Train Sim World 3
Written by Gary Dolzall
Soon, Train Sim World 2 will bring one of America’s most legendary and dramatic railroad landmarks to life – with the Norfolk Southern Horseshoe Curve route!
Horseshoe Curve! In American railroading, there are few places that evoke more history and drama. Horseshoe Curve was J. Edgar Thompson’s engineering marvel and the signature achievement of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s 1850s crossing of the Allegheny Mountains. More than a century-and-a-half after its construction, the Horseshoe Curve route remains bustling and dramatic as a key Norfolk Southern rail artery – and soon, it’s coming to Train Sim World 2!
The upcoming Train Sim World 2 Horseshoe Curve route will re-create Norfolk Southern’s contemporary crossing of the rugged Alleghenies and deliver the opportunity to haul tonnage ranging from priority intermodals to ponderous coal behind high-horsepower NS diesels.
To climb the eastern slope of the Alleghenies, the Pennsylvania Railroad faced the daunting task of ascending nearly 1,000-feet in elevation between Altoona and Gallitzin, Pennsylvania. To do so required a torturous and twisting climb with a 1.85 percent ruling grade, and even that was achieved only through the building of 3,612-foot-long Allegheny Tunnel at the summit and the line’s masterstroke, the great horseshoe-shaped curve at Kittanning Point, which itself carries the line from an elevation of 1,473 feet on its east end to 1,706-feet on its west side.
As part of the Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh Division, Horseshoe Curve and the Allegheny crossing from Altoona on the east to Johnstown, Pennsylvania on the west was (and is) one of America’s busiest and most critical railroad arteries, home to a seemingly endless passage of tonnage and passenger trains, including PRR’s premiere Broadway Limited. And Horseshoe Curve itself was far from the route’s only classic and memorable location, which included the Gallitzin, Allegheny, and New Portage Tunnels, remote MG Tower, the steep eastbound “Slide,” key coal feeder lines at Cresson and South Fork, and the sprawling yards and Juniata shops at Altoona.
After more than an uninterrupted century of being one of the gemstones of the great Pennsylvania Railroad – known as “The Standard Railroad of the World” – the Horseshoe Curve route, during the latter half of the twentieth century, entered a time of tumultuous change. On February 1, 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad merged with its long-time rival, the New York Central, to form the Penn Central. Integration of the two sometimes bitter rivals proved problematic and, burdened with miles of duplicative and often unproductive trackage, the 20,000-mile Penn Central in 1970 entered a bankruptcy from which it would never reemerge. By the mid-1970s, under the auspices of the United States Railway Association, it was decided to roll Penn Central together with other troubled Northeastern railroads, thus forming Conrail.
Given its status as an amalgamation of not only bankrupt Penn Central but other equally troubled railroads, many observers held little hope for Conrail, but like a phoenix it rose from the ashes of Penn Central to become one of railroading’s greatest success stories. As part of the 12,000-mile Conrail system, the Horseshoe Curve route served as a vital rail link between the American east coast and Midwest and its infrastructure was modernized to contemporary requirements, including a reduction of the line around Horseshoe Curve from four to three tracks. Having admirably and remarkably served its purpose of rejuvenating eastern railroading, most of Conrail was divided in 1999 between eastern rail giants Norfolk Southern and CSX. Norfolk Southern acquired the lion’s share of Conrail (7,200 miles) including the Horseshoe Curve route, which now serves as a busy segment of Norfolk Southern’s Pittsburgh Line.
Today, the Horseshoe Curve route remains one of railroading’s greatest shows of big-time, tough, mountain railroading, constantly humming with traffic ranging from double-stack container trains to coal tonnage, manifest freights, grain, oil, and autos. And the line is also host to Amtrak’s New York-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.
As developed for Train Sim World 2 by Skyhook Games, the upcoming Horseshoe Curve route extends 40 route miles from the renowned railroad town of Altoona and its sprawling Juniata Shops to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, climbing over the daunting and scenic spine of the Allegheny Mountains and representing the railroad circa 2018. The route also features a portion of Norfolk Southern’s steep (with grades of up to 3 percent) and historic South Fork Secondary line extending 15 miles from South Fork to a coal mine near Windber, Pennsylvania.
The upcoming Train Sim World 2 Horseshoe Curve route will feature Norfolk Southern’s powerful third-generation workhorse, the six-axle, 4,400-horsepower General Electric ES44AC, as well as the versatile NS Electro-Motive GP38-2. To replicate the diverse traffic flow over the Horseshoe Curve route, a full range of modern freight equipment will be provided with the route. And with the upcoming Train Sim World Horseshoe Curve route, you’ll be ready to climb aboard and immediately take the throttle for challenging and realistic railroading with a selection of four training tutorials, five scenarios, and a variety of timetabled services.
In the coming days here at Dovetail Live, we’ll be taking a further look at the legendary Horseshoe Curve route, its locomotives, features, and operations, so stay tuned! – Gary Dolzall
Horseshoe Curve! In American railroading, there are few places that evoke so much history and drama. More than a century-and-a-half after its construction, the Horseshoe Curve route remains bustling and dramatic as a key Norfolk Southern rail artery – and soon, it’s coming to Train Sim World 2! With the ancient, worn rock face of famed Kittanning Point as a backdrop, a pair of Norfolk Southern General Electric ES44ACs tote coal gondolas upgrade around legendary Horseshoe Curve. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.
Developed for Train Sim World 2 by Skyhook Games, the upcoming Horseshoe Curve route extends 40 route miles from the renowned railroad town of Altoona and its sprawling Juniata Shops to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. At Altoona, a westbound manifest powered by a trio of Norfolk Southern GE ES44ACs pass the city’s modern passenger station. Note: Screenshots depict content while in development.
The upcoming Train Sim World 2 Horseshoe Curve route will deliver the opportunity to haul tonnage ranging from priority intermodals to ponderous coal behind contemporary NS diesels, including the General Electric 4,400-horsepower ES44AC and versatile EMD GP38-2. A pair of NS ES44ACs are standing at Altoona’s legendary Juniata Shops awaiting their next duties.
Aboard the Train Sim World 2 Norfolk Southern GE ES44AC, you’ll take the throttle of the modern 4,400-horsepower, six-axle diesel and work in a realistic cab with a full range of authentic and interactive controls.
With the city’s classic domed Cathedral and now-closed Alto Tower standing behind, a train of coal gondolas makes its westbound departure from Altoona. Ahead lies the tough climb of the Alleghenies with its twisting 1.85 percent ruling grade.
J. Edgar Thompson’s engineering marvel and the signature achievement of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s 1850s crossing of the Allegheny Mountains, Horseshoe Curve witnesses a long Norfolk Southern westbound wrap itself around the American railroading landmark.
Few, if any, railroad towers were more remote nor more famous than “MG” Tower on the east slope of the Allegheny climb. Positioned halfway between Altoona and the line’s summit at Gallitzin, “MG” stood for “Mid-Grade.” Dawn is just breaking as a duo of Norfolk Southern ES44ACs grind past the aged brick tower.
At the 2,167-foot-high summit of the Horseshoe Curve route (known today as Norfolk Southern’s Pittsburgh Line), NS GE ES44AC 8096 leads the way into the open air at Gallitzin after passing through 3,612-foot-long Allegheny Tunnel. The tunnel was enlarged in 1995 to accommodate the route’s now steady flow of double-stack intermodal trains.
Cresson, Pennsylvania, located three miles west of Gallitzin, has long been a key point on the Horseshoe Curve line and is today junction and interchange point with the ex-PRR branch lines now operated by R. J. Corman’s Pennsylvania Lines. On a quiet night at Cresson, a pair of veteran Norfolk Southern EMD GP38-2s stand on the wye track.
On the west slope of the Alleghenies, thirteen miles west of Cresson, stands historic South Fork, Pennsylvania, where the Norfolk Southern’s ex-PRR South Fork Secondary connects with the Pittsburgh Line. Included in the upcoming Train Sim World 2 Horseshoe Curve route is 15 miles of the South Fork Secondary which serves a busy coal mine and features tough grades of up to 3 percent. Leading a coal train off the South Fork Secondary, NS ES44ACs meet a GP38-2 at South Fork Yard.
Near South Fork along the Pittsburgh Line, a trio of Norfolk Southern ES44ACs are making the climb of the Allegheny west slope lugging an ethanol unit train. With the upcoming Train Sim World 2 Horseshoe Curve route, you’ll be ready to climb aboard and immediately take the throttle for challenging and realistic railroading with a selection of four training tutorials, five scenarios, and a variety of challenging timetabled services.
Johnstown’s history as a steel and industrial center is recalled as a Norfolk Southern eastbound train curls along the Conemaugh River. Legendary American and Allegheny Mountain railroading is coming soon to Train Simulator 2 – with the Horseshoe Curve route!
Train Sim World 3