The Railway Operating Division - A commemoration in Train Simulator

Monday November 11th 2019 - Armistice Day

I think I shall start the update here with extracts from a poem I have come to feel is one of the most appropriate First World War Poems for this project -

"When the Waters were dried an' the Earth did appear,

("It's all one," says the Sapper),

The Lord He created the Engineer,

Her Majesty's Royal Engineer,

With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

 

We lay down their sidings an' help 'em entrain,

An' we sweep up their mess through the bloomin' campaign,

In the style of, etc.

 

They send us in front with a fuse an' a mine

To blow up the gates that are rushed by the Line,

But bent by, etc.

 

They send us behind with a pick an' a spade,

To dig for the guns of a bullock-brigade

Which has asked for, etc.

 

We blast out the rock an' we shovel the mud,

We make 'em good roads an' -- they roll down the ~khud~,

Reporting, etc.

 

We make 'em their bridges, their wells, an' their huts,

An' the telegraph-wire the enemy cuts,

An' it's blamed on, etc.

 

We build 'em nice barracks -- they swear they are bad,

That our Colonels are Methodist, married or mad,

Insultin', etc.

 

They haven't no manners nor gratitude too,

For the more that we help 'em, the less will they do,

But mock at, etc.

 

I have stated it plain, an' my argument's thus

("It's all one," says the Sapper),

There's only one Corps which is perfect -- that's us;

An' they call us Her Majesty's Engineers,

Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,

With the rank and pay of a Sapper!"

Verse taken from Rudyard Kipling's The Sapper.

Today is of course Armistice Day, and just over an hour ago the nation largely fell silent in honour of those who have fought and died in the name of Britain and her erstwhile Empire. It is in this spirit of remembrance and commemoration that I initiated this project just over a year ago, and despite very slow progress I have nonetheless been amazed by the amount of support that we have received.

I thought that today would be the most appropriate day on which to give an update on where the project stands currently, and I posted this n the UKtrainsim forum earlier. It is repeated here also.

Released Content

Thus far we have released or had released for us:

Great War Scenario Pack (Thanks to team member Gaetan/Locomotiveman1994)

ROD Reskin for NER T2 0-8-0 (Courtesy of Victory Works)

LBSCR Wagon Reskins (By myself)

Beta Ambulance Coach reskin (By CDC Designs)

Great War period French wagons and assets (Made and Released by Pierre Gauriat)

Belgian 'GC' Coaches (Made and Released by Pierre Gauriat)

WW1 Period Paris-Orlean Tank Livery (Made and Released by Pierre Gauriat)

 

Content in Development

British and French Basic Troops (Pierre Gauriat)

British and French Trench Railway Stock (Pierre Gauriat)

Andrew Barclay 0-4-0WT (Steve Pontin)

Baldwin 4-6-0PT (Kevin Martin/Pierre Gauriat)

Plus something very exciting from Victory Works (More on that shortly).

 

Route Projects

Hazebrouck District Route (Joint Project, progressing very slowly due to computer issues at CDC Designs, where tracklaying has been progressing)

Fictional ROD Western Front Route (Based on the freeware 'Norford Branch' route, made by myself)

'Home Front' route. We are currently investigating several options for this (see these below).

 

'Home Front' Routes

There are currently no period TS routes available, so we are looking to create one. The options currently being considered are largely based around industrial centres, and I'm going to be taking a look at the Southampton end of Southampton-Weymouth with a view to removing the later Western Docks and backdating a portion of the route. Other possibilities, which are probably still going to be pursued eventually, include a route set in NER territory and one representing the huge military port complex at Richborough. I might also take a look at the Longmoor Route with a view to take it back to WIMR WW1 condition.

 

Victory Works Announcement

The most exciting part about this update, for me, is announcing the development of what is certainly a first for Train Simulator - A working rail-mounted gun. If you are reading this then you likely to have an interest in military railway subjects and train simulator, so are likely to be aware of Victory Works' recently-released WD 2-8-0 pack, which includes a 'towable' but otherwise static rendition of the 'Boche Buster' type British rail-mounted gun. Before this was even released, however, Pete of Victory Works had begun transforming it into something truly special, to be supplied as a free addon to the WD 2-8-0 Pack via the ROD project team.

I think I shall let the video speak for itself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHB5yMKk55k

I should clarify that this is still very much in development, and that we have found a few issues during testing. We have also yet to decide how and when we release this.

I think that concludes this update, and I thank you for reading it!

Wednesday 3rd July 2019

So, the centenary of the official end of the war has come and duly gone again but this does not mean we have abandoned all work on the project, far from it!

Firstly we would like to thank everybody who has downloaded the scenario pack made by Gaetan - the number of downloads so far is much greater than we ever expected in such a short space of time! More scenarios continuing the same theme are set to follow soon.

Perhaps more excitingly, however, and in addition to some further tracklaying on the Hazebrouck route, we have recieved some screenshots from Pierre Gauriat of some of the WWI period assets he has been making. He's been very busy with these and has even made us some WDLR narrow gauge stock in addition to static assets! These will be a great addition to the steam loco being provided by Steve Pontin and have the additional advantage of being perfectly correct for the period.

Shown in the photos below are:

     - French SPAD S.XIII Bi-planes

     - Suitably gaunt, dead, trees.

     - Ruined Buildings

     - Sandbag Piles

     - Duckboards

     - French Ambulance/Lorry conversions

     - WDLR Class C Wagons

     - Peuchot Bogie Well Wagons (French)

     - British-Westinghouse Petrol Tractor

SPAD S.XIII Bi-planes

A selection of WWI Assets - Coming soon from Pierre Gauriat.

Friday 28th June 2019

Today is our original planned release date and has marked the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the moment which brought the Great War to an official end but, as we sadly have seen, arguably merely sowed the seeds for the Second World War.

But that is not what we are here for, and today is one for commemorating the event. Your author spent today at the National Railway Museum in York, compiling a list of books and other documents relating to Railways in both the First and Second World Wars for a private research project, also looking at the brilliantly executed Ambulance train exhibition in the corner of the Great Hall. A sensitive and interesting display, and one that I highly recommend for anyone interested in this area of military and railway history, should they be able to visit.

Regarding our release date, we have in fact got a pair of scenarios for you, set on the eve of the beginning of the war. Others will follow shortly, but these first two ought to give a flavour of what is to come. Gaetan has a fantastic way of creating scenarios that are engaging and interesting and his first two Great War scenarios may be downloaded here -

https://www.uktrainsim.com/filelib-info.php?form_fileid=38934

On the eve of the war - An NER C Class 0-6-0 makes its way from Durham to Bishop Auckland on August 5th 1914.

Update, Thursday 20th June

We are no only 8 days away from out orignally planned released date. Once again, real life has got in the way and as such we will only be able to release a limited amount next Friday. We will, however, be releasing something and we hope to be releasing a route and some of the assets towards the end of July.

Thank you for your continued support, even if it's only silent support!

 

 

Update, Friday 31st May 2019

With just under a month until our planned release date it has become increasingly apparent that no part of the main ROD route will be finished in time for our intended release date of June 28th this year. That is not to say that work on this route has stopped, quite the opposite in fact, but that we will be looking to release something else related to the railways of the Great War which will hopefully also give a taste of some of the things set to be included in the route.

Without wishing to give away too much just yet I can say that there will be a route released on June 28th and quite probably a few other items as well. The route won't be set on the main European continent, but in Britain and it will be fictional rather than based on a specific real locality.

In other project news we have another acknowledgement to add to the list in the form of Steve Pontin, known for producing High-Quality Narrow Gauge locos as freeware. We had been struggling to find a vaguely suitable narrow gauge loco to include with the main ROD route and upon approaching Steve he very kindly offered to prepare a variant of his Andrew Barclay 0-4-0WT (Talyllyn Railway No.6 Douglas) for us to include. The loco will be a full model (as opposed to a reskin) and will be in a plain black livery. Although, to my knowledge, no Andrew Barclay tank engines to the same design as Douglas actually served in France, the loco was built for the embryonic RAF in 1918 to work at Calshot so it is of the right period and has a military connection. Plans are also afoot to include a WLDR-Specific loco in the main route download, but this will require some generous outside assistance to complete.

I doubt that it will have escaped the notice of anyone reading this that Caledonia Works recently released a new model of the GCR 8K/ROD 2-8-0 which is, naturally, perfect for our forthcoming route. The author of this update purchaed it Yesterday afternoon and has been very impressed by it - Another fine piece of TS Modelling by Kris Wilson. Unlike the previous rendition of this class of loco, Kris' new version includes the Railway Operating Divison version of the class which differed in several ways from the GCR locomotives. Noticeably different were the inclusion of a Westinghouse Brake Pump on the ROD ones, as well as Continental-Pattern ribbed buffers and a pair of Ross 'Pop' (I believe) safety valves instead of two pairs of Ramsbottom safety valves. These features are all faithfully captured by the new release and indeed the only (very minor) fault that I can find with the ROD Version of the loco is that it appears to lack the side-chains that were fitted to the bufferbeams of the ROD locos. That small detail is very easily overlooked when the rest of this fine rendition is taken into account! It is a pack well worth purchasing, especially if you're interested in our forthcoming ROD route and scenarios as we are certainly going to be using it! It can be purchased from Digital Traction here: http://digitaltraction.co.uk/mainsite/products/cw-gcr-8k-loco-pack/

The usual disclaimer with this sort of appraisal applies - The comments above are my own and I have no personal connection with Digital Traction or Caledonia Works other than as a satisfied customer.

Although in Post-(Great) War Caledonian Railway black, this example shows the basic appearance of the ROD Variant in the above-mentioned pack.

Update, Monday 1st April 2019 (Not an April Fool!!!)

Well time is forever running out, but we do have significant progress to report!

There are now a great many more (well, a few more!) people involved with the project and I would like to pass our thanks to Gordon Mackenzie (of Matrix Trains), Gaëtan Hinterscheid (Locomotiveman1994), Peter (of Victory Works), Pierre Gauriat (of AJRailSim.free.fr), Matthias (of 3DZug) and Street Level Models (who were on the team already but who I'm thanking here anyway!). Thanks also to the SNCF archives, to the Royal Logistic Corps Museum for being positive towards the project and to the SNCB archives for being extremely helpful in providing maps and rolling stock drawings.

Since the last update we are also able to report that there is now to be rolling stock included with the route. Courtesy of Pierre Gauriat we will be able to include:

- Locomotive No.5452 of the Paris Orleans Railway

- Flat and Closed wagons, with WW1 loads, from the Paris Orleans Railway

- Belgian 6-Wheeled 'GC' Coaches

- Many custom assets suitable for the WW1 route (details of these will follow at some stage in the near future)

Courtesy of 3DZug we shall also be able to include CIWL Car No.2419D in which the Armistice was signed at 11:00am on November 11th 1918. This will be from their Orient Express carriage pack, which can be found here: https://www.3dzug.de/product_info.php?info=p278_orient-express.html

Courtesy of Victory Works we now have a Railway Operating Division reskin for their NER T2 in order that it can represent the NER Worsdell T1s, the entire class of which was dispatched to France to serve with the ROD in WWI.

Work has also commenced on the tracklaying around Hazebrouck as it was decided amongst the team that it would be preferable to stick to the original plan and model a real route rather than using a British route and modifying it. Nevertheless I wish to thank Armstrong Powerhouse for their assistance in allowing us to modify the Wherry Lines route.

And still there's more! We have begun planning out the scenarios for the route, and they shall tell a story in an interesting and potentially unique way. More details of these will appear in the future.

All that's left to say really is that we hope you take a look at the pictures below that demonstrate progress thus far!

Paris Orleans Railway No.5452 in period livery - Image Courtesy of Pierre Gauriat

Period Wagons - Image Courtesy of Pierre Gauriat

Belgian 'GC' Coaches - Image Courtesy of Pierre Gauriat

Quasi-T1, The new NER T2 reskin - Image Courtesy of Victory Works

Tracklaying commences at Hazebrouck - Image Courtesy of Street Level Models

Tracklaying commences at Hazebrouck - Image Courtesy of Street Level Models

Tracklaying commences at Hazebrouck - Image Courtesy of Street Level Models

Update - Monday 28th January 2019

With only six months left until our self-imposed release date, to coincide with the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, it has been decided to put the prototypical Hazebrouck-based project on the back-burner for now as it requires a great deal more research than we anticipated.

 

Instead, attentions have turned to creating a fictional route representing the operations of the ROD and potentially also the WDLR. This route will use the Armstrong Powerhouse 'Wherry Llnes' route to provide basic geography and intial track layout, but it will be re-worked to represent ROD-Operated lines in Northern France and Belgium. Whether this route is to be publicly released will depend on permission being granted by Armstrong Powerhouse. Needless to say it will still require the payware edition of the Wherry Lines route in order to run.

Arque - Hazebrouck - Poperinge - Ypres

The Railway Operating Division (A commemorative route project for Train Simulator 2019) aims to recreate a section of French and Belgian Railway as it would have been, or as close as possible to how it would have been, in 1918. The section chosen is between Arque, Hazebrouck, Poperinge and Ypres, with branches. It is intended to release the route in three phase, with phase 1 being Arque to Hazebrouck, phase 2 being Hazebrouck to Poperinge and phase 3 being the remainder of the lines to Ypres and the trenches. It is intended to possibly include the WDLR Narrow Gauge lines too. It is hoped to release phase 1 of the route on June 28th 2019, the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that brought the Great War to its official end. It is then planned to work on phases 2 and 3. In addition to the route, a range of appropriate reskins and possibly even assets are to be created for the route.