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    Scottish East Coast Mainline & The Voyager Advanced


    Gaiiden

    Publisher: Just Trains
    Platform: Train Simulator 2012 (Railworks)
    Format: Download & boxed
    Reviewed By: Gene Davis

    Just Trains never ceases to amaze me when it comes to new routes designed for Railworks or Train Simulator 2012 as it is now referred to and they have done it yet again with the Scottish East Coast Mainline (SECM). Designed by Malcom Gwynne and sold through Just Trains the Scottish East Coast Mainline offers an immersive environment that is both visually and audibly stunning and is yet another great addition to your virtual train collection that will add hours to your virtual rail experience.

    Purchase and Installation

    To get your hands on the SECM route just go to the Just Trains website and purchase it. The add-on is available either via download or boxed product and is reasonably priced at $30.65 for either one.

    To properly install the SECM route you will need to have to have an updated copy of Train Simulator 2012, also known as Railworks 3: Train Simulator 2012. This update is available for free to all registered users of Railworks usually via whatever service they purchased the main program from, in my case it was the service Steam.

    Once you ensure that you are fully updated you can install the SECM route, in my case I used the download version of SECM and activation is required via the Just Flight / Just Trains website using your username and password to verify purchase. Once activated the install process will automatically locate TS2012 and install the route and for future installs to the same computer you will not be asked to activate because it will store a key in your registry allowing you to install without activating. But, if you get into a situation where you have to start all over again as far as an operating system is concerned, all you will need to do is reactivate.

    It is also important to check the Just Trains website for product updates periodically because there are always changes being made. Included with the download is a 28 page manual that outlines the entire route and includes route maps as well, the boxed version includes the printed version of the manual which is nice because it's nice to have the maps at hand.

    The Scottish East Coast Mainline

    The SECM route covers almost 120 miles of track between the towns of Perth to Dundee and south from Dundee to Edinburgh with over 20 different stops in between. Along the way you will stop in places like Hey Market, South Gyle, Dalmeny, in North Queensferry, Inverkelthing, Aberdour, Delgaety Bay, Burntisland, Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy, Markinch, Ladybank, Springfield, Cupar, and Leuchars in the province of Fife and additional stops that break off the mainline in Glenrothes, Thornton and Rosyth, along with Slateford and Kingsknowe from Edinburgh. Additionally you can also travel the mainline from Perth to Dundee before switching to the mainline at Dundee and heading south for Fife, this is a nice, quiet and fast ride that will help acclimate the user.

    The one thing a route like this must capture is the look and feel of the area it is trying to capture in order for it to be convincing, especially if you are going to spend the amount of time you will have to spend when travelling the line and in my opinion the designer has done just that as he has created one of the most graphically pleasing and intensely detailed routes I have seen yet for Train Simulator 2012!

    As you travel the main line you will see cities and towns that have been brought to life with their own custom objects, buildings and landmarks that are particular to that region of the world and most importantly, significant to the individual cities and towns they represent along the Scottish countryside.

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    There is a big difference when travelling from say, Edinburgh and traversing North through the countryside of Fife and that is because of the sleepy little towns that litter the mainline heading north, gone is the hustle and bustle of the large city and crowded platforms; you soon take notice of the older towns that seem to be stuck back in time as you travel through them and they are a little less crowded than your larger more populated areas.

    Another nice feature is the addition of atmospheric sound effects that are particular to the towns and cities in Scotland and they literally do bring the Scottish country side to life because almost every stop is different; for example, when leaving Perth at sunrise you will hear not only the city slowly waking up to the sound of police sirens in the background and birds chirping, you will also hear the sound of bag pipe's playing off in the distance. Voice announcements also can be heard at some of the larger stops along the line, though they are most often a generic recording and don't really affect the player, but they do offer an element of realism when it comes to the virtual passengers.

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    If I had two things that stood out in my mind about this route, the first has be that of the Forth Bridge that crosses the Firth Of Forth; as it is one of the most accurately designed bridges I have seen yet in any TS2012 add-on. I have taken the time to compare pictures of the real bridge to the one in SECM and I must say that I am ultimately impressed with its level of detail and sheer size and how it has been brought to life in TS2012.

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    The other is probably the illusion of wind effects on the train as you cross the River Tey, I am not really sure if the wind really does affect the train because I did try to derail the train by travelling the bridge at almost 80MPH and it made it across just fine, but the deafening sound of the wind and the way the train actually road the track as I sped up gave me a real sense of urgency that it would ultimately derail given the speed of the train and my careless driving.

    Rail Content and Scenarios

    The route utilizes the DMU, the HST and the Class 37 engines for most of its scenarios, but if you own the Just Trains Voyager add-on it also offers a scenario for it as well. Each is offered in its own Scottish livery representing the rail traffic in that particular region to make it as accurate as possible.

    There are 11 different scenarios that involve driving the DMU, the HST, the Class 37 and one that allows for use of the Voyager. The Voyager route will have you travelling the first leg from Dundee to Penzance aboard the Virgin Voyager 220 which is best known for making the longest train journey in Great Britain. Also included are 4 free roam scenarios that involve all of the above engines, and have you driving from Dundee, Perth, Waverly, and Forth Bridges.

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    The free roam scenarios will allow you to actually get out and see more the scenery close up in places like the Forth Bridges where you can watch other rail traffic make the journey across the channel, this was kind of nice because it really gives the user a chance to experience the scenery without the hassle of managing a train.

    The individual scenarios include everything from hauling passengers to heavy freight and range from time schedules, night and day challenges, to simply watching for other rail traffic, pedestrians and/or vehicle traffic. Once again, the most important factor in any of these scenarios is to simply follow the posted signals, maintain time schedules and follow the rules as laid out to you in the briefings before you begin your run.

    The Scottish East Coast Mainline route is by far one of the most impressive routes I have used with TS2012 to date, it just has so much to offer that it is really a must have for just about anyone that enjoys train simulating and to put it quite frankly words just can't describe it!

    Just Trains Voyager Advanced

    Some time back I took a look at the Voyager add-on for the original Rail Simulator and since then it has progressed with several updates to make the original title work in the newer Railworks series but Just Trains has released yet another major update, or what you might call a totally new working title called Voyager Advanced.

    This is still the Voyager AST train, but it has undergone a complete make-over with a more advanced cockpit and a better looking model along with a better physics engine that gives the user the illusion of movement from within the train from the perspective of the engineer.

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    The package includes both the 220 and 221 model of the Voyager and includes 11 different engines and liveries from within TS2012. The external engine and adjoining passenger cars have all been redone making them richer in detail and visually more accurate to that of their real world counterpart. Most impressive is the movement of the train from both inside and out as the train gives the illusion of movement from the perspective of the train engineer when taking corners at the higher speed the Voyager travels at. I guess this could be compared to the head bob in Flight Simulator, but on a much more realistic scale as the train’s movements affects the physics of the entire train giving the train that ability to tilt like it does in real life when traveling at higher speeds for stability.

    The cab has had a major renovation and is now totally controllable from within the virtual cab and matches that of the control system of the real world Voyager train. I found it almost impossible to control the Voyager from the virtual engineer’s panel from within TS2012 and found that you are all but required to use the controls within the Voyager engine; this is what makes it "advanced.'

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    Lighting, route control, passenger heating, cab heating, to the overall control of the entire train can be performed from the cab along with many other features. In total there are six different control panels in the cab of the train all with functioning switches and displays that can be accessed in some way or another. Controlling the Voyager and even just getting it going does require some learning, luckily the manual that is included is straightforward and to the point and will get you going in no time.

    Most impressive has to be that of the TMS, the train management system, touch screen as it gives the engineer an idea of what is happening on the train along with the route as he or she progresses down the line. Anomalies will appear on the screen if something is wrong and allow for the engineer to correct it.

    The sound for the Voyager has also been totally reworked, if not replaced for this add-on and it is now much more impressive than it was in its original release some years back. From internal warnings and passenger alerts to a fantastic sound package both inside and out the Voyager has been brought to life audibly in this new Advanced model.

    Voyager Advanced comes with 8 different scenarios covering most of the European routes and some US bound routes, along with free roam in just about every available European route and some US routes. One of the reasons I included this write up with the SECM article was the fact that the Voyager fits in nicely along the Scottish countryside and has both free roam and a scenario available for it.

    Voyager Advanced is available from Just Trains and can be purchased for $29.99 either via download or boxed product, but if you owned the original Voyager, either boxed or download, you can get the upgrade for $11.99 which is a great deal!


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