Train Sim World 3
Train Sim World 3: Southeastern Highspeed – A Timetable Deep Dive
In our Roadmap articles following the announce of Train Sim World 3, Joe and I (James) introduced you to the new timetable that will accompany the expanded Southeastern Highspeed: London – Ashford & Faversham route. Strap yourselves in, because we’re in for a long one, in this deep dive we’re going granular in terms of detail, covering (almost) everything you can experience in the refreshed and expanded Garden of England!
Before we go any further, we’re glad to say the following is true for ALL PLATFORMS, there are no missing or altered services on “Gen 8” Consoles. And, if you don’t want any spoilers at all, then perhaps bookmark this and read it once it has released - just know in summary, this timetable has roughly twice as much going on compared to Train Sim World 2!
Firstly, a Recap…
Train Sim World 2: Southeastern High Speed featured a timetable with its reference based on the 2020 Working Timetable, which as it happens was much quieter than previous years. This was due to the pandemic driving down passenger numbers, resulting in vast changes across the network.
The original timetable featured a total of 271 services:
- Half-hourly Class 395s between London & Faversham, dropping to hourly outside of the rush hour
- Half-hourly Class 395 AI between London & Ebbsfleet Low Level
- Half-hourly Class 375s between Gravesend and Rainham, covering for Thameslink
- Half-hourly Class 375s between Rochester and Faversham
- Half-hourly Class 375s between Rochester and Gillingham
- Summer special Class 375s between Gravesend and Faversham
- Class 465 playable on the Rainham and Gillingham Class 375 services, as well as the specials
- 8 Freight services using East Coastway
- 4 Railtour services using Northern Trans-Pennine
There were several issues throughout this timetable which we wanted to address, such as:
- Incorrect start times for all services, resulting in departing up to 2 mins late, making it hard to keep to the timetable
- AI Class 395s running faster than they should be on High Speed 1, further compounding the lateness issue when controlled by a player
- A lack of AI at certain stations
- A lack of rush hour variety
- Sorting out where all the trains are actually supposed to be
- The use of pre-pandemic service patterns
When news arrived of the Southeastern Highspeed Extended route for Train Sim World 3, we sprung to work with the intent of delivering a much richer timetable, befitting of such a line and its soon to be found network-like status.
Southeastern Highspeed in Train Sim World 3
The first decision we made was to start fresh, and that began with researching a different timeframe, as even now, many services are not as good as they used to be. Reference was found for the 2019 Working Timetable, and having plenty of commuting and trainspotting experience with this timetable as well, we knew it was the right choice for Train Sim World 3.
So, without further ado, here is a detailed look into the new Timetable!
High Speed 1
With the 30+ mile extension to Ashford International, including the Maintenance Depot, and a mere 3 platforms at St Pancras, the Class 395 service patterns were the first port of call to get right, and there seemed no better way than to follow the exact diagrams for each of the units throughout the day.
Whereas a timetable will tell you all the timing and platform information for all services in particular locations throughout the day, diagrams instead follow the trains themselves, allowing you to see a full day’s work for every single unit. For example:
Here’s 395026 and 010, still tucked away neatly in Ashford Depot at the crack of dawn, and both units await a long and varied day on the Southeastern network! Each diagram has a number, 010 is on Diagram 2, and 026 is on Diagram 3, let’s see where they end up…
As a pair, these 2 units make their way out of the depot in 5J03 (above), before running 1J03 from Ashford International to London St Pancras (below). The sun is rising, Rochester can be seen from High Speed 1, it’s looking like a good day!
At St Pancras, things are already changing, the two units are divided to carry out their separate diagrams. 026 will continue Diagram 3, running an empty stock 5T90 down to Maidstone West, ready for a rush hour-only service back to St Pancras (above). And 010 will soon start its journey as Diagram 2, forming 1F08 down to Faversham (below).
This is but a snippet of the complex Class 395 movements throughout the day, just 2 of the 26 regular units out and about. As trains leave the route to other destinations, this doesn’t necessarily make it easy to follow every single unit all day, but it ensures that we’re able to get them all in the right places, as without that, certain services run the risk of being left out.
Round and Round
Throughout the day, and in the menu, you will see many services that are labelled “St Pancras to St Pancras”, enter the “loopers”! These services, considered a single Headcode throughout their entire journey, see 395s depart St Pancras, continue onward to the Kent Coast either via Ashford or Medway, before continuing to complete the loop back to St Pancras. For these services, it is imperative to check the descriptions so you know what you are driving, as “St Pancras to St Pancras” can mean:
- St Pancras to Faversham (onward to Ramsgate, Dover & Folkestone) then…
- Ashford back to St Pancras
- St Pancras to Ashford (onward to Folkestone, Dover & Ramsgate) then…
- Faversham back to St Pancras
It is common for the on-board and station PIS to display an intermediate station for ease of navigation, otherwise it can be very confusing at stations such as Stratford International, where both platforms say St Pancras… one takes 7 minutes, the other takes 3 hours! Therefore, you can expect the trains to say destinations such as Ramsgate, Sandwich or Folkestone on the front. And yes, with these services essentially doing a 180° turn, the units do stay the correct way around when they eventually come back onto the route.
As alluded to already, the full diagrams also allow for unique services such as the Maidstone West shuttles, driveable as far as Strood, unique empty stock moves allowing for non-stop running throughout, including through Ebbsfleet, so practice changing power modes on the move! Lastly, a favourite service of ours is 5J96, you’ll have to wait and see why…
So, from 59 playable Class 395 services in Train Sim World 2, you can enjoy over 190 in Train Sim World 3, and we’ve only just started, let’s move onto the Chatham Main Line.
Chatham Main Line
With the Chatham Main Line services, there was less of a need to exactly follow all the diagrams throughout the day, as with portals at both ends, going onward to London Victoria and the Kent Coast, all that sorting out can happen in the background. However, attention to detail has still been put into all the train formation lengths, and making sure that if a service ran, it goes in!
One big difference between the 2020 and 2019 timetables is what a majority of the 2K Headcode services do. In Train Sim World 2, these services just ran the short hop between Rochester and Gillingham, but in Train Sim World 3, a majority of these are now Dover Priory services in the off peak, increasing the amount of gameplay between Rochester and Faversham. These services are timed to be Class 465-operated, but the Class 375 can run them too, whereas the more mainline services are Class 375 only.
465914 is seen at Gillingham Level Crossing on 2K20 from London Victoria, bound for Dover Priory. A subset of Class 465/2 units were refurbished and fitted with First Class, being reclassified as 465/9s, as the addition of this creature comfort allowed them to perform long journeys such as this.
You will now see a mix of 4, 8 and 12-car services, the latter primarily making an appearance during the rush hour, on additional services to/from the Kent Coast to the likes of London Cannon Street. Outside of the peak, most services are 8 coaches, with more in the middle of the day being 4 as demand is lower.
A trio of 375s ease through the old platforms at Rochester on 1G91 from Broadstairs to London Cannon Street. The Class 375/9 is the high-density model, featuring somewhat controversial 3+2 seating arrangements to pack people in by their hundreds. This Rochester station was closed and the new one opened in 2015, as the old site was not able to meet modern demands, and 12-car trains such as this couldn’t even fit in the platforms.
Another crucial element to the Chatham Main Line is coupling and uncoupling, which happens in the rush hour at Faversham. Services from London divide with each half going to Ramsgate and Dover Priory respectively, and vice versa. Other services which are also present are the peak-only services between Sheerness and Victoria, these are driveable between Rainham and Rochester, and Sheerness Branch AI at Sittingbourne.
375s part ways at Faversham, each going to serve different lines towards the Kent Coast. This happens at specific times of day, the easiest way to find them in Timetable Mode is search for the & symbol when selecting a service.
From a numbers perspective, the Chatham Main Line looks about the same at around 120 services, but the extension of 2K services to Faversham makes it naturally busier, not to mention all the variety and added attention to detail, better recreating an accurate day on the route.
North Kent Line
Perhaps one of the biggest transformations to services is the North Kent Line. Gravesend Platform 0 used to be devoid of life, however with the extension to Dartford, a whole bucketload of services are now present. Class 465 services from Gravesend go to Dartford, continuing onwards to London Victoria and Charing Cross each with different stopping patterns along the way.
465903 accelerates out of Gravesend on 1D34 towards the Capital. The service is so frequent, the next terminating service is already sat waiting to enter the platform (above). The same service is seen arriving at Stone Crossing, the sky now settling in for a calm night... or is it? (below).
During the Rush Hour, there are also services which are extended beyond Gravesend to the likes of Strood. These services feature a unique operational movement which sees Class 465s stop at Strood, pull forward slightly onto the Medway Valley Line, then reverse back into the other platform. Reversing is done, instead of changing ends, owing to the 465’s lack of walkthrough gangways. Thanks to additional work extending the playable boundary at Strood, this is something which is fully playable. You will see the full suite of Medway Valley Line AI at Strood as well.
On a brisk Autumn morning, 465915 and 913 pull onto the Medway Valley Line (above), then reverses back into Platform 2 at Strood (below) in the morning peak on 5L12, having just come from Dartford. Once in the platform, the driver can then change ends and make their way back.
In Train Sim World 2, the decision was made to make things feel busier by adding in quasi-Thameslink services, using the Class 375, which ran between Gravesend and Rainham. In this new timetable, we decided that leaving that gap open was a much more appropriate and realistic idea. However, do not fear, while the Class 375s don’t often appear at Dartford, you can still drive it on Slade Green-Ramsgate ECS moves, covering the full line between Dartford and Faversham.
375906 and 901 snake their way through a rain soaked Greenhithe on 5L17 to Ramsgate Depot, where Southeastern’s Electrostar fleet is maintained. Another pair will return from their maintenance on 5U93 later in the day.
For all you number crunchers out there, this equates to at least 150 services which are entirely new, not something previously possible before, and in fact, combined with the Chatham Main Line, makes the Class 465 the most used train on the route!
Hoo’s that coming over the hill? That’s right, it’s time to talk Shed. The Class 66 has been a staple locomotive on modern UK routes since the beginning of Train Sim World, however, it’s never really had masses to do... 8 services on original Southeastern High Speed, 13 on East Coastway, 16 on Great Western Express... With Train Sim World 3, these numbers, combined, are now blown out the water, let's go through the many freight services now included:
Off the bat, Southeastern Highspeed’s Class 66 is accompanied by 2 freight wagons; the JNA, a large open wagon mainly designed for hauling aggregates, and the new MFA wagon, much smaller in profile, this wagon is more accustomed to “engineering” type services.
Unlike passenger timetables which have strict, repeatable daily patterns, freight is a lot harder to pin down. Pick any day as a reference and stuff will change, they will be allowed to run early, or lose their slots and run potentially hours late, or not even run at all, so it was crucial we stuck to a consistent plan when plotting the freight services.
- Rule 1: it had to be a service with a real Headcode, we didn’t want to start making stuff up
- Rule 2: photographic/video evidence needed to exist, so we knew what the consist was supposed to be or how closely we could represent it
- Rule 3: within as much detail as possible, we needed timings so we knew at least roughly when to start each service
If a service met those rules, on the list it went!
Throughout the day, there is lots going on around Hoo Junction and the surrounding area, a large majority of the freight traffic occurs between Strood and Dartford, and kicks off almost immediately with the first services departing before 1am, the last at gone 10pm. You also get a handful of shunting operations, moving wagons around in preparation for other services, as well as light engine moves.
66017 hauls 6Y41 through Dartford, a service formed of MFA wagons bound for the Isle of Grain. Freight runs at different speed limits to passenger traffic, and with the varying loads, mixed with dynamic weather, no two services will be the same.
There’s more to freight than just what these 2 wagons have to offer however, so it’s time to dig into layers, AI, and other neat tricks!
As alluded to in previous messaging, we now have the ability to enable seasonal elements to timetable layers. In a nutshell, what does this mean?
Certain services in the real world do not run 365 days of the year, railway operators change their timetables to meet particular demands and requirements, and operators of heritage services often keep their excursions to particular months when the desire for leisure rail travel is high.
In the context of Train Sim World 3, this new feature gives us the power to define when certain services are intended for, meaning that you will only see them as AI during the specified time of year. You have the power of choice, if you want to drive these services at any time of year you can, but when driving other trains, you won’t see them unless you’re in the right months.
Southeastern operate a handful of their own special services, these being additional Summer-only Class 465 services which operate between London and Ramsgate via Dartford. You will only see these as AI between June and August, when the demand for Kent Coast traffic is at its highest.
465905 takes the lead on 1E93, the first of 3 coastbound services that run via Dartford in the morning during the Summer. Also note in the background the QE2 crossing, the very same bridge over the Thames which High Speed 1 passes underneath (above). This service shall run non-stop between Gillingham and Faversham, so enjoy the nice long stretch! Later in the day, another pair make the late return on 1A95, which will terminate at Dartford, pictured at Lower Road (below).
You knew it was coming, 3 cheers (or should it be chuffs) for the railtours included in Southeastern Highspeed!
The Spirit of Steam, rather aptly named, makes use of the LMS Jubilee Class locomotive and Mk1 coaches included in Spirit of Steam: Liverpool - Crewe. This pair of services are, much like the freight, based on real timings on which steam tours have traversed the route in reality, and you will only see these in the latter half of the year.
LMS Jubilee 45596 coasts through Chatham on 1S99, the outbound leg for The Spirit of Steam. This lunchtime service originated from London Victoria, and traversed the Chatham Main Line, joining our route at Rochester. Later on, the train will return as 1P99, although its journey will take a slightly different path...
The Charity Javelin, yep, that’s an EMU on a railtour, pays homage to the many fundraising tours that Class 395s have undertaken throughout the years. These tours are renowned for taking 395s off the beaten track, onto routes they’ve never been on before, so as a result this comparatively spends not much time on the route. But this gives you the freedom to take the 395 onto Scenario Planner, drive it on as many routes as you like, before it returns to home territory. My personal challenge to you, how many miles can you drive to fill the gap?!
395015 is today’s charity ambassador, getting prepped for service in Ashford depot (above). After long day of Javelin touring, the unit passes through Rochester Platform 3 (below). One has to be very keen to spend so long on these services, 12+ hours on a commuter train seat is no easy task, but if they’re lucky they might be in for a trick, or a treat...
Le Français Formidable! Yes, it's a bit off the cuff, we know, however with the extension of High Speed 1 and its 300 km/h speed limit, it almost felt rude to not let you experience that thrill. Pitched as a two-pronged experiment, a total of 2 TGV Duplex trains from LGV Méditerranée will appear in the middle of the day, only in March and April. One train is a playable train, offering a total of 4 railtour services along High Speed 1, the other is an AI-only test service, performing a non-stop run to London and back.
The railtour Duplex takes a rest break at Ashford International’s Platform 4, and while the doors cannot be opened to allow passengers to stretch their legs, (as stepping on this platform counts as breaching border control!) They can at least enjoy the view of the test service as it races across Ashford Flyover.
Layered and AI Freight
As mentioned earlier, there’s more to freight than the included wagons. To further increase the variety of freight on the route, a selection of playable freight services are using rolling stock available from other add-ons.
A series of 8 services are included which operate between Hoo Junction, on the spur where the Isle of Grain branch splits off, and Dartford. These services are using the TEA wagon from the BR Heavy Freight Pack, and what this does is recreate the vital services which run between Grain and Heathrow Airport, delivering Jet A aviation fuel to power the many aircraft that take off every day. 4 services are loaded trains to Dartford, and the other 4 are empty trains, heading back to Grain for refilling. While rather short in duration, these services pose a hefty 3600-ton challenge, particularly in bad weather!
Another service which is included, 6V92, makes use of the HKA wagon found in Great Western Express, this rather unique 2-parter requires a reversal move before later making its way towards Strood. In all, including these layers, you can experience a total of 53 services with the Class 66.
66213 gradually eases its way onto the North Kent Line, making liberal use of sand to try and retain grip on this snowy morning trip to Heathrow. All this weight being moved by a single locomotive, just to fuel a fraction of Heathrow’s daily flights, an incredible feat of modern industry (above). Meanwhile, a double-headed 66 eases out of Hoo Junction on 6V92, onward bound for Tonbridge West Yard (below).
The freight action doesn’t stop there. We saw an opportunity to add in freight throughout the route, further bringing it to life in ways never seen before:
Several times a day, container trains (using the FKAs from Great Western Express) race their way through Ashford International station, on their way to/from Dollands Moor, a key staging point for freight between UK and France. This is, of course, accompanied by all-day Southeastern AI at Ashford. You can also see similar AI traversing the section of the Tilbury lines adjacent to High Speed 1, as well as along the brief section of the North London Line visible just to the north of St Pancras.
Static stock has also been placed in a few areas. With the new and improved fences along the Dagenham stretch of High Speed 1, static stock as per reality can be seen here. And lastly, a suite of additional static stock has been placed on the East Coast Main Line, mimicking the various upgrade works it has seen in recent years to rebuild the approach into Kings Cross.
We’re glad the day has come to be able to share all this information with you, and we think we’ve proven just how much we can ramble on about this. All that’s left now is for you to experience it for yourselves, oh, and the total service count... let’s just say it’s well over 500 and leave it at that!
As we close off with a final shot of Strood, and 395026 making an appearance once again, we leave you here, a few thousand words wiser and hopefully raring to sink your teeth into this all-new timetable for Train Sim World 3: Southeastern Highspeed. It’s been a pleasure working on this, and we can’t wait to see you all on the rails in September.
Train Sim World 3 Standard Edition and Deluxe Edition are available to pre-order now on Steam, PlayStation, Xbox (Deluxe Only) and Epic Games Store. When you pre-order on your selected store you will have 4-day Early Access to Train Sim World 3 as well as a bonus decal pack to use within the livery editor to share on Creators Club, the home of player customization in Train Sim World.
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Train Sim World 3
Train Sim World 3: Southeastern Highspeed – A Timetable Deep Dive