Train Sim World 4

Hamburg – Lübeck - Creating Services

Today we are joined again by Joe Burgess who is part of the gameplay team and is an Assistant Technical Designer here at Dovetail.

What have you been responsible for in the creation of Hamburg – Lübeck?

I have been responsible for the timetable service mode that everyone usually enjoys and I have also been assisting the team as a whole.
Service mode touches all parts of the route – if something goes wrong, I’m going to know about it and send feedback to the other teams.

What considerations did you have to think about when creating this service?

There are 252 services running the route (202 of these are playable and 50 are AI) and in service mode everything is happening everywhere at once, because it is my first time doing this I had to think about so much.
In a scenario you can manipulate the AI and what they do, we have the ability to move them in an out of “portals”. When AI trains have passed the player train in a scenario, we don’t really have to worry about them too much usually, and we can send them to the nearest portal.
For this 24-hour timetable I had to think about where they are going to go and make sure everything makes sense. In a scenario, I'd usually try to make sure the passing AI gets to the nearest portal (within reason) to avoid any possible off-path errors.

Where do you start when creating a route like this? How do you begin?

I find this is where the German timetables shine, they group several different services together into a specific route number.
I already knew all the services before I started on this project because I am very familiar with the Train Simulator: Hamburg - Lübeck. I gained an interest in this region of Germany while working on Lübeck-Kiel (for TS1) last year, and it gave me an idea of what to expect for this one.
For the areas I wasn’t familiar with I had to research each different route number and find out where they go and where they stop.
I then go on a timetable website and start at a station; I pick a certain route number that I wanted to start with. I go from the beginning of the day, work through the day’s timetable and copy all of them into a spreadsheet.
Once everything is written down, we got to the really hard part. It’s what we call an outline.
If we think about the service from Hamburg – Lübeck, it takes an hour (roughly), one train leaving at 12:00pm. That same train set is not the one that does the 13:00 departure because it can’t get back to Hamburg in time. We have to figure out where that train goes next and what services follow. Timings and journey duration in this paragraph were made up purely for the sake of this example.
Once we have this outline, we use it to implement it into the timetable mode. We start with a formation and then add the services on to that, there's only 10 passenger formations for the 112s and a few more for the freight trains. Each 112 formation has on average of about 20 services each.

What have been some highlights from working on this route?

I like the area and I like the route and I was really glad to be able to make this timetable because I enjoy what the services do.
What made me smile the most is in Hamburg. I had been planning this timetable for weeks before I got to see it actually come to life.
What I was seeing is that I had programmed two trains to be in the platform at the same time which is really cool because that’s of course what they really do at Hamburg. When we play test it, it’s so satisfying to see it all working correctly. All made possible with help from the track and coding teams.
One of the things I like about the included stock is that nearly every service that operates the line is representable without the need of layers.
That being said, I really wanted to get the BR 101 layered onto the line. As it turns out that Intercity service no longer run the line. I spoke to a few of the community members and they were able to get me the timetable for the 101 that used to operate the line back in 2019.
I was also glad to find video evidence that the 101 has at some point run top and tail to Lübeck. So I'm quite glad the formation remains realistic. It's just one a day, in each direction, so it's something special to look out for but I'm glad it's there.
With the DB BR 101 (available separately), you also get two additional services for the upcoming Haupstrecke Hamburg - Lübeck.
We have a tool so we can simulate the 24-hour timetable in 30 minutes, at the end it gives us a log file, and it will tell us of any errors or trains running late. I finally got it to a point where it said no failures and that was a wonderful feeling.

What is it like working with the rest of the team?

We have a great team and we have some people who enjoy creating scenarios more and others who enjoy creating timetables, there’s a nice balance of who enjoys what.
If anyone ever needs help there are always plenty of people within the team ready to assist. The objectives are not my strong point when I’m doing scenarios and I know I can ask for support when I need it.
If someone else in the team isn’t confident about timetables for example, this is where my strengths are and I will offer my help.
All of us on the gameplay team want to do a good job, and we work together to deliver the best product we can.
Train Sim World 4
Hamburg – Lübeck - Creating Services