or off using the CTRL + R key as above. The spraying effects look very realistic.
Included are scenarios that use the cleaning feature of the RHTT wagons. The Manual displays pictures of the various configurations of the types of spray to be used.
FNA Nuclear Flask Wagon (FNA NFW) Configurations:
- Both versions are supplied in clean, lightly weathered and heavily weathered versions
- Loaded (shows hazard diamonds)
- Unloaded (no hazard diamonds)
- ActivWagon smart coding
The FNA NFW is a specialised rail wagon that is used to transport spent nuclear materials in (Magnox©) flasks between UK nuclear power stations and the spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility at Sellafield. Normally each flask weighs >50 tonnes, and transports usually not more than 2.5 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel
The FNA NFW wagon set normally runs as a single or twin rake. You cannot tell from the exterior if the wagon is transporting nuclear waste, as the fuel flask is securely stored inside the rectangular box in the middle of the wagon. However, if there is no spent fuel on-board then the hazard warning diamonds are missing from the side of the wagon. Again these features are modelled in the Just Trains Collection, and there are included scenarios that reflect this. Further, when using the Class 20, there would always be 2 locomotives (in case one breaks down) hauling the spent fuel, and this is also reflected in the Just Trains scenarios.
I did not wear any lead underwear (boxers) when simming the “nuclear” scenarios as I am reliably informed that there is little danger, when using these highly specialised wagons/flasks, of immolation by nuclear radiation as they pass by.
In the Cab
The cab is well detailed showing (in the same cab) the forward and reverse positions. All of the gauges are depicted (as in the real deal) these can be illuminated by using an overhead switch. The cab itself is illuminated at night again by using an overhead switch, which makes it easier to set up the various parameters (e.g., AWS solation lever) before driving.
The controls can be manipulated using the mouse, keyboard, Xbox 360® PC controller and/or a mixture of all 3. I did not test the controls using a Raildriver® controller. In my opinion, the cab is very well detailed, displaying all the pertinent switches, levers, buttons, etc., and you could drive this locomotive without the F3/F4 HUDs, with the mouse/controller/keyboard, with perhaps just using the F5 HUD for occasional reference.
There is excellent forward vision; rear is not so good, but that may be why they used to run back to back in pairs. A detailed list of the cab features can be found in the manual or on the Just Trains website.
These are very good and Just Trains stated they are “authentic sounds recorded from the current Class 20” giving the distinctive “Choppers (helicopter)” rhythmic “######-######” sound. I liked all of the sounds and didn’t feel the need to use a 3rd Party add-on soundpack (which are also excellent) for this locomotive. The Class 20 sounds good using earphones or a set of speakers and you can certainly give your sub-woofer a work out.
The Class 20 Advanced Collection comes with 15 “Standard” Scenarios on various RSC/DTG UK routes, from the North East to the South West of the country. You will need to check that you own all of the required routes and if you don’t that you can purchase them from either the Just Trains website and/or from the STEAM store, and one free route from the RailWorks Community Workshop. You will be carrying out duties both passenger and freight including the specialised wagons, detailed above. A comprehensive guide to the scenarios is given in the manual.
The scenarios are very good giving a wide variety of simming duties, such as passenger duties, freight, rail blasting, and nuclear waste—all of which are excellent at giving many happy hours driving these nicely modelled diesels and wagons.
The Class 20 Advanced – Engineer’s Perspective
Before you start I would climb into the cab (as easy as pressing “1” on the keyboard) and familiarise the controls and lighting switches, as the cab is extremely dark at night. Fortunately Just Trains provide “A Quick Class 20 Driving Lesson” in the manual, and that is a must read. The cab light is much improved in the latest upgrade. Before you can drive the locomotive you have complete certain steps as you would in real life (see pictures above).
- If the cab is “cold and dark”, i.e. the engine is off:
- Turn on the battery by pressing the SHIFT + B combination.
- Locate the master key which is lying just in from the throttle and reverser and drag and insert that into the console.
- Move the AWS Isolation lever to ON (i.e. UP) – this is cleverly hidden just adjacent to the driver’s seat on the right hand side and is difficult to see and operate if you do not know where it is.
- Cancel the AWS warning buzzer/bell with the mouse or “Q” key.
- Move the reverser forward or backward (W/S) as appropriate.
- Release the train brakes ( key.
- Move the throttle forward (A) key to pull away.
The throttle and brakes are progressive and smooth, bearing in mind you need greater braking effort when hauling a heavy consist or passenger coaches. The Class 20 is easy to drive and control and works well with either the mouse, the keyboard, or a controller,
Lighting is varied and appropriate for a UK diesel locomotive of that period. You can turn on the headlights using the “H” key, and there are several other lighting switches and options on the overhead lighting consoles above the driver's head in both positions forward or reverse. There is also a lighting procedure when uncoupling wagons and this is described in the manual.
The cab engine and ambient sounds are great and reflect the speed of the train in motion, cornering and/or stopping. On the outside the noises are louder, as they are in real life, with the locomotive sound throbbing majestically with the subby lifting off the floor, track sounds are great, and there a good audible sounds from the wagons. At first I thought an AWS alarm or the “green light” bell could only be heard inside the cab but I certainly heard the bell in the drivers head out of the cab. I will have to investigate further once the review is published.
Smoke effects from the exhausts are visible, good and are coordinated with the throttle position, puffing out as the throttle is increased.
In the Class 20 you will see that the driving cab is located at one end only, i.e. the same cab is used for going both forward and reverse. In TS2014 the ‘flatter’ end of the engine is the front end i.e. the cab position that you use when driving the engine forwards. In the simulator this works fine and you can usually couple a consist at the “right” end of the locomotive and travel in the correct direction to the next destination. Well, sometimes anyway.
Driving in reverse you use right keyboard arrow (or up/down arrow on the F4/HUD) swivel around and use the view from the rear-facing window i.e. towards the long nose of the engine. Using the left keyboard arrow brings you back to the “normal” forward position.
However, if you have two Class 20 Advanced locomotive’s coupled together, then you can switch cab ends in the ‘normal TS2014’ manner i.e. using [Ctrl]-[+] and [Ctrl]-[-]. However, one tip, if you do have two locomotives and are asked to switch cabs i.e. from one locomotive to the other facing different directions, you need to reset the AWS isolation lever i.e. to OFF, and remove the master key, setting the reverser to off, brakes ON, throttle at 0 before switching to the new cab, which then must be set up again to drive in the correct direction. This does not seem to be covered in the manual.
I only tested the Class 20 in “expert” mode so have no knowledge how well it operates using simple controls, as I find the latter to be totally unrealistic. I enjoyed the driving experience and all 15 scenarios tested my abilities, and were all able to be completed. You can’t ask for more than that!
For me, an amateur train simming enthusiast, I found that the physics were good and I had no issues when running the locomotive(s) on, its/their own and hauling a very heavy consist up a steep incline. They felt realistic, but as I say, I have no real knowledge of operating this type of locomotive in the real world. I liked the way that the Class 20 handled and the scenarios were interesting and relatively easy to complete especially after a small upgrade from Just Trains.
I should mention that I already own the IHH Class 20 (now no longer in business) and this has been revamped and reintroduced by DTG and can be purchased on steam. I have not compared the 2 variants, so cannot draw any conclusion as to whether one is “better” than the other. Eventually when the RSC version goes on “special” I shall probably buy it and see how the 2 go head to head. You can never have too many locomotives in your virtual sheds and sidings!
How does it run on my PC?
My PC specs are listed below, and I did not see any real impact on frame rates, suffer any stuttering or minor pauses using this locomotive. I use TSX ON and OFF and in both cases performance was fine and image clarity very good.
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Intel Core i5 3470 @ 3.20/3.60GHz
16.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 802 x 2MHz (9-9-9-24)
Z68X-UD3H-B3 (Socket 1155)
DELL 24” Resolution (1920x1200@59Hz)
2047MB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (MSI – Maxwell)
223GB KINGSTON SV300S37A240G (SSD)
Realtek High Definition Audio
TSX Graphics Settings
FXAA+2 x 2xSSAA
Depth of Field
This is a great 3rd party add on from Just Trains and I’m glad to have it in my virtual sidings. Once you have grasped the basics it’s easy to operate, with the 15 scenarios keeping you busy for some while. One caveat, because Just Trains does not distribute their products via STEAM, none of the community workshop scenarios will run without editing them in something like RW Tools. That aside I’m sure that there will be scenarios say from websites like UKTS, trainsim.com and others.
I give it 9 out of 10 on my chuffometer – well worth it.
Images 002 - 004 included with the courtesy of
First Class 20 locomotive courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author Phil Sangwell
Second courtesy Wikimedia Commons author Dave Hitchborne
Third Class 20 locomotive courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author Phil Sangwell
Fourth Class 20 locomotive courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author Dan Sellers
Fifth Class 20 locomotive courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author pcgenius9