When it comes to train simulating I sometimes find that exploring a new route can be just as much enjoyable as driving a train. Why you ask? Well, it’s kind of fun just trying to find all of the hidden eye candy that cannot be seen from the limited view of the track. This was how I felt with the new Bristol to Exeter route released from Just Trains, I didn’t want to just jump into a train and see it I wanted to explore it!
So, the first thing I did was use what I call the “superman mode of movement” in Rail Works and I went about flying low and slow over the terrain that surrounds the Bristol to Exeter route to get a better look of what has been done here.
Bristol to Exeter from Just Trains
The route itself features over 85 miles of track that run between Bristol Temple Meads to Exeter St. Thomas in the United Kingdom as well as 14 realistically modeled stations in between those cities, along with the loop at Weston-Super-Mare.
The add-on doesn’t stop there as it also features an extensive list of custom designed buildings and landmarks throughout the entirety of the route. In total there are over 30 different buildings and landmarks that have been beautifully designed to coincide with that of their real world counterparts littered throughout the surrounding scenery.
Not only did the developers include custom buildings, but they also added an extensive array of new objects. There is also a vast array of non-drivable rail content that has been made available through this route as it adds things like the Class 20, 60 and the FNA Nuclear Flasks. This is another great reason I love getting a new route like this because I know that all of these new buildings and objects will be available in the world editor for future route design or route customization.
Where this route really stands out though is the inclusion of the new features introduced in Rail Works 2, as the train driver you will see functioning crossing guards on roadways and have the ability to make use of the career modes that have been integrated into Rail Works 2. The functioning crossing guards are really an improvement over the old version of Rail Works and even Rail Simulator because now you actually hear when a train is coming with the warning signals as the guards drop down to block traffic.
This add-on also comes with 8 different scenarios plus a free roam scenario and they include activities such as passenger transport, shunting, and transporting passengers in bad weather. Also included is the ZZA Snow Plough which comes in handy when snow needs to be cleared from the tracks.
Using Bristol to Exeter
Once installed, the Bristol to Exeter route is easy to access and it can be found in the route menu in Rail Works 2, from there you can choose by scenario or by train and free roam to get you on the tracks.
The biggest thing for me when going into these routes is not knowing the geography and not having a familiarity with the layout of the route and its stops. Before Rail Works 2, I would spend a great deal of time studying the layout of the route on Google Earth and reading up on the history of the route just to get a good idea of what I was getting into. Even though the map system was always decent in RW, it didn’t allow itself to be viewed from within the train.
Well, with Rail Works 2 the new HUD display has a section at the bottom of the display that shows the elevation of the track, signals and how far you are from each station. This is an excellent addition because no matter how hard I try, I always manage to overshoot a stop at one point or another because I couldn’t get the train stopped in time. This was of significant help when learning this route since after you do the route a couple times you will actually learn to anticipate the stop based on landmarks that surround the stations.
Before jumping into the scenarios I recommend using the free roam a couple times just to get a good feel for the route and this way it allows you to experience the route and it surroundings without any constraints that the scenarios may offer.
Driving and experiencing the route!
As with all train routes there is the usual point A to point B navigation, in this case you are going from Bristol to Exeter, with all of the stops in between. I did find that with Bristol to Exeter there are a couple of places where you can get off that course and add a C or D stop if necessary. But be warned that some of those excursions only have a couple miles of track and your run will be stopped short real fast!
Maintaining the rules of the rail are important and are fully realized in the Bristol to Exeter package as there is little forgiveness for skipping a red stop signal, exceeding the posted speed and not following a schedule time in a scenario. I like the way the alerts and warnings have all been implemented into the route system and they are fully realized in the Bristol to Exeter package.
The first time out with a train I decided to just use the free roam mode, that way I would not be bound by a schedule and I could just look around and enjoy the ride. I started at Bristol-Temple Meads and made my way around the Weston Super Mare Loop heading back to the mainline and onto Exeter.
Even in free roam there was a lot to see and do from the helm of my train, the great thing with free roam is that you can pick just about any train that is available in the default Rail Works program and when you get bored with one you can just pick another and do something totally different with the route.
As I made my way from Bristol Meads, the scenery turned from a sprawling city to that of English countryside and as you move along you will start to notice things like old abandoned train stations and stops that are grown over with weeds, to that of the newer more modernized rail stops and stations.
Each city and town that you pass through is presented rich in detail, although most cityscapes and towns use a generic set of scenery objects and buildings, there are obvious signs of the customized scenery objects and buildings in the more populated areas.
Travelling further into the countryside also reveals more of the functioning crossing gates, animated vehicles and people that do actually stop for the approaching trains. Depending on what scenario you choose you will also find yourself at the mercy of the weather and even other trains.
At one point I blew through a red signal and the end result was that the train alarm starting going off and my engine came to a screeching halt. Later on I realized that I hadn’t checked the route map and failed to switch tracks when I needed to because of a parked train at the next stop.
Another great feature in the Rail Works 2 world is the ability to customize or add to a route. In theory one could take some of the jump off points that go nowhere and add their own route to the existing route making it even larger or add your own rail content to a route like Bristol to Exeter. So if you want to drive a steam engine on the Bristol to Exeter line it is possible!
Bristol to Exeter can be purchased from Just Flight/ Just Trains for $30.65 either by download or boxed product, both come with manuals. The download of course comes with a PDF version of the manual and the box has a printed manual.
After having spent a great deal of time with the Bristol to Exeter route one can’t help but fall in love with it and with its attention to detail you can’t help but realize how much work must have gone into this add-on in its overall design.
In my opinion this is probably one of the best routes Just Trains have done yet and the fact that it was designed for Rail Works 2 makes it all the better!
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