Let's start the review with the star of the show and the only train that comes with the route; the distinctive BR Class 323 'Hyper Networker', which looks very smart in its Northern Railway white & blue livery. This unit feels right at home on the shuttle service of Manchester’s Glossop Line and its frequent stops. The Class 323 is an EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) that will be familiar to many, and especially owners of the Birmingham Cross City DLC for Train Sim World 3 that was released last year. An enjoyable drive, the 323 purrs along and has responsive throttle and brakes–and a great sounding horn!
The Glossop Line: Manchester-Glossop & Hadfield is a compact commuter route with several sections of single-line track, so you'll often need to change ends, shutting down one cab and trotting to the other, either via the interior gangway or hopping out and running down the platform. Shuttling between Dinting, Hadfield and Glossop will keep you on your toes-well, keep your avatar on their toes...
The Glossop Line is a bit of a relic–a surviving part of the old Woodhead Line that connected Manchester and Sheffield, which now terminates at Hadfield. As you whizz by you'll notice there are a couple of disused and overgrown stations, and the eagle-eyed will spot some of the electrical catenary gantries from the original 1950s electrification program, still carrying the modern AC lines. What’s left of the Woodhead line and its infrastructure isn't insubstantial, starting with stations at Manchester Piccadilly in the west, through Ardwick, Ashburys, Gorton, Fairfield, Guide Bridge, Hyde North, Flowery Field, Newton for Hyde, Godley, Hattersley, Broadbottom, Dinting (where the track splits to end at Hadfield or Glossop), all of which are still used today.
A working GSM-R (I think it stands for "Global System for Mobile Communications-Railway") and being able to play as a guard have been often–requested features. The GSM-R kind-of works, but lacks several real features and frankly, I don't use it. In the single guard mode scenario (titled "On Guard") you'll be responsible for opening the doors, checking tickets and making sure idiot passengers don't stand near the edge of the platform. The "Guard Mode" feels like a bit of an afterthought, is a bit rough around the edges and could do with some more interaction options with passengers, but the basic idea is sound, especially if TSW ever gets a co-op mode.
The Lancashire & Derbyshire countryside and several towns and industrial areas are well-modelled, and when you're looking around you'll find that the route has a full set of collectibles as a fun diversion, with route maps and tourist posters to replace, newspaper racks to restock and planters to refill–all tasks I'm sure real train drivers willingly do...
Owners of certain other DLCs will get some added services layered in, we think Northern Trans Pennine, Tees Valley Line, Spirit of Steam, Midland Main Line, Southeast High Speed all add layers (see screenshots below to see which locos/units we had added.)
At under 20 miles in length the Glossop line is a shortish and rather limited route, but it's a nicely detailed and interesting one to drive, and is priced at £19.99, considerably less than the usual RRP (which will hopefully start a trend). You can also get 10% off if you own the Birmingham Cross-City route (note: this offer ends 31st July 10:00 BST), It's also worth considering that many services take 30-ish minutes to complete, which is a much more suitable length for many of us TSW3 drivers than 2-hour long-hauls.