The latest addition to the Train Sim World 3 roster is for the Southeastern High Speed route, the Thameslink Class 700/0 EMU, part of the Desiro City family designed and built by Siemens. The 700 is capable of operating on 25 kV 50 Hz AC from overhead wires or 750 V DC from the third rail, and this duality is featured in-game.
The 700 is a good-looking train, and it's been modelled here with a 'well-used, slightly grubby' look. The bodywork shows flecks of dirt, oil and maybe the odd squished insect. Even the footpads at the base of the passenger doors look well-scuffed.
The driver's cab door has a realistic "two-step" movement and the cab is intricately detailed and brightly lit, but even allowing for its massive windscreen it actually feels too bright even without the cab light on.
A "stepless" (0–100 analogue forward and reverse) combined power & brake handle means the throttle and brakes are all on the one lever, which gives a lot more accurate control than the more common "notched" levers. This makes the 700 simple and accurate to drive. The GSM-R communications radio has limited functionality but the AWS (Automatic Warning System), TPWS (Train Protection & Warning System) and DRA (Driver's Reminder Appliance) all work and have audible notifications when activated.
The interior of the passenger compartments looks very realistic, with its uniquely "open plan" appearance, and I can testify that the seats are extremely slim and not very comfortable, they've been nicknamed "Ironing boards" and likened to torture instruments or sitting on concrete because of the thin, lightweight padding.
We have an outlet on a nearby trading estate that's alarm keeps going off and it sounds just like the oscillating sound a Class 700 makes in DC (third rail) mode! Apparently the sound effect was tweaked from that of a BR 350, which is also a Siemens Desiro unit so sounds almost identical. The sound a Class 700 makes under power in AC mode (pantagraph up) is more of a high-pitched howl and Dovetail used AP Sounds' sample for this, but you'll have to set up your own Class 700 scenario in the planner to use the AC mode on an electrified stretch of track to hear it. We used the Scenario Planner to set up runs on Birmingham Cross-City, Ashford to St. Pancras International on Southeastern High Speed and the Test Center (which is fully electrified.)
A few other sound effects are less impressive and could do with a tweak. While the wipers get noisier when the screen is dry (a brilliant touch), overall they're too quiet, and the horn sound, which also sounds great in very short toots, has an audible click on both tones after less than a second, like you can hear the end of the sample. This may well be something to do with the Xbox's sound chip but it seems sloppy.
The 700 has seven scenarios including 'Desiro City Shattered' which makes you tow a faulty 700 unit to get repaired. This involves coupling two 8-car 700s together to make a very snaky train. The stations on the Southeastern High Speed route aren't long enough to accommodate a 16-car unit but I was disappointed to see that several of the stopping points were wrong for the standard 8-car unit.
The Thameslink Class 700 is a much-requested train, so you probably already know whether you want it or not. At a price of £12.99 (£11.69 with Game Pass) it's a bit more expensive than loco add-ons used to be (isn't everything!?), but either way it's another valuable addition to the sizeable Southeastern High Speed roster, and one that keeps it right up-to-date.