Written by: Gary Dolzall
The upcoming Baltimore & Ohio Kingwood Branch route will put your skills as a railroad engineer to the full test!
Just how good of a locomotive engineer are you? You’ll find out on the upcoming and remarkable 1960s-era Baltimore & Ohio Kingwood Branch route for Train Simulator!
Classic Appalachian branch line coal railroading was a tough business. It was about unforgiving grades, often of 3- and 4-percent; of tight, twisting steel paths up rocky slopes and into remote hollows; it was of switchbacks and lugging heavy hopper trains laden with tons of bituminous coal. Simply put, the railroad “hogger” who was not skilled with throttle, air brakes, and dynamic brakes quickly found himself looking for another career.
From VNHRR, the talented team that created the acclaimed Virtual New Haven Springfield Line, the upcoming B&O Kingwood Branch is set in West Virginia’s rugged and remote Appalachian coal country – and this new Train Simulator route is guaranteed to test your talents as a locomotive engineer and deliver captivating and authentic 1960s-era railroading experiences.
Based upon the West Virginia Northern Railroad, a short line coal hauler once located in northeastern West Virginia, this upcoming Train Simulator route is semi-fictional in that it re-creates the railroad as an early 1960s-era Baltimore & Ohio branch line. The route includes a 10-mile roller-coaster, saw-tooth-profiled main trunk extending between an interchange with the Baltimore & Ohio main line at Tunnelton and the Kingwood Branch’s namesake town, a steep and twisting 7-mile branch to a large coal seam at Birds Creek, two additional short branch lines, and numerous spurs serving a total of 14 coal mines and loading facilities.
Accompanying the route will be a superb selection of 13 realistic career scenarios which will put you to work at the throttle of the route’s classic Baltimore & Ohio Electro-Motive GP9 diesels – and put your skills as a hogger right to the test! You’ll tote empties to the mines, you’ll perform switching tasks, and return with loads of “black diamonds.” And while coal-haul railroading is at the heart of B&O Kingwood Branch operations, you’ll also work local freights and even take the throttle of branch line “flag stop” passenger trains (governed by working flag stop and train order signals). To guide you, the route includes a highly detailed and informative manual providing operating information and advice, operating rules, maps, and timetables.
Along with its authentic operating challenges, another highlight of this upcoming route is its variety and range of included equipment. The route’s EMD GP9 is provided in both original Baltimore & Ohio livery and B&O’s 1960s-era “Capitol” scheme. A traditional heavyweight 65-foot coach in B&O blue and gray livery is provided for passenger service, and the route’s extensive selection of freight equipment includes B&O class I-5, I-5D, and I-12 cabooses; 36-, 40-, and 50-foot boxcars in multiple liveries (including B&O, Chesapeake & Ohio, and Western Maryland); a B&O flatcar; B&O 52- and 65-foot gondolas; 55-ton and 70-ton coal hoppers in multiple variations and railroad liveries; a 1950s/60s-era tank car, B&O Airslide covered hopper; and wood- and steel refrigerator cars.
Traditional, tough – and captivating – 1960s Appalachian railroading is soon coming to Train Simulator with the B&O Kingwood Branch route. Will you be up to the challenge? – Gary Dolzall ■