TRANSPORT SIMULATION UK

Train Driver 3 Review


Here is a little information about what was, to many pioneers of the early train sim scene, one of the programmes which first showed what could be achieved in where the author had the visionary will to go the extra distance. Originally programmed for the Commodore Amiga series of computers, the Train Driver series was the work of designer and programmer Paul Robins. Tired of the (then) crude text based British simulations, in 1997 he set out to write a programme that offered a cab view, reasonable sound effects and, of course, a solid driving experience. The result was Train Driver which quickly usurped the other British offerings of the period. In order to run Train Driver 3, you will either need an Amiga computer (hard to find these days!) or a working copy of one of the Amiga emulators for the PC. Advice on obtaining or setting up an emulator is beyond the scope of this article. The author did attempt to convert the programme for the PC but for various technical reasons this proved not possible.

If you are lucky enough to own or track down a copy of the programme you will find a comprehensive selection of UK routes and motive power. You can select your consist and timetable as necessary then start your drive. The graphics display is functional, on a par perhaps with the German Railsim programme. However many of the traction types have cabs and nose views based on the prototype. As you drive down the line there are plenty of visual aids to assist and while the sense of motion is not perhaps as marked as on later sims, the experience is far more convincing than looking at lines of text.


Train Driver 3 Screenshot

The sound support was excellent, with many traction types offering authentic effects, track sound and the bell and horn of the UK AWS system. I can never forget the tingle in my spine the first time I got the emulator working and heard the crackle of a Class 37 exhaust in the PC speakers. One other rather excellent feature which deserves a mention, was use of the Amiga "Annunciator" utility to play Guard's Public Address announcements and other speech elements. No wav files required!

Although a little simplified the physics were excellent, particularly the modelling of the UK AC electric loco tap changer system. As already mentioned above, the signalling and safety systems of the BR network were carefully replicated. Latter versions even featured an interactive Radio Electronic Token Block (RETB) for single lines, the system which replaced the traditional metal token or staff method on many remote British routes in the 1980's. There were even radar speed checks at intervals.

Train Driver was one of the few products to offer a career mode and kept a record of your total mileage together with any falls from grace. Various editors shipped with the programme and it was relatively easy to create routes, define new traction types or even cab masks and sounds.

Regrettably along with several other of the older programmes, Train Driver 3 has kind of fallen off the grid. The author's Home Page for the project no longer exists though it might be possible to find the files kicking around on Aminet or other Amiga abandonware sites. It is a tragedy that future generations will no longer be able to experience the many hours of pleasure that Train Driver 3 could bring, but I hope this short valedictory article will pay respect to Paul Robin's vision and ensure the programme will never be forgotten.

One final note is that Train Driver 3 should not be confused with the Train Driver programme released in 2005 featuring the West Somerset Railway and utilising the Trainz game engine.

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This page created 12/09/07 and last updated 12/09/07.