Written by: Gary Dolzall
Dovetail Games’ TS Rewards program this month features military equipment – and Gary Dolzall of Elphaba’s Workshop puts it to work on Sherman Hill
The first rapid growth spurt of American railroad-building occurred in the 1850s, when railroad mileage in the U. S. grew from approximately 9,000 route miles at the start of the decade to more than 30,000 route miles by 1860, with rails stretching from the Atlantic shores to the Mississippi River. And thus it was – with the coming of the American Civil War, which began on April 12, 1861 – that the railroads would prove themselves strategically invaluable for the military movement of men and materiel across the great expanses of the nation. And so it has been ever since, whether during World War I, World War II, or today.
Dovetail Games’ latest TS Rewards release brings the heritage of military haulage to life, in contemporary terms, with flatcars carrying a variety of modern military hardware, including personnel carriers and armor. Also included in the TS Rewards package is an authentic career scenario that Elphaba’s Workshop had the privilege of creating, and that puts the TS Rewards military pack to work on Train Simulator’s popular Union Pacific Sherman Hill route.
Across the U. S., the military often employs dedicated movements to convoy equipment from one base to another or in preparation for transport outside the country. The individual railroads treat these movements somewhat differently, but in most cases, the trains are operated as specials and/or as extras. In the case of the career scenario for the Rewards pack, we decided to represent a heavy military special moving east over Union Pacific’s Laramie Subdivision and famed Sherman Hill. Typical of the manner in which Union Pacific designates its trains, the military train in the scenario is “S-RVKCX.” The “S” signifies the train is a special (as does the “X” at the end, indicating it is an extra movement). And the “RVKC” in the middle of the designation indicates it is a movement from Roseville, California (“RV”) to Kansas City (“KC”). As such, the train will be crossing Sherman Hill eastbound from Laramie, then taking the “Borie Cutoff” to reach UP’s Denver line for eventual forwarding on to Kansas City. For motive power, we selected a duo of UP’s potent Electro-Motive SD70Ms and, in fact, the Union Pacific often assigns SD70-family locomotives to military trains moving over its route system.
As the scenario, entitled “Union Pacific Military Special East,” begins, the train has been temporarily yarded at Laramie, but is ready to make its climb up and over Sherman Hill (which is named, by the way, in honor of the legendary Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman). The career scenario run of S-RVKCX extends all the way from Laramie to the east end of the Borie Cutoff, and thus involves both a climb of Sherman Hill’s west slope and a careful descent of the route’s steep (1.5 percent gradient) east slope. As is virtually always the case, the Sherman Hill route is humming with other UP tonnage, and that traffic includes another eastbound train that S-RVKCX will be following over much of its journey, requiring the engineer to keep a keen eye out for restricting signals and possible brief delays.
The included career scenario is, no doubt, just the beginning of the enjoyment and challenges that the TS Rewards military pack will offer users of Train Simulator. The pack is, in fact, wonderfully suited for use on virtually any of Train Simulator’s North American routes, and most assuredly will prove to be popular with Steam Workshop creators in the future. – Gary Dolzall