Written by: TrainSim-James
Third party developers Railright will shortly be making their Steam debut with 40145, a faithful recreation of the preserved Class 40. Today we meet Alex Riley of Railright and find out more about this highly detailed powerhouse.
Welcome, Alex! Tell us a little about yourself and about Railright, a new developer to Train Simulator on Steam. How long have you been developing add-ons?
Hello and thank you! Well I’m 23 and live in the Manchester area of the UK and I’m primarily a 3D artist. I’ve always had an interest in railways and particularly classic British diesel locomotives, although, up until recently it’s been more of a hobby than than anything else. Railright sprung about when I decided to give Train Simulator add-on development my full attention and time after leaving college. I’ve actually developed add-ons part time since 2006 although these were all add-ons for the older simulator MSTS and were much less time consuming meaning I could keep up with school work while working on them in spare time.
What sort of Train Simulator projects have you been involved with before now?
Way back when, I was part of the Class 15 Preservation Society MSTS development team, the goal of which was raising funds for the ongoing restoration of the sole surviving Class 15 locomotive. I worked mainly on the textures although I also created the sound sets for most of the add-on packs. As part of the team I worked on the North Wales Coast route as well as a number of locomotive packs.
More recently with Railright, my first project for TS2016 was the BR Class 40 Pack available from Armstrong Powerhouse. This pack contains all original 200 locomotives based on there individual appearance and specification from 1958 to 1984 in both early BR green and the later BR blue liveries. With scripting from Waggonz, and Sounds from Armstrong Powerhouse, the aim was to create a solid detailed representation of the original Class 40s in BR service.
Your Steam debut is the wonderful Class 40 in preserved 40145 guise. What led you to recreate the Class 40?
The Class 40 for me has always been a favourite so that’s really why It had to be my first TS project. Growing up in the Manchester area meant that I always heard stories of when ‘Whistlers’, as they are affectionately known, roamed the network. Thanks to preservation groups such as the Class 40 Preservation Society, people of my generation can experience and enjoy locomotives such as Class 40s that otherwise would have only been memories to some.
40145, owned by the CFPS, is one of 7 Class 40 locomotives left in one piece following British Railways scrapping of the class in the 1980s. It is also the only member of the class certified to run on the mainline today hauling railtours and performing other duties on a regular basis. This puts 40145 in a unique position when looking at the other 40s, being a ‘classic’ locomotive but one that can still be found running alongside the most modern traction on today’s metals. This makes 40145 a very interesting locomotive to create for Train Simulator. With its custom cab layout and high intensity headlights being essential to mainline certification, an obvious visual difference inside and out is present when compared to the original members of the Class.
40145 appears in the odd-looking BR Large Logo livery as well as the more conventional BR Blue in this add-on, why did you provide the Large Logo Livery?
40145 is actually the only Class 40 to have worn this livery. In the early 1990s, the CFPS ‘mocked’ up 40145 as a fictional Class 40/4 (40445) and was painted in BR large logo blue, essentially a wink at the Class 37/4s that were introduced in 1985 in this livery. 40145 was repainted into BR Blue shortly after. The idea was to see what could have been if the whistlers had stayed in service for a few more years. Some years later however in 2007, 40145 was again repainted in Large Logo and performed many railtours in this livery. Loved or loathed, it definitely made a truly unique sight out and about on the mainline.
What particular challenges did you have to overcome in recreating this loco?
When creating the scripts and physics for the Class 40, we wanted to create the most authentic performing diesel locomotive in TS. This was no easy task in the end as much time was spent seeking out original technical data for the Class 40 which was hard to come by considering the Class was withdrawn from regular traffic in 1985. Luckily I was able to gather enough information from numerous sources and friends to provide us with enough information to create an accurate representation of the Class 40s inner workings.
What aspects of the loco are you especially pleased with? What details do you personally hope users will discover and enjoy?
I personally love the sounds created by Armstrong Powerhouse and I hope the users will too. Moving the throttle from 0% – 100% in external view is simply addictive if you like the racket these old engines make. The sounds were tailored to fit precisely with the advanced scripting from Waggonz and as a result very nicely represent the full range of sound the real locomotive produces truly bringing the whistle to the whistler!
With both HUD and Advanced versions, 40145 is not a simple beast. How deep does the simulation go with this one?
Top quality simulation of the Class 40 was one of the main targets during development. With that in mind we now have one of the most advanced locomotives for TS to share with you. The driving physics have been painstakingly crafted to match acceleration, deceleration and field divert data taken from a real Class 40 locomotive. From the small things like the way air builds after firing up to traction motor isolation and simulated flash overs, a great deal of care has been put into the scripting to ensure an entertaining but authentic experience can be had all round.
With all the advanced talk said and done though, we do also want to provide an option for those not looking to go mad with all the advanced features, so users can still jump in the HUD version of 40145 and enjoy a more straightforward approach to driving.
What was the one of the more difficult features to recreate for Train Simulator?
I’d say that the dual brake control found on most BR diesel locomotives was a hard one to get ‘right’. The brake consists of a single Train Brake master control that can supply both vacuum and air braking depending on what coaching stock or wagons are coupled to the locomotive. The selection method for the active brake mode is found in the engine room (options screen on 40145). The end result is a fully operating vacuum and air brake system that can be changed on the fly and will supply a train brake application to the entire train with matching brake types and supplies brake force to only the locomotive for non matching brake types.
So, what’s next in the pipeline? How long will we have to wait to get our hands on another Railright loco?
There are quite a few plans in place for Railright that will be taking shape in the not too distant future, I currently have another brand new project nearing the end of the modelling phase so be sure to check the Railright facebook page in the coming months for info on this one!
Thanks to Alex for joining us for this interview. For more news on 40145, keep watching Engine Driver!