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East Coast Express Part 1 London to Peterborough


  • East Coast Express Part 1 London to Peterborough

    East Coast Magic

    By Jane-Rachel Whittaker (2 March 2006)

    It was with distinct mixed feelings that I installed "East Coast
    Express Part 1 London to Peterborough". This product, published by
    First Class Simulations and developed by EuropeanBahn has been
    eagerly awaited by many MSTS fans. The East Coast Main Line of the UK
    is close to the hearts of most rail enthusiasts in Britain, being
    steeped in history. For myself the association with the East Coast
    Main Line is doubly poignant having spent a large portion of my life
    making the daily commute from London Kings Cross to Peterborough on
    the very tracks that have been modelled in addition to being an
    enthusiast with little hope of treatment or redemption. I was torn by
    the thrill of having this route that has shared a large portion of my
    life being realised in MSTS that was also tempered with an anxiety
    over a route with such personal significance as to whether the
    simulation would live up to the sentiment.



    There was nothing for it but to jump in the cab of a Class 43 high
    speed train at London Kings Cross and make my way north to
    Peterborough. The Class 43 more commonly known as an "Intercity 125"
    has been plying its trade along the East Coast Main Line from London
    to Edinburgh since the late 1970s. I had the dual fortune of both
    visiting Crewe Locomotive Works in Cheshire to see these locomotives
    on the production line in the year of their introduction and also the
    great privilege to be a passenger on the first Intercity 125 service
    from Edinburgh to London traversing this very same route into London.
    I admit to always being disappointed in previous representations of
    this iconic locomotive in MSTS, which have always seemed boxy and
    poorly represented. With limited expectations I was entirely bowled
    over by the quality of the modelling and had to immediately
    reappraise my views of the Intercity 125 within MSTS. The modelling
    within the package is simply staggering and is close to perfection
    both in the physical modelling and the texturing of power cars and
    coaching stock to the point where I often had to give myself a
    reality check that I was not looking at a video. I was starting to
    get excited like a child on a birthday and I had not left London
    Kings Cross.



    The cab too is an excellent representation of the real powercar and
    having ridden in the cab many times out of Kings Cross it was with a
    sense of deja vu and growing anticipation that I gently eased the
    train away from the station into Gas Works Tunnel and accelerated
    through Alexandra Palace and northbound towards Peterborough. In many
    route expansions for MSTS I had been disappointed to see generic
    stations and trackside scenery as a poor substitute for their
    real-life equivalents. This simulation bucks that trend as many
    familiar landmarks and stations stretched out before me. Accelerating
    past the now disused engine sheds at Finsbury Park, where I had
    mis-spent a large portion of my youth in what was then a thriving
    locomotive depot and passing by Bounds Green depot, home to this high
    speed train, everything was there in exact detail. All the small
    commuter stations and larger mainline stations on the route have been
    built with accurate architecture to the smallest detail such as
    placement of overhead footbridges.

    As I sped north I was able to reflect on the historical significance
    of this route that had been the jewel in the crown of the London And
    North Eastern Railway (LNER) in the heyday of steam. The LNER "Flying
    Scotsman" included as a default locomotive within MSTS actually
    operated this route in service and was one of a fleet of "A4
    Pacifics", designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, that operated the Flying
    Scotsman service from London to Edinburgh. With the release of this
    route I am finally able to place this magnificent locomotive on the
    tracks that it calls home. These tracks were also home to a Gresley
    stable-mate, the "Mallard" which broke the world speed record on the
    East Coast Main Line achieving 126MPH, in what still stands today as
    the fastest recorded speed ever for steam traction anywhere in the



    As steam gave way to the relentless march of progress and was
    superseded in the 1960s by diesel the East Coast Main Line played
    host to the illustrious Class 55 Deltic locomotives which were tasked
    to haul the crack expresses. The Deltics themselves are the stuff of
    legend and are often regarded as the most popular diesel locomotive
    in the world even though only 22 were ever built and entered service.
    Such is their popularity that the prototype has a place of honour in
    the Science Museum in London and another example of the class is
    displayed proudly at the National Railway Museum in York. Their
    popularity certainly seems to have stretched to MSTS judging by their
    frequent appearance in expansion packs and file libraries and akin to
    the Flying Scotsman these locomotives can now take their rightful
    place on the East Coast Main Line. In the early 1980s these
    locomotives were themselves replaced by the Intercity 125 equipment
    featured in this package.



    A massive refurbishment program in the 1980s led to the
    electrification of the line and I have vivid memories of watching the
    cable spun mile by mile steadily southward and standing on the
    platform at Kings Cross to watch the first electric service arrive
    from Peterborough. Rapidly after electrification the diesel multiple
    units were replaced by electric multiple units and the Class 317 EMU
    synonymous with commuter services on this route has been thoughtfully
    included in the package, along with a generous selection of
    activities. Perhaps, however, most purchasers will be most tempted by
    the Intercity 125 and the newer electric Class 225 that has been
    included in this expansion, along with a raft of high speed and
    challenging activities to support their inclusion. Intercity liveries
    for both 125 and 225 sets are included along with liveries reflecting
    GNER, the Great North Eastern Railway who recently took over this
    route and rolling stock in the re-privatisation of the line. The
    developers point out in their manual that they had the assistance of
    GNER in producing these locomotives and it certainly shows!

    As I mused on reminiscences of the route North London quickly faded
    into the faceless suburbia of the satellite towns that evolved in
    post-war building programs. Passing through Welwyn Garden City
    station reminded me that these towns were often referred to as
    "garden cities" to evoke imagery of greenery to entice relocations
    out of London and its smog. I mentally crosschecked the layout and
    style of each station and its surroundings as the high speed train
    sped inexorably north and again was unable to find fault with the
    design work of this product from track layout, to lineside points of
    interest to architecture this was the East Coast Main Line that had
    been indelibly etched into my memory. My fears in relation to realism
    evaporated with the morning mist as the locomotive left London behind
    and headed through Stevenage and Huntingdon into the county of
    Cambridgeshire and ever closer to Peterborough.



    As I brought the train under the distinctive corrugated footbridge
    and to a stop on the platform in Peterborough I realised I had ridden
    the footplate on a journey of discovery through over 80 miles of the
    best that MSTS has to offer at the hands of a skilled developer. I
    eagerly await my return journey to London at the controls of a
    similarly impressively realised Class 225 rake with plans to try out
    one of the snowbound activities. Later this year will herald the
    arrival of Volume 2 of this East Coast Express set that I hope will
    bring the railway heaven of York and Doncaster to MSTS. I hope that
    no-one minds that I have pushed to the front of the queue to buy my
    ticket for that forthcoming journey! Until release I shall content
    myself with this package that leaves other MSTS expansions sat at the
    station. Platform 10 3/4 at Kings Cross is the departure point for
    Harry Potter and his friends as they board the Hogwarts Express which
    is quite fitting as this version of Kings Cross has brought a magical
    journey to my desktop.

    Publisher: First Class Simulations

    Developer: EuropeanBahn

    Requirements: Microsoft Train Simulator

    Price: £24.99

    Jane-Rachel Whittaker

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