TS21: Introducing Riesa – Dresden: A Signal Deep-Dive
The route ahead is clear for departure, Bahnstrecke Riesa – Dresden is coming soon to Train Simulator!
Our German collection on Train Simulator is soon to expand with the arrival of Bahnstrecke Riesa – Dresden. Featuring Passenger and Freight simulation utilisting DB's BR 101, BR 146 and BR 189 locos as well as the BR 442, this is a busy route with a complex signalling system.
Ahead of this release we had the opportunity to speak with Lukas who is one of the developers creating the highly detailed and intricate KS and HL signals that are used on the route!
Hi Lukas, would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi Jamie, my name is Lukas aka “klimi15”. I am a third-party developer living in Frankfurt am Main, the financial heart of Germany. I am a Software Engineer and do jobs like signalling and modelling in my spare time.
Where did you get your interest in railways and signalling?
I was born in the middle of a big city; the railway always was around me. At the age of 4 I got my first model railway and the interest just never faded away. I was always looking out of the front of the train and making sure my parents booked a holiday by rail. A good friend of my parents, working at Deutsche Bahn, gifted me a book “Einführung in den Betriebsdienst”. It was incredibly old but had all the basic principles of German signalling. It sparked my interest in the operations of the real railway which I still have it to this day.
How did you get into Train Simulation and what have you made?
Whilst in school I had a first peak at Blender and started modelling my local railway station. An awful version of it if I look back at it today. A friend introduced me to Train Simulator around 2012, where I could put my very basic modelling skills to use, making it my new model railway until it turned into a small job. The route people now know me for is the “Frankfurt S-Bahn”, my local commuter railway that tunnels through the city. This also was the first time I signalled a route and had an in-depth encounter with signalling in Train Simulator. I have also provided models for a lot of other routes, including a swiss project and Dovetail routes like “Frankfurt High Speed”.
Where do you start when looking at signalling for a route and how do you make them?
The main answer to this is cab rides and a good understanding of the German signalling system. Secondly, a lot of research, help of the community and friends is needed to make an accurate representation. They are a tremendous help in gathering information for a route. After that is done, I head to blender to create models or modify them if needed. There are a lot of different types of signals, most routes needing some special types that must be created. They get combined with the scripts of Mathias “Schuster” Gundlach and exported for the setup in Train Simulator. The last step is to signal the route. This again requires cab rides or accurate plans which are hard to come by. Signals are placed, signal names are added, links placed, and many hours spend on testing everything works as expected.
What type of signalling systems can we expect on this route and is there anything unique about them?
This route is an East German route, so along the already known KS signalling, we have the HL signalling system from the Deutsche Reichsbahn. They can display over 16 aspects, so if your new to them, always have a guide ready. It dates back to 1959 but is still used on a lot of routes in eastern Germany. These combine the main and distant signal and come in a lot of shapes and sizes. A lot of work has gone into creating special types for wrong line running to provide an authentic experience!
What’s been the biggest challenge for creating signalling on this route?
Next to making sure that the HL signalling works correctly, a big challenge was the signalling setup of Dresden. The whole area has dynamic signal speeds, in Germany it is called “Heruntersignalisieren”. This is necessary for shorter signal blocks, where signals indicate lower speeds if the blocks ahead are not clear. Every signal in that area needs special setup to make sure it works correctly, which has costs me a few long nights to research and get right.
You mentioned about Mathias Gundlach, who is he and how do you work together?
Yes, Mathias Gundlach, also known as “Schuster”, is the guy behind the actual scripts. He has perfected them over the years, continuously improving them and adding new features. He has been a great help in adjusting scripts and developing new features for this route. It is the first time we make use of dynamic GPA´s (Gleisprüfabschnitt) at KS-Signals, at feature that makes sure, you are in a certain range of speed depending on the aspect.
And lastly, which is your favourite loco to drive on this route? Why?
I really enjoy the Train Simulator Pro BR 101. The acceleration is great on a route that frequently changes speed. Keeping to the speed limits inside Dresden and then accelerating out of Dresden-Neustadt up to 160km/h. As I mainly drive with PZB, the loco has one of the best and bug-free implementations of PZB, which gives you a nice experience on this route.
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TS21: Introducing Riesa – Dresden: A Signal Deep-Dive