TSW4: The Fife Circle Line: Edinburgh–Kirkaldy & Dunfermline


Travel through Fife, over the Forth Bridge and see the Firth of Forth!


The Fife Circle Line: Edinburgh–Kirkaldy & Dunfermline has been a long-awaited one, mainly for one outstanding feature of the journey: the magnificent Forth Bridge, opened in 1890 and still handling up to 200 trains a day!

The smart 170 drives extremely well.

The Fife Circle Line is the local rail service just north of the Scottish Capital Edinburgh. The 52-mile route links the towns of South Fife and the coastal towns along the Firth of Forth, before heading to Edinburgh where it terminates. Not strictly a “circle” route it's a point-to-point service that reverses at the Edinburgh end, and has a large bi-directional teardrop-shaped loop at the Fife (North) end. For some reason the inland section that branches at Inverkeithing to Rosyth, Dunfermline, Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, Cardenden and rejoins the coastal line to Markinch at Glenrothes with Thornton, is barely used at all.

The mighty Forth Bridge, looking chilly with the road bridge in the background.

The Class 170 SCR DMU in Scotrail blue is the only train included, but it's a delight to drive, with smooth power and brakes applied via a combined power/brake lever. It has various modern features including auto announcements, which seem to work for the most part, which is nice, but the lady who does them takes a while to speak after the tone and sounds like a rather disinterested Kelly Macdonald.

The coastline is very pretty.

The Class 385 SCR EMU also gets layered in if you have the Edinburgh–Glasgow DLC, with 67 umm… services on the electrified inland mainline section. It may seem churlish to complain about layered services, but most are ridiculously short runs a mile and a half into Edinburgh Waverley station from Haymarket (or vice–versa) lasting only 5 minutes or so, and at their longest only go as far as Linlithgow, 15 miles away, which is obviously disappointing–as is the seemingly auto-generated and/or slapped together scenery that pokes you in the eye in some places.

Possibly worst of all, I was disappointed to see that the centrepiece of the entire route, the Forth Bridge, drew in its entire top section late as I approached it from the south. The mighty stone arch is there as soon as you'd expect to see it, but the massive main steel structure gets drawn in awfully late. There's no problem once you're on it, you can see the entire bridge with the free cam or photo mode, and you can see it from North Queensferry station when approaching from the northern side, so I'm not sure what causes this draw distance aberration, but I hope Rivet fix it.

Developers Rivet have done yet another reasonable, if not amazing job. The route looks fine for the most part, the Forth Bridge looks amazing once you're on it, but the lighting and the textures don't look as good as some of the other recent DLCs. I was disappointed to see the Firth of Forth was flat as a pancake, with no effort at a wave effect lapping at the shore, which is odd as Rivet did lapping waves way back on TSW2 on West Cornwall Local's coastline. A lack of waves and texture glitching are the least of the problems we found though, and one of the 385's services (5R29: Glasgow Queen Street – East Field Depot) doesn't even have any scenery! Clearly not tested by anything other than "autotest" without a human QA tester ever going anywhere near it, this sort of thing simply isn't good enough for our favourite sim.

So you've probably gathered, Fife Circle is a real maschle (I'm told it's a Scottish word for 'mixture' or 'muddle'). Spectacular landmarks like Edinburgh Waverley Station, Murrayfield Rugby stadium and of course the Forth Bridge are let down by miles of scenery that frankly, looks like it came straight out of TSW 2020, not TSW4. TSW has always concentrated the detail where it matters, on the trains, and the detail levels swiftly diminish as you get away from the track, but Fife Circle really isn't up to the standard of recent routes. The route really needed some goods/freight traffic and shunting for variety, and maybe the HST or some railtours with classic diesels and steam locos too, and their omission is a bit of a shame. All in all, Fife Circle feels rather incomplete for a full price DLC. 

Update: I'm delighted to report that an update fixed the pop-up on the Forth Bridge and added some layers in the form of 10 railtours for the Flying Scotsman, the LMS Jubilee and the Class 40.

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