Northern Transpennine Timetable

Discussion in 'PC Discussion' started by Trim, Jan 26, 2020.

  1. Trim

    Trim Active Member

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    After buying TSW and starting on the Northern Transpennine route, it did not take long for me to realise that ordinary spawning in to trains does not really give enough time to prep, particularly not with DMUs where you need to set the tail lights at the back end, and the destination blind if you feel like doing that sort of thing (what did real-life drivers do on this route, does anyone know? Often it was common for only the leading end to show the correct destination). Why the incoming driver can't set the lights I have no idea, but they don't.

    I couldn't find an up-to-date NTP timetable online (and those I could find were in pdf format, making any manipulation impossible since I only have Acrobat Reader), so I've created my own using the in-game times. Spending a lot of time looking at the timetable has revealed a number of oddities which I'll share with you in this post, but I expect most people are only interested in the timetable itself, so here it is:

    At the moment, it does not include Heavy Freight. It does now, See here: https://forums.dovetailgames.com/threads/northern-transpennine-heavy-freight-timetable.20530/

    If you do spawn in on foot, there are a few things to be aware of (TSW veterans will know these, but they might catch out newer players):
    1. If you spawn in more than five minutes before the start time, you won't be able to board a loco (and sometimes you can't board a DMU). The solution is to Save, Quit to main menu and then select Last Played. Unfortunately the save doesn't include specific locos or carriages, so if you've drawn the jackpot with 45143 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, you'll doubtless find that when you go back into the game you've got boring old 45106 (again!), but at least I've never seen it swap a 45 for a 47 or vice versa. Also, if you opened a door before the save, the door will appear closed when you re-load (although the game knows that it is open).
    2. For trains that arrive from off-map, you may get the warning Cannot drive service! You need to wait for the 30-second door open cycle to complete before it'll let you sit down in the chair. The AI driver vanishes at this point, so you don't need to watch the doors.
    3. You can open the doors before the in-game start time and, provided you keep them open for at least 30 seconds after the start time you’ll complete the Load Passengers step, but unless you do a door open after the start time (you need to close the doors first), then the stupid passengers will just wait on the platform rather than getting on the train.
    A few comments on the timetable spreadsheet itself.
    1. There are four DMU diagrams (2x 2-car and 2x 4-car) which form all of the local services. I have not specifically identified which diagram works which service, but they are easy to work out for anyone interested. Just see which platform a train terminates in and the next departure from that platform will use the same unit(s). All other trains (including the 6-car DMU) begin and end their journeys off-map.
    2. The first time in each column is the in-game start time. For most passenger services, you then need to load passengers for a minimum of 30 seconds, and the actual departure time is 2 minutes after the start time (you can depart 30 seconds early). The 06:30 Huddersfield to Marsden for some reason has a 2½ minute passenger load time and an actual departure time of 4 minutes after the start time; my guess is that this is a mistake. There may be other trains like this; it isn't something I have looked at closely.
    3. Loco-hauled trains appear to be assigned a class 45 or 47 at random, with about an 80% chance of a 45. I get the impression that some services have a far higher probability of a class 47, but randomness is a tricky thing to detect and I haven’t given any indication of what I think may be likely spawns.
    So, what have I found? First of all, here is a scan of the 1982-1983 timetable (apparently the game is set in 1983), so you can compare the in-game timetable with the real one:
    1983 Timetable 1.jpg
    (You can find the entire leaflet here: http://www.smart-rail.co.uk/?pu003d318&paged=38)

    The first thing to notice is that the in-game timings, both loco-hauled and DMU, are spot on. The loco-hauleds also get more or less the correct service pattern. In real life all trains stopped at Stalybridge and Dewsbury, but I rather like the small number of fast ones in game which just stop at Huddersfield. There are also extra loco-hauleds in the evening in game, but quite honestly TSW's loco-hauled passenger timetable is very good indeed.

    The DMU service is not so good, I think. The real timetable shows a lot more variation than we get in game. Very few services stop at Miles Platting and Park, evening services don't stop at Ravensthorpe, there are more Marsden turnarounds, there are a few services that start or terminate at Stalybridge and a couple of the DMU diagrams start at Leeds. Because it is better in TSW if an incoming service forms an outgoing service, rather than a train disappearing off the map, I am sure the real life DMU workings cannot be matched with any degree of accuracy (I expect DMUs were shared with other routes, so a Leeds-Huddersfield service might become a Huddersfield-Wakefield one, for example), but I would like to see some of the variation that existed in real life reflected in the game.

    Apart from the timetable, there is another very obvious discrepancy between the game and the prototype, and that is loco-hauled passenger train formations. 7x Mk 2 plus a BG is correct, but it doesn't take a lot of thinking about it to realise that the first class always being at the front and the BG at the back must involve an awful lot of shunting at Liverpool and Scarborough. Transpennine loco-hauled formations at the time were remarkably consistent, but the BG was always at the Liverpool end, and the formation was BG-FK-TSO-TSO-TSO-TSO-TSO-TSO. There might be the odd variations, and of course sets could get turned at Newcastle (though it seems they rarely were), but it would be nice to see the BG at the front of the train on Leeds-Manchester services. This would probably require the up Dewsbury stopping point to be moved 15 yards or so towards Manchester (but it ought to be moved anyway; the BG is half off the platform as it is). Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that the FK data panels call it a TSO?

    Apart from Dewsbury, some other stopping points could be improved, Stalybridge up being an obvious example, where even 2-car DMUs go right to the far end of the platform; Stalybridge isn't Bristol Temple Meads, where such things might be necessary to fit another train in behind. Some of the routings in stations are weird as well. The sheer number of Manchester-bound DMUs entering Huddersfield via the old up main and using the middle crossover to stop in platform 1b seems wrong to me. It might be used occasionally, and of course it is needed if platform 1a is occupied, but there seems no reason for the vasst majority of Leeds-Marsden/Manchester DMUs to use the middle crossover. Both TPOs are also wrong. I imagine the citizens of Huddersfield and Leeds like getting parcels as much as anyone, so stopping the down in Huddersfield and the up in Leeds in non-platform roads makes no sense at all.

    Talking about the TPO, it isn't really a TPO of course, since it does not include a POS (post office sorting coach), only BGs. I don't know whether it is meant to represent any particular TPO or parcels service (the game says it is going to Newcastle and Crewe, but Crewe via Manchester Victoria seems rather an odd route), and I don't know what other TPOs ran over the Transpennine route, but this route did include one very well-known one, the York-Aberystwyth (although I don't think it went beyond Shrewsbury by the time the game is set). From what I remember it was about 22:30 from Leeds heading west/south and 01:00 from Stockport heading east/north – a handy way for me to travel overnight to Leeds/York, since it carried passengers, in a single SK as I recall. The rest of the train was a motley assortment of parcels vans as well as the POS, and from what I remember the parcels vans included four-wheelers, although that might be before the game’s era. Of course, it didn't serve Manchester Victoria, which makes it less suitable for the game, but went, if memory serves, over the OA and GB line from Stalybridge, avoiding Guide Bridge (a rare line in those days). I’ve just looked it up online and apparently it did include a Manchester portion, at least in the west/south direction, detached at Stalybridge. Now, that could be an interesting operation for the game! Even stranger, I've just discovered the Transpennine route featured one of the least likely TPO services in the country, from Whitehaven to Huddersfield and back. This stopped at Manchester Victoria (I wonder if it picked up the parcels van dropped off the previous night's York-Aberystwyth), before calling at Huddersfield and then leaving northwards and taking the Calder Valley line at Bradley Junction, thence via Blackburn to Preston. There's nothing much wrong with the TPO in game, except for where it stops, but I thought I'd add this little snippet of historical interest.

    The Saturday Special is another oddity in the timetable. I like this principal stations only 6-car DMU service, but if it is going to and from Blackpool, why is it routed over the Great Central from Stalybridge? Remember, 1983 is before the Windsor Link was built, so the train would then have had to have gone via Piccadilly and Deansgate to cross back onto the L&M and then use Parkside East Curve to get onto the WCML. A couple of rare lines for track gricers (well, they were rare back then), but hardly the most sensible way to get to Blackpool. Why not run this to/from Victoria? Also, why does this train not load passengers at the start point in either direction? The absence of loading passengers at Leeds makes this train very tight to prepare; it follows the 08:21 Leeds-Manchester loco-hauled into Leeds, meaning that it's barely stopped and unloaded incoming passengers (during which time a player can't take over, of course) before it's due to leave again at 08:25 – actually leave, not "start", as the game has it. This train should surely precede the 08:21 into Leeds and be timed to start at 08:23, followed by load passengers, keeping the actual departure time as 08:25. It could also do with a load passengers step at Stalybridge in the other direction, but here it sits in the platform for ages so there are no problems with taking over or prep. Finally regarding this train, why does the AI driver put up Stalybridge as the destination on the outward journey? I don't think the destination blinds include Blackpool, but they do have Special.

    What else? I've mentioned the lack of variety in DMU station stops, but we also have some real oddities with DMU workings, like Manchester getting no arrivals at all before 08:48 (how do people get to work?) and a few instances of two stopping services being scheduled to run only a few minutes apart, the 10:49 and 10:55 from Leeds being the worst example. Perhaps we should have some coupling and uncoupling to make up different length trains to suit different requirements so these two trains could be run as one (though 6-car stopping trains sound unlikely to me on this route in the 1980s). For variety, we could even have loco hauleds at the beginning and end of the day starting and terminating at Leeds, with light engine movements to/from Holbeck, and perhaps some carriage shunting as well. Finally, there's the ridiculous situation where fast trains get caught behind stoppers. The 17:48 loco-hauled from Manchester easily catches up with the 17:37 DMU, but the 19:48 from Manchester is the worst, since it only stops at Huddersfield, after which it has to follow the 19:34 ex-Manchester DMU all the way to Leeds. You may as well stop at Stalybridge and Dewsbury, if only to waste some time. Perhaps these are deliberate inclusions go give us some running under yellows, but all the way from Huddersfield to Leeds is too much; why not have the loco-hauled overtake the DMU at Huddersfield? In the up direction, you could send DMUs into platform 4 while the loco hauled used platform 1, which would be something different .However, the one example of an up loco-hauled catching up with a DMU is not one that I would change at all; the 18:21 from Leeds is a really good example of running under yellows. If you keep to time, you’ll get a red at Marsden while the 18:06 from Leeds is still in Standedge Tunnel, but that’s an exceptionally long section so you’ll then get a couple of greens before being on yellows to Stalybridge. Then, because of the speed limit at Stalybridge you probably won’t catch it up again till Miles Platting, after which the DMU takes the slow line while you take the fast.

    And finally, spawn points. Most of them are fine, but why does Manchester Victoria have to be in the middle of platform 5. Who wants to use platform 5, unless DTG are planning on a Bury expansion? Can we please spawn on the main concourse, handy for all the bays and the bridge?

    Now, I think, to install Heavy Freight and see what that has to offer. I bet they stick a freight train right in front of the 16:52 departure from Huddersfield (16:04 ex-Manchester); it’s the only reason I can see for such slow running times to Mirfield, the only DMU service train where I can beat the timetable. Do you think that if I wish for it hard enough, Heavy Freight will add that couple of miles to Healey Mills? Wouldn't that be nice, eh?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
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  2. Tonto62

    Tonto62 Well-Known Member

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    You won't get to Healey Mills unfortunately, but you will get to use the Calder Valley lines through Mirfield. I look forward to reading your findings!
     
  3. theorganist

    theorganist Well-Known Member

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    A good constructive post.

    I wondered about the DMU services not being accurate, I agree some more variety in destinations (like Stalybridge) would be nice, and in the DMU's themselves, but that would be another matter. It would be nice it we could use the 3 car 101 from TVL on NTP as there would have been a mixture of 3 car and 2 car sets, whereas in 1989 when TVL, Heatons few remaining first generation DMU's were 2 carriage..

    I have mentioned before about platform markers, a two car DMU stopping right at the end of Huddersfield Leeds bound platform looks ridiculous, this used to happen in TS1 until developers started putting in multiple platform markers for longer trains and shorter trains.
     
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  4. Trim

    Trim Active Member

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