Written by: fringestalin
Well looking at the images, this route scores for an incredible amount of detail. I know I said this about WCML North, but when you look at this route it’s taking it to the next level with what is presumably solar wind turbines next to signals for power, and things more noticeable like tunnel signs (Shugborough Tunnel 777 yards being the most obvious). For me there is no preferred way of travel, you could go in the Up or Down direction, and you’ll still have a good time looking at the amazing scenery on this route such as canals and trees and even small towns. I’ve never been so pleased to see Rugeley Power Station in my life.
Another thing with this route is that it includes the Daventry International Railfreight Terminal (DIRFT) just south of Rugby in case you might be more of a freight fan. DIRFT itself adds more scenario potential, and there is also freight yards at Stafford and Rugeley too so you actually have somewhere to go. Another great thing is the trains included with this route. The Class 66 in a new and fully licensed Direct Rail Services (DRS) livery, and a brand new Class 350 “Desiro” being neutral section activated in an unbranded livery, though clearly based off London Midland. The Class 66 isn’t much different to other trains, but the 350 has so many cab views that you can even open driver doors and head into passenger view itself. With automated announcements based on your location, the 350 pioneers a new feature for Train Simulator of on-board announcements.
Unlike the other two official WCML routes, this one was built with custom assets from 3D Studio Max, being built primarily by Thomson and that, and this means that not only are stations more accurate and authentic to their real-life counterparts, but Thomson’s grand skills of modelling meant that the overhead catenary could be accurately recreated with new detailed wires and gantries. According to Thomson, there are over 200 new unique catenary types on this route. One final thing is that the station departure boards in scenarios now reflect the player’s train. If you’re a service to Crewe, the departure board will say so, and even includes your stations along the way. Sometimes they’ll say the typical stand well back message for a fast train not stopping at the station.
The route isn’t even afraid to advertise previous Krossrails and Thomson products…
I don’t like to bash such a new route that I only got recently, but this route does have a few minor problems. Before I address them I would like to clarify that I will NOT list Thomson’s legal agreement of this route not allowing third party enhancements without being free because they are well within their rights to do so. Now that’s out of the way let’s get started.
Well the route only has eight stations and is significantly shorter than the 102-mile (164km) and 90-mile (145km) WCML North and Over Shap respectively, and while including more stations at a fair distance from each other, it won’t take long to traverse this route on the fast lines, and maybe not so much longer on the slow lines. Now this is just a nitpick, but in my opinion it could’ve been extended to Crewe to add the route mileage, and that would mean Preston-Crewe could include the Liverpool branch, but that’s just my opinion, as there are no stops on the main route between Stafford and Crewe, with four being available on a small branch from Stone to Alsager via Stoke-on-Trent and Kidsgrove.
Even if you take the length of the route being the nature of the real-life route and not the fault of Thomson, I still have an issue with this route. When I decided to stretch the Class 390s legs on this route, I found that as I was approaching Colwich Junction that I was being diverted onto the slow lines. This isn’t the usual operation for express trains, and normally only for London Midland, which is fine given the Class 350 is the only passenger train for this route, and freight normally has a low enough priority to go on the slow lines which applies to the DRS Class 66 too, Quick Drive normally allows any train on the route, and so the option for a fast line options should’ve been included in my opinion, but the workshop has much better scenarios anyway, so it’s no big deal.
Well, when you take out the length and stations not really being the fault of Thomson as a con and as just the nature of the route and it’s limited Quick Drive, I really don’t see anything wrong with this product. While it did feel strange buying it at full price, it was worth every penny if you ask me. Thomson and Krossrails have now proven twice that they make top quality products, and from now on I hope they will produce the rest of the WCML themselves. I would hope to see Rugby-London Euston next or even extended to Birmingham New Street (which we all know I and many others want very much) but they’ve shown me that any WCML route will be done to the best of their abilities.
Like any route, it’s much better with other add-ons for realism, but in this case it’s actually only two necessary add-ons, being Class 390 and 220/221. WCML Trent Valley from Thomson Interactive gets a whopping 4.8 out of 5 Stars from Fringe Stalin. Thanks for reading…