• TGV Train Sim Pack


    By Robert Jubb (17 May 2002)

    The first high-speed rail travel begin in Japan with the original Bullet train. From there, train travel between major cities could begin to compete with short haul air travel.

    SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer francais) was the first European rail network to bring high speed rail travel to the masses of France. It began in the early 1980's with the TGV Sud-Est, the first high speed railway line in France, running from the Gare de Lyon, one of the main terminals for journeys from Paris to all points south, and beyond.

    The line made only one stop at Macon on its journey to Lyon, with a purpose-built station. This is a layout that Just Trains have attempted to recreate at Tourneham-Sur-La-Ham and Hazebrouck stations.

    The success of this very unique form of transport was very quickly expanded, and now in the 21st century, France has extended these fast, comfortable trains to run from all corners of the country. Germany was not that far behind and today boasts a smaller network of routes running from Munich to Hamburg and Koln to Berlin.

    The building of the controversial "Channel Tunnel" opened up the possibilities of Great Britain joining the ever-expanding cosmopolitan Europe. Out of the same stable of TGV Sud-Est, TGV Atlantic and the truly European Thalys came the Eurostar. A smaller HST in every way, its longest journey is to Paris and Brussels from London's Waterloo Station. Its physical size was set to meet the load gauge in Great Britain, due to the fact that British Railways made little or no plans to build even the smallest section for these unique trains. Happily, the first high speed line is now being constructed from the International Rail Terminal at Ashford to London, and should be completed by 2003.

    The package itself includes 500 miles of railway between Ashford, Kent, England and Lille, France. As well as being able to commute along the main railway lines, there are numerous side routes and branch lines awaiting exploration. The three locomotives included are the SNCF TGV Atlantique-Reus, Thylas TGV Atlantique, and the SNCF BB7200 with Corail carriages.

    The imaginatively designed box, designed by Fink Creative, shows the product in all its glory with no less than 11 screen shots on the rear of the box. The text on the rear also talks of Just Train's legendary 'one-stop' install... which we come on to next.

    The manual is 19 pages long, greyscale pages with a glossy cover. Despite its small size, it does contain useful information on the installation procedure, information about the included locomotives, as well as diagrams outlining the cab of each locomotive.

    The installation procedure of this product is, as always these days, very simple and straight-forward. Once the CD is inserted, the installer auto-runs and installs itself into Train Simulator.

    As you can see from the screen shots, the train models are well designed and are fully featured, with functioning headlights and pantographs, as well as rolling wheels. It must be noted at this point that the pantographs are set to the European height of 5.9m, and using these locomotives in the United States will result in the pantographs and electrical wiring not meeting correctly. The stations, especially Ashford and Lille, are depicted beautifully, with the correct platforms, outbuildings and even seats rendered perfectly. The smaller stations in both the United Kingdom and France have their own custom-designed buildings, making each and every station recognizable in its own way.

    There are, in total, 10 activities included with the package. These imaginatively designed examples offer a variety of challenges for all train simulator enthusiasts, all of which are between 30 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes in length. The activities range from domestic services in both the United Kingdom and France to long distance cross-channel services in varying weather conditions as well as time of day.

    This product provides excellent scope for creating new activities within Train Simulator based around these stations. A notable example would be to create an activity doing some shunting in the sidings at Calais. What we feel has been missed out is the EuroTunnel terminals, trains and rolling stock at both ends of the Channel Tunnel. Countless holiday makers and businessmen alike in both the United Kingdom and France alike have traversed the Channel Tunnel via EuroTunnel, and this would make an excellent addition to this product.

    Having such an amount of power available to you, the natural reaction is to go quickly, but we did however find that these locomotives and rolling stock are very easy to derail, and find this a notable improvement over the default derailments. As ever in Train Simulator, the derailments are very impressive, but the correct care and attention will put a halt to any mishaps.

    In conclusion, we think that this product is very worthwhile. The GBP 24.99 / US $36.99 price tag may seem a bit steep to some, but all who use this expansion will find it very addictive, and will have endless fun crossing between the two countries. We give this product 87 out of a possible 100, with the downfalls being the lack of the EuroTunnel terminals, and the great ease of which the user can derail the train. All in all, great product!

    Robert Jubb
    [email protected]

    Visit designer EuropeanBahn.

    Visit publisher Just Trains

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