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Paddington To Oxford Pack - Freight


  • Paddington To Oxford Pack - Freight

    Review: Paddington To Oxford Scenario Pack (Freight)

    By Thomas Pallen
    19 November 2008

    Armstrong Powerhouse recently
    released its first package of freight scenarios. Like their two
    previous packs (Variety and Intercity/NSE Era), these scenarios run
    on Rail Simulator's Paddington to Oxford route. However, this one
    requires the Newcastle to York route, as well as RSDL's UK Wagons
    Pack 01 and Class 66 add-on, plus the MK2 Upgrade Patch.

    The package includes 6 freight scenarios for the Paddington-Oxford
    route and the Freightliner Class 66 diesel locomotive in 3 liveries. A free
    "extra stock" file that must also be installed is available on the order
    page. This is an EXE installer file, so figuring out what stock it contains
    is practically impossible.

    The scenarios fall into two basic types: yard switching combined
    with a longish run (2 scenarios) or long haul from one yard to another.
    Without giving too much away, here's a summary of the scenarios:

    AP3 6V91 Earles Sidings - Theale: Not much going on here; just a
    longish haul from one yard to another. There is a lot of AI traffic
    at the beginning of the scenario that makes the first part of the
    trip a bit challenging and interesting. This is a good tutorial in a
    sense for handling the Class 66 engine.

    AP3 5C37 Old Oak Common - Barton Hill: Another straight-forward,
    long-distance ride down the tracks. For much of the distance, the player
    train is trailing an AI train, so yellow and red signals alternate with
    greens. Listen for the AWS, which can be heard even from outside-the-cab
    views in these scenarios. I never realized before that a lowering of the
    speed limit is often accompanied by an AWS squawk which, if ignored, results
    in enforced braking to 0 mph.

    AP3 7B05 Hinkelsey Yard - Cholsey: This very fine scenario begins
    with some nicely complex switching to make-up the player train. The
    presence of brakemen in the yard to "guide" the engineer to the correct
    tracks is a good touch. Unfortunately, RS doesn't allow one brakeman to move
    around the yard (be careful you don't hit any of these fellows). The
    Freightliner Class 66 engine has stepped acceleration, making coupling a bit
    tricky (and thus more interesting). The last addition to the player train
    is another Class 66 that is called for in an instruction box, but there is
    no Consist Operations Instruction for this maneuver. Its purpose is to
    become the train's lead engine, and an instruction box tells the player to
    switch control to this added engine; it does not note that this requires two
    presses of the CTRL+= or CTRL+- key combination. This appealing
    switching is followed by a long drive to Cholsey, made interesting only by
    the need to maintain a 60 mph speed limit (required by an instruction box,
    not by the HUD, and therefore not actually enforceable). A couple of yellow
    and red signals may occur and ignoring them will lead to imposed emergency
    stops by the AWS signaling system. Once at Cholsey, the player train is
    ordered to move on to Goring & Streatly; here there are workmen stationed
    along the way, one of whom just may be relieving himself over a bridge
    embankment. Remarkably little AI traffic here in comparison with other of
    this pack's scenarios.

    AP3 6O12 Carlisle Yard - Eastleigh Yard: After a brief run from
    Carlisle through Oxford to Hinksey yard, some quite interesting and complex
    switching takes place (without brakemen, this time). There's lots of AI
    traffic, but you'll miss some of it as you study the 2D map and set
    switches. Follow the instructions carefully. The scenario concludes with a
    long run to the Eastleigh yard. Departing Hinksey yard for that long run,
    be careful which track you select: one of the two possibilities results in
    an eternal red light.

    AP3 6M68 Hayes - Stud Farm: Some interesting action begins this
    scenario, followed by a long run. Not far from the final destination it
    becomes necessary to save the scenario, exit, and reload it. Mr. Armstrong
    informed me that this was due to a signalling difficulty.

    AP3 6Z09 Slough Engineers - Acton: Another yard-to-yard run.
    Several of these scenarios were interrupted by game-ending AI
    crashes. In every case, restarting the scenario or even continuing it
    removed the crash, although in one instance continuing a scenario that had
    not been ended by an AI crash led to one! Since these crashes, which I have
    encountered in other commercial packages that include a good deal of AI
    traffic, seem to occur randomly, they are obviously the fault not of the
    scenarios' programmer, but of a flaw in Rail Simulator's signalling and
    pathing system.

    Summary: this package provides a lot of value for its £4.99
    cost (about $7.50 U.S. at current exchange rates), especially for
    those who already own the UK Wagons Pack 01 and the Class 66 add-on.
    The scenarios offer good play with plenty of AI traffic and the
    Freightliner 66 engines are a good addition to the stock available
    for Rail Simulator.

    Thomas A. Pallen

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