I often meet people who inform me that being a train driver would be a lifelong dream for them. There is no denying that most of us as kids always looked at these gigantic chunks of metal hurtling down railway lines as something pretty special. Railway enthusiasts across the globe dedicate pretty much their entire spare time to observing different types of traction, station, and the tiniest details of specific trains. Their admiration often converts to pining for a career on the railway. These opportunities are so sought after it is difficult to secure a job with a train operating company, let alone become a driver.
What many won’t know about me is that my day job is on the railway. I’ve been working with Great Western Railway for seven fantastic years so far, I am on the verge of starting training to become a real-life train driver. Now I will admit I never joined the railway wanting to be responsible for transporting passengers by physically being the main man at the front end. But I am about to embark on the pinnacle of my career by becoming a train driver. Whilst the salary is absolutely out of this world, it comes with huge responsibility and an eye for concentration.
Train Sim World 2 enters Xbox Game Pass a year after launching across several platforms. After the roaring success of the first installment which accumulated over a million players over time, how does this one convert you may ask. What we learnt from the first title was that there are a few base locations and trains to choose from. Extending the experience to even more variance across the globe with more to do means purchasing DLC. Train Sim World 2 is no different and you’ll have three options to choose from on starting the game.
Seeing the sights
The first option is Sand Patch Grade. Featuring the AC4400CW, GP38-2, and SD40-2 locomotives this route has been authentically recreated in intricate detail allow you to take on the role of preparing, shunting, and hauling huge trains across the undulating route. Cutting through the remote Allegheny Mountains it drops over 1000 feet over a 20-mile stretch, making it one of the steepest railroad grades in the US. Thanks to mountainous terrain some interesting engineering solutions were required, these include the infamous Sand Patch Tunnel and the horseshoe curve, favourite’s amongst Railfans.
Secondly, you land yourself in Germany to explore the Köln – Aachen high-speed railway. This is a 70km stretch of the Trans- European transport network. With Line speeds of up to 250 km/h, a separate track has been added on over half of the route, running parallel to the existing track. This ensures the swift international services with the ICE 3M is not held up by the busy local S-Bahn services and can capitalise on their incredible top speeds.
The route is steeped in history, from its heavily debated original concept to the landmarks and bridges making up the surrounding landscape. Each has been given the attention to detail required to accurately bring them to life in Train Sim World 2 and allow you to immerse yourself in the route. As you leave Aachen you are presented with the wonderful Burtscheid Viaduct, further along, the line you travel through the historic triangle truss Dreigurtbrücke, and more as you journey to a panoramic view of the Köln skyline including the beautiful cathedral and famous Köln Hauptbahnhof.
Last but not least, get ready to visit the world-famous London Underground network. You will have the pleasure of driving the iconic Mark II 1972 stock through the Bakerloo line. Sporting the famous red, grey, and blue livery synonymous with the London Underground. This has been in service for nearly 50 years and is instantly recognisable down to the smallest details like the fabric on the seats.
The Bakerloo Line is 14.4 miles long and features 25 unique stations, from Elephant & Castle in South London to Harrow & Wealdstone in the North West of the city. It covers many of London’s iconic landmarks and famous streets like Waterloo, Piccadilly Circus, Baker Street, and more. There are 10 over-ground and 15 underground stations to discover and the various Timetable Services and Scenarios in Train Sim World 2 will take you on a tour of these as you explore the full line.
Put your concentration cap on!
Each scenario introduces you to the area in the same manner. It will present you with learning the basics of looking and walking around, interacting with doors, and the control system of the front cab of each train. Think of this as a tutorial if you will. You will have your handheld for a short period of time and gently eased into driving. Then before you know it, you are responsible for being a passenger service. You’ll be stopping and calling at stations on the route along with manning the safety of opening and closing the doors. Your actions will need to be fast, nimble, and precise as time management is key on a rail network. In real life train operating companies incur fines for delay minutes through the fault of their logistics and staffing.
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. You’re going to make mistakes and get it wrong. Dovetail Games have done extremely well with the accuracy and the driving mechanics being true to life. Speeding through a red signal in the real world will likely cost you your job. Here, you are punished by starting from the beginning again. Failing to call at a station will result in the same penalty, although approach too slow and you’ll have a late-running service. These are quite frequent in the UK due to an aging infrastructure. So make it your mission to be a top staff member and class A driver.
Realism is well on the rails here!
Train Sim World 2 is realistic in every area of the game. Locations are true to life and extremely accurate, the decor of the interior of these services and all the buttons, controls, and operation side of running a train is spot on. It is a steep learning curve to get right, but as with anything practice makes perfect. Graphically the game is very well presented in comparison to the first entry on Xbox. Admittedly I played on Xbox Series X so probably experienced this at the optimum performance. As someone who works on the railway, I can tell you that the sound effects are all true to life. From the safety tones from within the driver’s cab to the hustle and bustle at stations, every box is ticked in terms of audio. Whilst the visuals aren’t mind-blowing, you have to appreciate the scale and how it appears on a console versus a PC.
I perhaps enjoyed Train Sim World 2 due to the fact it is literally what I do as a day job but I do feel this will still target a very niche audience. Whether you’ve always dreamt of driving a train or just want to give it a go for a bit of fun, you won’t find another game more natural feeling and realistic. I do feel though that the content on offer in the base package is minimal if you were to purchase this. There are a plethora of DLC packages rolling out as we speak, however, each costs almost as much as the game itself and can work out very costly. However whilst the core game offers is on Xbox Game Pass it is worthy of a download to see if you like it. The fractured content may put people off but understandably a lot of time, research and detail go into every nook and cranny.