I'm A Daily Commuter On The Mbta Providence Line. Here's My Feedback.

Discussion in 'PC Discussion' started by Jon from Rhode Island, Aug 25, 2021.

  1. Jon from Rhode Island

    Jon from Rhode Island Active Member

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    Hi everyone. I've been commuting from South Attleboro to Boston on MBTA more or less daily (less, these days) for the last ten years. I was excited to drive the route on TSW2 and thought I would offer my perspective from IRL.

    Timetables:
    - These are at least a couple of years out of date, which is not unreasonable because the most recent alterations are post-covid implementations. Still, the service date for each of the timetable routes appears to be August 15, 2021, which is incorrect. Currently, 810 leaves Providence at 07:40 and runs express from Mansfield at 08:09. 808 used to be the express train, but is now a local, leaving Providence at 07:15. Train 842 local originating at Attleboro has been discontinued. Additionally, the inbound express train now stops at Ruggles, whereas previously they skipped Ruggles and ran from Mansfield to Back Bay (as they do in the game). The outbound schedule has also been changed considerably, and I'm not sure if they plan to revert to the old timetable once ridership goes back up.
    - Additionally, in the past few years the MBTA has implemented "limited service" routes that go into effect during snow emergencies. This results in suspension of some routes, and the expresses are converted to locals. Also, most of the Readville trains are sacrificed during snow emergencies and subjected to bus substitution. Not sure if this is something that can be coded in when the weather is set to heavy snow.

    Rolling stock:
    - Others have pointed this out, but I'll pile on. Morning and evening rush trains almost exclusively use bi-level coaches, with the express trains running 8 car sets. Single-levels are sometimes subbed in when there are equipment shortages, but this is relatively rare (and in the pre-COVID days, anyone getting on after Attleboro became a sardine - it sucked). All of the cars in the sim are CTC-3s which were built in the 1980s and feature blue seats in a 2x2 configuration. These exist, but are increasingly rare especially on the Providence line which is the busiest in the system. More commonly, you'll find a CTC-3 cab car hitched to the Kawasaki or Hyundai rolling stock. I don't think I've ever seen a full CTC-3 set in real life. I'm not sure what the logic was in choosing the oldest in-service stock for the route.

    Overall route notes:
    - I'm not sure if the ACSES speed is set to 90 in real life, but all MBTA trains on the corridor run at a max speed of 80.
    - Not sure why there are in-cab signal aspects in the cab car but not in the loco. That might be accurate but it doesn't make too much sense.
    - The descriptions in the timetable and scenarios should not be using "east" and "west" directionals. The majority of the route is NE/SW, but everyone uses north and south particularly since the route runs parallel to I-95 which is a north-south route. Nobody thinks of Providence as "west" of Boston. "East" and "west" directionals are more applicable to trains going to Worcester and points west.
    - Am I right that the drivers essentially switch between 0 and full service when braking? That's really the only way I can effectively time my stops.
    - Long term suggestion box: If you add a frieght service on the Providence & Worcester railroad running northwest, and mixed MBTA/CSX on the Worcester to Boston route, this would be a shut-up-and-take-my-money situation. I would not complain about anything else ever again.

    Providence Station:
    - The platform level looks great. The "generic" hallway texture used as a pedestrian transfer between tracks is completely wrong. Even though the new station dates to the 1980s, the station interior is still gorgeous and worthy of treatment in the sim. You can see the passenger waiting area in this picture:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Providence_station#/media/File:Providence_Station_interior_2015.jpg
    Just to the left of this image are the two sets of elevator/stairs that lead to tracks 1/2 and 3/4 respectively. 1/2 is used by Amtrak and MBTA while 3/4 is exclusively used by MBTA as overflow.
    - The ride north out of Providence feels too suburban. These are urbanized areas with legacy industrial buildings, particularly as you ride into Pawtucket. This is one place where you don't need so many trees.
    - As others have said, it was disappointing not to see the old Pawtucket station or the construction of the new one.

    South Attleboro:
    - This is (was) my primary commute station, and it looks fantastic - from the parking lots to the Market Basket supermarket at the north end of the station. (Maybe they'll let you use the logo for an additional dose of realism). The station looks too good, in fact. Three of the four staircases have been closed since 2007 (not a typo) for "repairs", and have rusted all the way through. (Amusingly enough, the in-game texture for the stairs is a rust color, but these were originally bare metal.) In February 2021 they shut down the entire station indefinitely because the pedestrian overpass became structurally unsound. No idea when it will reopen.
    - At stations that have not fully converted to high level platforms - i.e. everything except Providence, 128, Ruggles, Back Bay, and South Staton - the stopping point for the train should be where the rear door of car 1 and the front door of car 2 open onto the high level section. (The front door of car 1, right behind the engine, is not used by passengers.) During late night and certain other off-peak runs, this is the only set of doors that open on the train. The other cars are blocked off with a metal bar in the vestibule.
    - ASCES restricted me to 30 mph leaving South Attleboro. Not sure what that's about since all the signals were green. The trains should generally run at 80 until at least Hyde Park. (I have been testing this IRL with my speedometer app and the overall cruising speed seems to be 77-78, reducing to 30 by the time the train hits the beginning of a station).

    Attleboro station:
    - The stopping point for the northbound train is at least 100 yards too far north. We should see the ramp to the high-level area at the south end of the platform and this is where the initial set of doors should open.
    - The scenery is too urban here. The only buildings with more than 2-3 stories are a few luxury apartments/mixed use office buildings being constructed. Otherwise, this area is very residential.
    - There should be a set of stairs at the south end of the platform leading down to South Main Street and a pedestrian sidewalk in the tunnel below. (See https://goo.gl/maps/7yEDkzgvPoKPdvh38)
    - There should be an intermodal bus station in the western parking lot.
    - I won't pile on about the passenger information signs; I know these are temporary. At Attleboro these are currently side-scrolling displays in all caps.
    - I got another 30 mph ATC restriction leaving Attleboro, which doesn't make sense (I'm basing this review on train 814 leaving around 8:30 am). This area is 4-tracked and Amtrak uses the middle rails.

    Mansfield station:
    - The stopping point northbound is actually perfect here, except that the door adjacent to the engine should not be open.
    - The scenery is still too urban, but the IRL contrast is not as extreme as it is with Attleboro. The parking lot visuals are pretty accurate.

    Sharon station:
    - The stopping point northbound is about 50 yards too far.
    - Visually, I think this one looks great, although I haven't parked there or used the station facilities IRL. The evening express runs spend a lot of time here on disembarkation when the train is overcrowded.

    Canton Junction:
    - The Canton viaduct seems understated in-game, though I appreciate that it's difficult to get the full impact of this feature with any of the in-game camera views.
    - Great job with rendering a very complicated station here.

    Route 128 station:
    - Great job with the visuals on this one, especially the passenger overpass, although the bridge should continue on to connect to the station on the third level.
    - The signage at the station should primarily be Amtrak signage, not MBTA. There are a few MBTA route maps and signs scattered around but for the most part Amtrak takes signage priority here.
    - The stopping point appears to be a bit too far north.
    - Amtrak note: There should be no passengers embarking northbound and no passengers disembarking southbound. Only MBTA sells tickets from 128 to Boston.

    Ruggles station:
    - This one looks really good, and the city skyline is really well done.
    - Maybe too much of an ask, but it would have been cool to see MBTA Orange Line trains on the parallel subway tracks between Forest Hills and Back Bay.

    Back Bay station:
    - All MBTA trains should stop with the engine fully enclosed in the tunnel to the south portal, so that the exhaust can safely vent.
    - There appears to be a generic hallway element to transfer between tracks, this is wrong - both sets of stairs alight into a waiting area. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipe....jpg/1280px-Back_Bay_Station_waiting_room.jpg It's ugly as hell IRL, but a renovation is planned to begin pretty soon.
    - The signs with the track numbers should be in all capital letters, similar to the station signs above the benches.
    - Emerging from BBY to the north, there is generic placeholder signage on the Mass Pike which runs parallel to the tracks between BBY and the South Station curve. This is completely immersion-breaking. The only sign westbound should have an Interstate 90 shield with the control city "Worcester". Eastbound view here: https://goo.gl/maps/nppMidaKx1wudVcs9 Westbound view here: https://goo.gl/maps/37DazrnRUkFN8WPF8 (Note Orange line running parallel up to a portal where it descends to Tufts Medical Center, Chinatown, and Downtown Crossing.)

    South Station:
    - The track number signs along the platforms should be in the same font as the other South Station signage (which looks great).
    - All MBTA trains should be parked so that the loco is fully clear of the bus terminal overhang, regardless of the distance to the station interior. My train had a correct stopping point, but the AI trains do not.
    - The PIS screens should be located at the entrances to each platform and are large vertical displays (replacing older monochrome displays). See https://bostonglobe-prod.cdn.arcpub...om/bostonglobe/DRWOKBS5VMO34ERA34GG72IYPI.jpg

    All in all, super excited about this - and well worth the wait!!
     
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  2. cActUsjUiCe

    cActUsjUiCe Developer

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    Excellent write-up. I designed the original timetable in 2019, which set the stage for the time period the overall route is set in. That's why you don't see the Pawtucket construction or the new Ruggles platform.

    Every time I've been up front, the maximum speed that would show on the ADU was 90MPH, so that's what we went with. It's the engineer's responsibility to keep the speed at 80 or below, but they're technically allowed to go 90MPH per the safety systems.

    Other than that, I completely agree with everything you stated. Glad you like the route!

    P.S. Also a Rhode Islander. I'm from North Kingstown :)
     
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  3. Lunar_Twisted

    Lunar_Twisted Well-Known Member

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    It was great reading your analysis on this route that you’re so familiar with since you ride them.
     
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  4. FeralKitty

    FeralKitty Well-Known Member

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    While realism is favorable, I wouldn’t want to see timetables vary based on the weather. Keeping services the same (is less confusing and) gives players choice of any setting for any service they prefer.
     
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  5. Crosstie

    Crosstie Well-Known Member

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    Excellent review, Jon. Fascinating details, which few of us would have spotted. I'd be interested in reading what you think of the train models. I think they're really good but my experience of the T is fairly ancient.
     
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  6. Jon from Rhode Island

    Jon from Rhode Island Active Member

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    The loco is gorgeous. As I mentioned above, we really need bilevel cars on this route. Off-peak consists are usually a mix of bilevel and single level. It’s pretty rare to see all single levels on the Providence line except maybe on weekends.
     
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  7. matinakbary

    matinakbary Well-Known Member

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    On that point: Just because they seem to be so rare today, isn't it great that exactly these coaches got "preserved" in TSW? Maybe the bi-level coaches will come in another addon, who knows? It's not impossible and i guess they would be very popular. But having railway cars in the game, which nowadays are hardly ever to spot is imo even cooler.
    I'm thinking of the german n-Wagen in this case as an example. Nowaday you only see the Dostos everywhere in Germany. But in past times, the country was filled with the good old one-level n-Wagen. It would be so cool, to have them in game, just because you don't see them anymore in reality.

    Thanks for your great analysis! As I don't live there, it's very interesting to read that.
     
  8. smugstarlord#4202

    smugstarlord#4202 Active Member

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    Thats a fantastic insight and a really good write up.
     
  9. Monder

    Monder Well-Known Member

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    Maybe a bit of a topic hijack, but is there something that could be done about the missing station? Even though I live half the world away, this old building and remnants of a station below seem super interesting and would greatly enhance the route.
     
  10. cActUsjUiCe

    cActUsjUiCe Developer

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    Unless DTG puts in the effort to make the proper model, the best I could possibly do is use existing assets to fill in that gap the best I can.
     
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  11. Monder

    Monder Well-Known Member

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    With the number of buildings made for the game I am sure some would do fine, definitely better than nothing :)
     
  12. KoeleKoen

    KoeleKoen Well-Known Member

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    Really really hoping the bilevel cars are added in the future, they'd add some variety and realism
     
  13. Mr JMB

    Mr JMB Well-Known Member

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    If the choice of season affected the timetable, that would be quite nice actually. Whether it be for summer specials or christmas specials or just weather affected services. Maybe this is something that should be toggle-able on or off if you don't want to have this, but having services affected by the weather would add a bit more immersion.
     
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  14. Monder

    Monder Well-Known Member

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    So I've taken a look at some routes in search of usable assets to make the station if you'd be interested in trying that. Bear in mind I have absolutely no idea what the asset library actually looks like and how modular the 3d models are in term of proportions (would probably make sense for them to be significantly modular).
    upload_2021-8-26_21-39-7.png
    [​IMG]
    No asset would probably work on its own, but it could probably be made in a similar fashion to how the community makes logos in the Livery Designer. Simple buildings forming the station. Behold my great MS paint layout :D
    upload_2021-8-26_22-6-13.png
    It seems the terrain around the spot is significantly lower than it is IRL. So defining the station area with some concrete walls (hopefully such asset is highly customisable) would probably help. For the underside of the station, a couple of bridges would probably do. Here I guess some with ribs would look the best as they would give it the older look.
    [​IMG]
    (this one is from TVL)
    Perhaps there are some "pillar assets" to throw between the tracks as the station seems to be supported by a bunch of them and it would enhance the "tunnel feeling" it seems to have based on the videos.

    For the building itself, I think it would be best to use a 2-3 story building for the sides and one end similarly to how it looks IRL and some "hall looking" building for... well the hall. I found some okay-ish buildings for both, though sometimes the proportions don't seem ideal (again, might be scaleable in the editor).
    Building A:
    [​IMG]
    (TVL)
    [​IMG]
    (NEC BP - probably better considering similar architecture)
    Building B:
    [​IMG]
    (PC (I have even seen them on the NEC BP I think) - I found these warehouses in many forms - long, short, high, etc., so they're probably customisable enough)
    [​IMG]
    (BKL - this one has great side windows, but would need a wall to finish the fronts... and it's twice the needed length, so if it's a fixed asset, no use here)
    [​IMG]
    (BKL, same benefits and drawbacks)
    [​IMG]
    (TVL - Redcar Central has an interesting roof over the track, but the colour is a bit off and it might be part of the whole station, which could be a problem)

    Some old stairs could be used as the old access points, but that would truly be just a neat addition if this was made.
    [​IMG]
    And I'm not even sure if it can be weathered in any way (that would probably be just a bonus, the normal-looking one would do fine), graffiti is its own object or part of the walls it's on?

    Hopefully, some of these could help if you really want to jump into this. As I said, I don't know how much freedom the editor provides and if it's even doable as such a crazy Frankenstation from these bits and pieces.
     
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  15. cActUsjUiCe

    cActUsjUiCe Developer

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    I appreciate the write-up. I'm sorta limited to what I can do, but I'll see what can be done.
     
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  16. Sharon E

    Sharon E Well-Known Member

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    CactusJuice, I for one want to thank you for how open and responsive you have been with this route. It is a total breath of fresh air to have this availability of the route developer.
     
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  17. Crosstie

    Crosstie Well-Known Member

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    Seconded.
     
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  18. Monder

    Monder Well-Known Member

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    Thirded.
     
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  19. cloudyskies21

    cloudyskies21 Well-Known Member

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    Just out of interest to any locals who can answer this, why is there a level crossing in the middle of the station at Stoughton? It seems really odd for the barriers to be down as the train just sits there at the end of the line waiting to return to Boston.
     
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  20. uvm0902

    uvm0902 Active Member

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    CactusJuice good day! I understand correctly, are you continuing the construction of NEC? Will we see new sections of the highway?
     
  21. cActUsjUiCe

    cActUsjUiCe Developer

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    My only post-release involvement so far has been catenary replacements. I have no firm plans of doing any other sort of development for this route at the present time.
     
  22. Crosstie

    Crosstie Well-Known Member

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    This is fairly common on US commuter lines. Trains will often block cross streets while loading/ unloading passengers. People frequently alight in the middle of a main street.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2021
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  23. Monder

    Monder Well-Known Member

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    My very uninformed guess would be that the train unloads, goes further to those sidings and rolls back 4-5 minutes before departure time so it doesn't stay there the whole time like in-game. Again, just a guess.
     
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  24. Jon from Rhode Island

    Jon from Rhode Island Active Member

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    This is also just a guess, but I believe the Stoughton line uses 5 car consists and therefore can clear the intersection. I just took it today from 128, I forgot to count ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
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  25. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    There is a tendency at DTG, even on modern routes, to go somewhat 'preservationist'. The Spessart-Rampe and Heigenbrucke Tunnel, already gone by the time MSB came out. The extinct 314s on Cathcart. The GWML with HSTs and OHLE only being installed. SD40s still working the main line in Sand Patch (not to mention the manual switching and hump yard, all gone).

    And I doubt there was the budget to do a third passenger-coach type in addition to the single-deckers and Amfleets.
     
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  26. Jon from Rhode Island

    Jon from Rhode Island Active Member

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    Huh, I didn’t know this. What replaced it? I have seen drone footage online and it seemed to show all the features in the game.
     
  27. Rudolf

    Rudolf Well-Known Member

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    The problem if you live in the area is that know to much about how it should be. I live say 6000 km away from this route, and to be honest for me it is OK, if you can represent the atmosphere it should have well, no need for 100% a look alike of the real thing.
     
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  28. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    The former hump yard was graded so it's still there but with no hump. The manual switches are now all centrally controlled from the tower.
     
  29. erg73

    erg73 Well-Known Member

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    But yes I was recently sorting a complete train on the hump and it worked correctly, it was not level and the switches were functional. When did it change?:(
     
  30. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    Remote switching, all the way back in 2004 (DTG cheated to give us player control). The hump yard was taken out in 2017.
     

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