Spirit Of Steam Scheduled Running Times

Discussion in 'PC Discussion' started by lcyrrjp, Jun 18, 2022.

  1. lcyrrjp

    lcyrrjp Well-Known Member

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    I've been enjoying Spirit of Steam, and the new challenge of trying to get the best out of the loco and manage the boiler pressure to have steam available when it's needed. On a recent run I had clear signals all the way, ran close to line speed throughout and braked late and hard for speed restrictions and stations, without messing it up. I arrived feeling pretty pleased with myself...4 minutes late.

    What more could I have done, I wondered? A minute or so late might make me think a few tweaks and I'd be there, but 4 minutes to make up, over quite a short route? It was hard to think where I could possibly find that time.

    That set me thinking about the timings. They're obviously generated by the game, rather than input by someone, as they have those horrible odd-seconds arrival and departure times (10:31:27 or whatever). Are they realistic or sensibly achievable?

    I took a look at the actual 1958 timetable, here (see table 96):

    https://timetableworld.com/ttw-viewer.php?token=1987099b-01c5-47f7-a8dd-ba173774ceb5

    The results are interesting, to say the least. Fastest times are as follows:

    Lime St - Crewe (non-stop)
    Real life - 51 mins
    SoS - N/A (no schedules)

    Lime St - Crewe (1 stop)
    Real life - 55 mins
    SoS - 43 mins

    Crewe - Lime St (non-stop)
    Real life - 50 mins
    SoS - 36 mins

    Crewe - Lime St (1 stop)
    Real life - 55 mins
    SoS - 38 mins

    I only compared fast trains (Jubilee with load 10 in the game) - I haven't got onto the stoppers yet, but they're probably difficult to compare because the traction used on SoS is not realistic.

    Those fast trains in real life may not have been Jubilees, of course, but they're long distance trains on which, in reality, a Class 6 would probably have been the minimum - most were probably booked for a Class 7 or 8. They could have been slightly heavier than load 10, but bear in mind those times shown are fastest times. There were others which were slower, suggesting a heavier train or less power (or pathing issues).

    Regardless, the gaps between the fastest real life scheduled running times and the SoS scheduled running times are huge. To put it into context, the current (2022) scheduled running time from Crewe to Lime St, with one stop, is 36 minutes. That's with a high-powered Pendolino which can go faster around curves due to its tilt capabilities, 125mph maximum speed and much improved braking characteristics, on a route with significantly enhanced line speeds. SoS expects us to do it in just 2 mins more with a steam train on 1950s infrastructure.

    It seems incredibly unlikely that DTG wouldn't even have looked at a timetable from the period and checked the running times were roughly right. In fact, I think on one of the streams it was even mentioned that they did look at an appropriate timetable.

    I have a horrible feeling I'm missing something obvious here and I'm about to make myself look stupid posting this, but why do the SoS timings seem to be so far out from reality?

    Also, as a sub-question: has anyone else found the timings on the fast trains to be achievable, while complying with all line speeds? If so, any tips on how to do it?
     
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  2. argh.bailey

    argh.bailey Member

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    Not even close to achievable even when driving it like you stole it, never mind about realistically. The more I have played the more irritating this has become, I started off assuming that it would just take practice & skill and the eventually I would be able to hold the timetable. Then you discover that there was never any hope of that. It has become much more enjoyable to just ignore the timetable and drive normally.

    I do wonder how many players this puts off and discourages and they eventually give up, not sure about others but for me not being able to keep to time is in a way the game saying, 'you didn't do that well'. That's all fine if you can improve and master it, but the unachievable times is just a kick in the 'cylinder drains'
     
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  3. Lamplight

    Lamplight Well-Known Member

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    Which translates to: “We took the start times from the real timetable and had all other timings auto-generated by the AI as that’s quicker (i.e. cheaper) than entering all the timings manually.” Right now, the only way to get a realistic timetable is getting Joe to do it.
     
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  4. redrev1917

    redrev1917 Well-Known Member

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    That was my biggest issue with Arosa until the update and why I didnt bother running it. I havent brought SoS but the more I read about it the less inclined I am to buy even at a discounted price.
     
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  5. AirbourneAlex

    AirbourneAlex Well-Known Member

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    I get the feeling they didn't have enough time to properly flesh out the timetable, which is a shame because a good timetable really makes a route come to life. Service variety is good, but service frequency and AI-only trains really lack, along with shunting in yards.

    On a side note, does the AI itself keep to time? I tried riding one of the Manchester to Liverpool Lime Street stoppers and the train was pausing at each station for around 4 or 5 minutes (usually you would expect 1 or 2 minute stops?).
     
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  6. theorganist

    theorganist Well-Known Member

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    I have noticed AI trains often departing stations late when I have been in passenger mode. I really think it is a poor show if they have used AI timings for the timetable, it erodes away at the realism of it as a simulator.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2022
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  7. stujoy

    stujoy Well-Known Member

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    The timetable really should have been made manually for this route with realistic timings from the era. It’s not as if there is a huge variety in the passenger runs. I’ve noticed the AI trains reaching line speed far too easily so it is no surprise that the auto timings are not achievable by the player. There are some services where priority is given to the wrong train as well but that’ll be a separate issue. Express trains shouldn’t be held for ten minutes to wait for a local to pass. Maybe that wouldn’t happen though if correct timings had been used.
     
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  8. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    The use of AI timings for the timetable is simply unacceptable. End of. This practice must STOP.
     
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  9. lcyrrjp

    lcyrrjp Well-Known Member

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    It’s just maddening. They have put SO much work into the route, the scenery, the trains, the sounds - and much of it is very good indeed. Then when it came to the business of typing some times in to make a timetable, they just left it to the AI, didn’t check that what the AI came up with was even vaguely right (a 5 minute cross-reference to a timetable) and made the whole thing unplayable. What a waste of time, effort and resources.

    It’s areas like this where you wonder whether it would be possible to find a way for a community-built timetable to be applied to the route. I know a full route editor is unlikely (and some explanation has been given as to why it’s so difficult) but if we could change certain things like the timetable, it could really free the potential of routes like SOS.

    I think there’d be enough people prepared to put time into something like that if it were possible - I know I would.
     
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  10. Mat_Jam_Ca

    Mat_Jam_Ca Well-Known Member

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    Pure laziness on DTG’s part. Computer generated timetables don’t work and should never be used in the game. It really gets on my nerves - what should be relaxing is quite the opposite.
     
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  11. Mich

    Mich Well-Known Member

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    I know personally I'd sometimes actually speed through certain parts of NTP 40 MPH over the speed limit just to keep on schedule. Realistically that should derail me, but because it's near impossible to derail your train I don't even worry about it. And with how strict the timetable are on the route honestly I think that lost me less points then if I had tried to obey all the rules. It's funny that a game that a game that yells at you for wandering on the tracks also manages to actually encourage obsessed metal chasers to not follow the rules.
     
  12. OldVern

    OldVern Well-Known Member

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    It’s not as if the information isn’t in the public domain. Before release several of us were scrutinising Timetable World. Obviously that doesn’t include ECS, light engine or freight but the timings are clearly there for all to see. Even if it was too onerous to time every train, a template could have been created using one of the real schedules. That’s how we did it in the Control when producing short term schedules, either with pen and paper or latterly the Integrale computer system. Of course we also had to validate against other trains that might conflict with the movement adding pathing time or regulating stops in loops as necessary. It was actually a fascinating process, though often up against it when a freight operator wanted an additional 45 MPH stone train up the Berks and Hants with 30 minutes notice, while at the same time trying to sort out chaos at Oxford or Swindon due to a points failure or signalling redout!
     
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  13. lcyrrjp

    lcyrrjp Well-Known Member

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    It should be said that DTG did correct some of the timings on NTP, after feedback on them being unachievable, so maybe there's hope!
     
  14. Mich

    Mich Well-Known Member

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    "Some" From my experience pretty much every timetable was tight, the Class 101 services in particular, but even stuff like the express services could be a touch hard to keep up with in the Class 40. Granted I did actually enjoy the challenge quite a bit, but it didn't feel realistic based on everything I've heard about 80's BR. A few tweaks to select services can't fix that, the entire thing needs to be rescheduled.

    Also that's only one issue, again the fact that blasting through a speed limit 40 over is even a option is ridiculous. I know it isn't a derailment simulator, but if you're doing something so blatantly stupid the sim should punish you for it.
     
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  15. redrev1917

    redrev1917 Well-Known Member

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    What DTG needs is a cloning device, 10 Joethefish clones would revolutionise the game.
     
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  16. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    Or have Joe train ten proteges
     
  17. graham.haddon

    graham.haddon Member

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    The Spirit of Steam timetables are supposed to be based on real ones. But as you say the timings are far to strict. The same can be said for the stopping services with the 143 on Dresden-Chemnitz
     
  18. graham.haddon

    graham.haddon Member

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    I'm sure I recall Matt saying in a Preview that the timetables are based on 1958 timetables. Computer generated timetables should not really be being used at all I would have thought.
     
  19. Lamplight

    Lamplight Well-Known Member

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    Which translates to …
     
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  20. theorganist

    theorganist Well-Known Member

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    That actually might not be that unrealistic as the class 40's were considered underpowered, certainly compared to the class 45/47. Although the loads in NTP aren't exactly heavy! I don't think by 1983 the class 40 would have been regularly booked traction for Newcastle to Liverpool services as they were very much in decline by then.

    Hopefully they will amend the SOS scheduled times, it seems sometimes DTG are on the verge of something really excellent then manage to trip with with fairly minor detail and errors which collectively have a big impact on the experience they are trying to purvey.
     
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  21. lcyrrjp

    lcyrrjp Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the NTP timings are for a 45 (2,500hp) or 47 (2,580hp). A 40 only has 2,000hp so you’d expect it to struggle on those timings.

    I find the NTP timings about right. Comfortable with a 45/47. Possible with a 40 but you have to work it hard.

    The SoS timings might be possible with a rocket ship…
     
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  22. Mich

    Mich Well-Known Member

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    Even so I feel like the schedule would have a couple of minutes more leeway then it does in the sim. I will say that at least those services do have some degree of leeway so that they don't feel completely unfair, even with the 40, the 101 services not so much.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2022
  23. fakenham

    fakenham Well-Known Member

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    Interesting observation,does this infer that there might be a bit of randomisation in the timetable mode meaning a slightly different run for the player train?
     
  24. theorganist

    theorganist Well-Known Member

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    It could do, but I would have assumed that would be the sort of development they would be making a bit of noise about.
     
  25. lcyrrjp

    lcyrrjp Well-Known Member

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    It would certainly be a big step forward, but I haven’t seen any evidence of it so far. From what I’ve seen every run is still the same every time - but that is on a fairly small sample of runs I’ve repeated.
     
  26. redrev1917

    redrev1917 Well-Known Member

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    I could have sworn I've seen randomisation on some runs, I quite often do a run with plenty of yellows etc that I think would make a good video. But then when I switch profiles and do it again O get a cleaner run. Always put it down to just starting a fraction later/earlier or that (on German routes) an AI train has had a substitution on one of the runs which could account for it. Or perhaps (more likely) it's just my imagination
     
  27. lcyrrjp

    lcyrrjp Well-Known Member

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    It’s surprising what a difference exactly where you place your train makes to the signal aspects you see. I often drive schedules from the (brilliant) ‘Awesome TSW2 Service Mode Runs’ thread and get no signal checks at all, because I observed the schedule and kept the train in path, whereas the author of the post ran to line speeds and the full capability of the train until seeing cautionary aspects. Either is fine, of course, but it gives very different results.

    I’d imagine that SoS tends to result in more variation between the speeds achieved by different players, because of the need to manage boiler pressure, with the train being less often at line speed. That gives the potential for it to feel as if there’s more variation between different runs - but of course, they do need to correct the schedules first to see those benefits.
     
  28. james64

    james64 Well-Known Member

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    Or a more powerful LMS loco like a Duchess, Princess Royal or Royal Scot.

    My first non stop run from Crewe to Liverpool had me arriving around 5 minutes late, and I didn't exactly hold the loco back. I did wonder if the reason for my late arrival was because this timetable was created with Class 7 or 8 engines in mind, but with the information on this thread it seems that the whole thing is
    AI generated. I'll never understand why DTG put so much effort into some things and yet half- a*** others.
     
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  29. lcyrrjp

    lcyrrjp Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that the real 1958 timetable times quoted in the first post are for Class 7 or 8 locomotives. So strictly for a Jubilee the times should actually be slower still (for an equivalent load).
     
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