ScotRail Express: Edinburgh - Glasgow is the latest UK Route for Train Sim World 3. It features the iconic Edinburgh–Glasgow via Falkirk High line, stretching 47 miles (77km) with 8 stations in-between the two famous cities. Complete with all recent upgrade works, this makes it TSW3's most up-to-date offering yet. The route will include the BR Class 385 EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) in ScotRail's smart dark blue Saltire livery, in 3 or 4-car sets.
The real thing is built by Hitachi Rail for Abellio ScotRail. TSW3's Class 385 looks superb, and Rivet have certainly learned how to model a train–inside and out. But the very first thing I noticed is how heavy and/or laggy the throttle and brakes feel. The 385 has a CPBC (Combined Power/Brake Controller), so forward is go and back is slow down. These are mapped to the 'R' trigger and RB (right shoulder button) on the Xbox controller. These sluggish controls mean it takes 7 seconds to move the CPBC from throttle notch 4 to emergency brakes! This translates to 45 seconds to go from 100mph to 0. Brake notch 1 seems to do next to nothing to slow the 385, notch 2 will barely start to slow it and notch 3 seems to react slowly, building incrementally to a snatchy stop or painfully slow release if you want to keep moving. Okay, so this may be intentional and even realistic, but it doesn't feel good and doesn't fill you with confidence when driving the 385.
Let's have some more downers, shall we? Once underway, the 385 starts to sound like a A380 jet airliner at as little as 20mph, which again, for all I know may be realistic, but it's also too darned loud compared to the other ambient sound FX, and certainly louder than any similar British EMUs. After a while it started to remind me of the time my windscreen shattered and I had to drive 10 miles home with the wind whistling past my lugholes. The 385 soon had me turning the volume down a notch or two—or four. This is doubly advisable as the warning beeper that activates every time you open or close the doors is also too flippin' loud, and might drive you/the wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/dog/cat/parrot/housemates bonkers on an 'all stops' route. On the positive side the 385's horn sounds fabulous–possibly the best horn sample in TSW yet!
Instead of 'head out' camera options the 385 has an innovative black & white exterior camera on the driver's side, which again, may well be realistic but is about as much use as a chocolate train coupler, and I doubt you'll ever use after the first time as there's no rear-facing option (which would have been useful and cool to use, and is surely what the real thing is for) meaning any reversing manoeuvre will have you clicking to an exterior camera.
There a few tunnels along the route and there is a weird lighting effect as you enter, where the new bloom effect seems to go haywire for a moment and the cab turns light blue! This route has also developed an almost cartoony, over-the-top bloom around the signal lights, which I don't really understand as they looked fine before.
The 385 is the only unit included with the route but the Class 314 is layered in for a couple of services if you have the Cathcart Circle Line and the Class 66 gets one if you have Great Western Express, East Coastway, Southeastern Highspeed or the RHTT 66 DLC.
The 385 has a working Train Monitoring System (TMS) which allows you to change the passenger announcements on the train. Passenger announcements have been a frequent request by Train Sim World fans ever since I've been playing it and this add-on finally sees its debut, albeit in manual, rather user-unfriendly form. The big problem here is that they don't announce automatically so it's a huge fiddle with an Xbox controller to select the announcement you want. If someone at Rivet can explain to me why we get a pointless external camera and close-up view of the switch panel (that's immediately behind the driver's seat and easy to access and zoom in on) but no magnified view of the TMS screen I'd be grateful, but as far as I'm concerned it's just more evidence that few things in TSW get tested thoroughly on console. The TMS's features include the ability to individually open doors as well, so along with the announcements, there's something else to fiddle with during a service.
A thing that many TSW players ask whenever we review a new DLC is 'does Glasgow-Edinburgh have achievements?' Yes, but only 3. However, 5 scenarios and a full timetable of services from 5am till midnight will keep you busy for a while–as long as you don't want much variation in gameplay. We also get collectibles in the form of haggis plushies (yuck!), suitcases with bagpipes inside (yikes!) along with the more usual route maps and posters (yay!)
TSW Tutorials have never been the best but during some instructions the game also tells you to "Set the throttle lever to MAX" when it means "Max" brakes. Hmmm...That's not exactly user-friendly whether you're a veteran driver or a rank n00bie is it?
Rivet's Scotrail: Glasgow-Edinburgh is a good-looking route, I mean, just look at some of our screenshots - but it lacks variation, and due to the problems mentioned above it's difficult to recommend unless you're a huge fan of Scotrail or passenger routes as a whole. The addition of the working TMS and passenger announcements is a good one but until they're easier to use or automated then it's really just fluff. The good news is that many of the issues I mentioned here are being fixed as I write, and none of them are game breakers, they're just QA or "Quality of Life" issues that us gamers are expected to tolerate with just about every release nowadays.