DLC Review: The Holiday Express

Written by: nec_male_tc

Article written by Tom Carissimi. Screenshot taken by Tom Carissimi.

First Impressions

When the Holiday Express DLC was first announced in November of 2013 in an email from Dovetail Games (then Railsimulator.com), I thought this DLC was a very clever and original idea from the company since it was a break from the real world routes and it was announced in time for Christmas. As a “90s kid” who grew up running many postwar era O gauge Lionel trains that were made from the 1940s to the 1960s, the Holiday Express DLC [somewhat] reminds me of many Christmases from my childhood, although with a more eccentric spin that I wish were possible for me back then. I even liked how Dovetail Games decided to include classic American locomotives and cars that look at least vaguely familiar to the classic Lionel trains from the postwar era.

From the screenshots I saw of this DLC, I can tell that the developers at Dovetail Games really thought outside of the box on this by making this route look really complex that would make even the most serious model railroader think twice. Some of these complex structures include a helix track that climbs from the floor to a table as well as a section of track that goes over a piano and a section of track that goes into the attic.

What’s Included

  • A model train route set inside someone’s house possibly somewhere in the United States where it snows in the winter (like New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, but you can use your imagination of where you think it is).
  • “Richie Rails” Pennsylvania Railroad K4 steam locomotives.
  • “Richie Rails” EMD F7 diesel locomotives.
  • Red P70 coaches.
  • Black bulkhead flatcars with various loads including toy soldiers, cookies, a teddy bear and gifts.
  • Many new assets that have never been seen before on any route for Dovetail Games’ Train Simulator.

Pros, Advantages and Strengths

  • Very clever and original concept from Dovetail Games to have a model train route in someone’s house.
  • The fictional “Richie Rails” model train company is a parody of Lionel Trains, a famous American model train company.
  • The Holiday Express pack has a very nice old-time Christmas-time charm to it, yet still feels contemporary.
  • The piano plays music if you drive over it.
  • Christmas music is included that plays on the radio.
  • Fun for all ages.
  • Achievements are included.
  • The locomotives feature realistic sounds (pretty high-end model trains eh?).
  • Easy route to play if you want to level up on your XP points in the game with very easy, fair and quick career mode scenarios.
  • Very interesting environment to run around including landmarks such as a city made of cardboard boxes, a helix track up to the top of a table and of course, a loop around the Christmas tree.
  • You can run all or most other locomotives made for Train Simulator 2017 on this route from other DLC packs if you want to run non-fictional trains.
  • The Holiday Express is a standalone pack that doesn’t require Train Simulator 2017, but it will work as intended if you do have Train Simulator 2017.

Cons, Goofs and Nitpicks

  • The music that plays on the piano as you drive over it is a pre-recorded ditty that is not synchronized and does not correspond to the notes of a real piano. Also, sometimes the piano music won’t play as you drive over it.
  • There are no cab interior views on the locomotives, nor are there any people inside the coaches or locomotives.
  • There are no bell sounds for the locomotives.
  • The K4 is listed as a “third rail electric” and not a “steam locomotive” and also has more steam coming out of the safety valves and whistle than smoke from the smokestack.
  • The speed limit for the entire route is listed at 100 miles an hour, but you’ll derail on most curves if you exceed 40 miles an hour and the K4 is more prone to derailing than the F7.
  • There are no career mode scenarios for the K4, however, it is quick drive compatible with pre-made consists.
  • No cabooses are included in order to make a complete freight train, especially one from the 1950s.
  • There is no coal load in the K4’s tender.
  • Since this is a model train route, I’ve got to ask, where’s the transformer? I didn’t see one anywhere on it.

Bottom Line

Whether or not you have Train Simulator 2017, and regardless of your taste in railroading, this is one DLC you should definitely buy or put on your Christmas list. Even though I typically prefer prototypical railroading, I believe it’s a must-have for your collection. I would recommend the Holiday Express to anybody who wants a family-friendly game and DLC that’s Christmas-themed that has trains. The Holiday Express is not just family-friendly, it’s computer-friendly too. It ran fine on my Windows 7-equipped computer and it even ran well on my Windows XP-equipped computer.

The price is unbeatable, so even if you’re on the fence about buying it, my advice is that you should just get it, even if you only play it around Christmas time, you’ll love it. Or you can put it on your Holiday wish list and maybe someone special will get it for you, it makes a great stocking stuffer for your game and Train Simulator DLC collection on Steam.

Since you took the time to read this article, I attached a link to a scenario that I created for the Holiday Express, allowing you to have even more fun with this DLC. The cover screenshot for this article is actually a screenshot from my scenario for this DLC called “Holiday Express Run.” The only DLC required for this scenario is this DLC, the Holiday Express. You can download my scenario here


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