Written by: TrainSim-James
We are very pleased to be able to introduce a new developer to Steam, and the first of their many upcoming Marketplace coach packs. We spoke with Gordon Mackenzie, owner of MatrixTrains, about his company and what is in store for Marketplace.
Welcome, Gordon! Please tell us a little about yourself and about MatrixTrains.
My interest in railways started very young, as my father always had a model railway, even in the early 1950’s. I was only ever a train spotter for a short time in the mid 60’s when I managed to save for an ABC spotters book. I lost interest in real railways when the green diesels started to take over most of the duties from steam. It was then that model railways took over from the real thing. That tailed off somewhat in the 1970’s when my musical interests took precedence. I still am involved in the acoustic guitar music scene now, although strictly as an amateur. I was fascinated by the early home computers such as the Sinclair ZX81, Spectrum and Commodore 64. When the Brighton Belle simulation was released I was hooked.
Your first packs for Marketplace are coach packs focusing on the post-war to 1970s era: what is it about railways in this period that particularly interests you as an enthusiast and as a developer?
Being a “baby boomer”, although a late one, railways and train spotting were the hobbies of most of my friends. We were all fascinated by the steam behemoths that ran near our home near Liverpool. Just the sheer diversity of loco’s and stock that ran on the WCML and its connecting railways was a magnetic draw. Watching was the order of the day, as only very few of us could afford the spotting books. Apart from the locos I always loved the odd assortment of coaches you would find on any train apart from expresses.
How long have you been developing for Train Simulator? What is your history with TS and with software generally?
When MS Train Simulator was released I tried my hand at route building. If I had known how much time this consumed I would have never contemplated it :). The first result of my efforts was the Bala Hub V1 from Ruabon to Barmouth, followed by extensions to Blaenau Festiniog and Denbigh. After that came the Irish Enterprise route. When Railsimulator/Railworks was released, I decided to put my engineering CAD experience to use in building rolling stock for the sim. Mainly coaches as I found the preponderance of Mk1 stock on every train in a 1950’s scenario very frustrating and unprototypical. After some initial freeware stock I decided to set up MatrixTrains to offset the cost of research into coaching stock, which can be substantial.
Many Train Simulator add-ons have traditionally relied on the bread-and-butter BR Mk1 coach to provide passenger rolling stock. The users will surely be very pleased to have a wider and more diverse choice: what would you say makes your coach packs especially useful and appealing?
In the 1950’s and to a lesser extent in the 60’s, Mk1 coaching stock was confined to premier services, lesser services made use of the “Big Four” and even earlier stock. This provided an interesting and diverse spectacle to enthusiasts, as you never were sure what loco or coach stock would be on any given working. I always remember the lively lineside discussions as to what type of coaches just past, not that most of us had a clue.
What types of packs can we look forward to from MatrixTrains in the coming months?
Well all the MatrixTrains stock packs will be updated to current standards. But first a new Blue Grey era set, as well as some new Thompson Corridors in three liveries. Followed by GWR large window Colletts and LMS P3’s including all the extras I made. An enlarged LNER Gresley set including BG’s and sleepers, and the articulated dining set, the BR built LMS pattern Porthole set, GWR Hawksworths and 57ft Toplights, a large set of Bullied 63.5 ft including the Tavern set, LNER Thompson Suburbans and GCR Barnums. Currently in development is a set of GWR High Waisted Collet coaches. Just about all packs will be in three liveries or more.
Many thanks to Gordon for speaking to us. Please keep an eye on Marketplace for upcoming MatrixTrains releases.
See below a showcase of the various MatrixTrains packs that are already available on the Marketplace ■