S-Bahn Zentralschweiz: Luzern-Sursee is the latest route by Rivet Games for TSW2 (Train Sim World 2). It runs 15.5 miles (25km) from Luzern to Sursee, which is located at the northern end of Lake Sempach.
If you were concerned that Luzern-Sursee might be a bit of a 'plod' like Rivet’s other Swiss route Arosaline, then worry not, with the RABe 523 reaching speeds of 160kph (99.4mph) it's more like a Rapid Transit S-Bahn route, only with better scenery. Zentralschweiz: Luzern-Sursee features S-Bahn and RegioExpress commuter services which each provide very different styles of gameplay.
As you'd expect the RABe 523 EMU is a beautifully modelled train, and a very nice multiple unit to drive without any safety systems on, and with them on feels like one of the most advanced, safe trains on TSW2. The air brakes are powerful and responsive but you can easily control the train with the combined throttle/brake lever which controls the dynamic brakes (these use the train's traction motors to control braking.)
There are some steep grades (as you'd expect on a Swiss route) but although you climb from Luzern to Sursee it's far from mountainous and the RABe is powerful enough and the brakes responsive enough that you don't really notice them unless you're coasting.
The RABe 523 features the ETCS safety system which advises the driver of the required braking curve to keep within limits by having a blue dot on the outside of the speedometer display move dynamically to the recommended speed for the section you're in. In conjunction with the V-Soll lever (which keeps the RABe 523 running at the max speed that you set for that zone) the train feels very safe without nagging or being too intrusive. It's more "advisory" than DB's (German) train's LZB system, which loves to just slam the brakes on whenever you blink.
Pressing 8 (level STM which includes the Integra Signum system), 9 (level 0) and 0 (level 1–the highest) on the dashboard computer screen and then confirming the actions with the large ETCS acknowledge key sets the level of supervision. If this sounds stupidly complicated then worry not, it’s just a way of turning on various systems with a generic computer display. It’s a good idea to do a run with each individual system turned on so you can discover for yourself what they do, when they do it, and if you want that much help/interference. I have to say I found it hard to keep to the timetable without safety systems on a few services, and impossible with them on.
You are alerted by the Integra Signum safety system when you pass a distant signal displaying a warning. The safety system lamp will light up yellow accompanied by a bleep, this must swiftly be acknowledged or the brakes will automatically be applied.
From the first outing Luzern–Sursee is clearly a good-looking route loaded with detail, but this sometimes seems to affect the frame rate, even on the Xbox Series X. You'll also probably be surprised that you can only see one mountain in the distance, which seems odd in a route set in Switzerland. I presume we can blame the TSW2 game engine’s disappointing draw distance for this.
Closer to home we saw some horrendous glitching underneath the mass of catenary between the depot and the station at Luzern during a Timetable Service/Journey called Slippery Season, and the fact that you either can't hear the train's horn or it works intermittently is also obviously a glitch. When you drive a night time service you'll also find that you can see virtually nothing at all, due to a combination of poor headlights, little or no ambient light from trackside objects and a windscreen that's far too tinted. To be fair, all TSW2 night running looks too dark to me, so I think it's a limitation of Dovetail's game engine or Unreal 4.
A few services end in a most unsatisfactory way by telling you to Unload Passengers—unlock doors, then immediately close the doors and just leave you sitting there for 30 seconds or more wondering if you've done something wrong… it may be set in Switzerland but Polish–that's what this route is lacking.
Many services also seem to hold you at a station so long that it's impossible to keep to the schedule (this is when you're supposedly waiting to unload/load the sparse or non-existent passengers), making a gold medal rating seemingly impossible. This isn't the first time Rivet has messed up timetables though, so maybe they'll sort the dodgy ones out in an update.
At a price of £19.99 (£17.99 with Game Pass) Luzern–Sursee seems reasonably priced, but the shortness of the route, the single train type, a lack of freight trains and a general feeling that it could have been much longer and more polished affect my feelings about the route strongly. Luzern is a large, busy station and Sursee seems a strange place to end a route, with a SPAD-inducing red light taunting you just 10 metres beyond the station. This makes it feel a lot like Rivet ran out of time, or money, or interest in the project.