TSW3: Midland Main Line


WHAT? A game that features Derby, Nottingham and Leicester and it's NOT FIFA?


Train Sim World® 3: Midland Main Line: Leicester - Derby & Nottingham (to use its full, catchy title!) is the latest DLC route for the ever-growing TSW3 network. Stretching 37 miles, the route "does what it says on the tin" and features the Midland Main Line between Leicester to the South, Derby to the West and Nottingham to the East. Forming a sort-of mysterious "Midlands Triangle" junction, the route splits in three directions at Long Eaton.

Midland Main Line has two included trains, the Class 158-2 DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) and the HST Class 43. There are 18 Journeys (10 for the Class 158, and 8 for the HST), 7 Scenarios and 81 Timetabled services (66 for the 158 and 15 for the HST). Both trains are available in the Scenario Planner and the Livery Designer, with many liveries available for both via the Creator's Club from day one.

The BR Class 158-2 EMT Sprinter may not be much of a "looker" or set any speed records, but it drives like a dream, with responsive throttle and brakes. A DMU that's been used all over the UK, the 158 sounds good, and you can clearly hear the turbos spool up and down during acceleration and braking. The horn has a nice tone, but if held too long you can hear the end of the sample–which is a bit naff.

The HST is just about the most iconic British passenger train in the last 50 years, and looks fabulous in its eye-catching red, white, blue & yellow EMT (East Midlands Trains) livery. It's just as fast and stunning to look at as I'd hoped it would be, and drives just as well. The acceleration isn't breathtaking and it seems to take an inordinate amount of time for the brakes to release (40 seconds or so!), but once you're on the move it growls satisfyingly and really flies. To my surprise, there are several spots on the route where you can get it up to its full cruising speed too.

If you own them from other DLC, the Class 66, Class 37/7 EPX and the Class 45/1 BLU get "layered in" with a few extra services. The Class 45 does a couple of railtours, while the 37/7 gets the job of moving out-of-service 375 units and the Class 66 does some Railtours and its RHTT (Rail Head Treatment Train) service.

The three main stations are nicely modelled and the routes trackside detail extends into the distance, but the scenery is rather lacking in landmarks, apart from the imposing cooling chimneys of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station that tower over East Midlands Parkway, and the remarkable castle-like East entrance to the Red Hill tunnel at Thrumpton. I found it a bit strange that the Power Station and the massive DB Cargo UK train repair centre at Toton sidings are both modelled in, but unfinished and unused in the game. A future maintenance and coal hauling update for the route maybe?

The route exhibits a few of TSW3's inherent problems with pop-up and level of detail texture pop that spoils the overall look, whether played on gen 8 or 9 consoles. On my Xbox Series X the game's smooth frame rate stutters occasionally–I'm reliably told it's as the game un-draws scenery. The sound FX hit a hitch sometimes too, but I'm not sure what causes that–let's blame Brexit. The passenger AI seems to have had some work done on it, and they don't wander around aimlessly so much, some stand in groups and many get on and off the trains. Some spawn out of thin air at certain points though, and this is made worse by being in plain view of your driver's position, which isn't exactly immersive.

Back to the trains, and the Class 158, although it drives nicely and we all may be striving for zero emissions, and it may be a relatively clean machine in real life, it has no exhaust smoke! The wipers sometimes don't clear the screen of raindrops either, but if you flick to an exterior camera and back the screen gets reset to clear! These are both little details that I'm sure Dovetail and Skyhook are aware of and will fix at some point, and none of them spoil the gameplay.

Midland Main Line is an important and much-requested route. It would have been nice if it'd been longer, but I say that about many things. It could have used some freight services, but If you have the required DLCs to add the layers there's a bit of variety. I'd rate this route as 'good' but not 'great', but the draw of the iconic HST and the ubiquitous 158 may require that you purchase it–Oh go on, you know you want it!

Thanks to Skyhook Games, Dovetail Games and Lick PR for the review code.