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Birmingham X-City South - Route Information and Motive Power

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Birmingham Cross-City South
The Birmingham X-City South route will boast many of the features of the real line. These include the various styles of bridges found along the length of the route, the various tunnels represented accurately, as well as the station buildings, trackside signs and infrastructure. The route will also feature some of the most advanced catenary yet to appear in a BVE route.

Services on the X-City are operated by the Class 323 25kV AC EMU, and Steve Green is working on an updated version of his Class 323 for the route. These units have remarkably swift acceleration and braking characteristics, and these are necessary to keep to the unforgiving timetable...

As with Watford Junction to Milton Keynes Central, various types of train will be seen along this route; including other Class 323 EMUs, HSTs, Class 47's, Class 66s, Class 150s, and Class 170 'Turbostars'. And at Birmingham New Street, anything could turn up!

Route Variations

The route will available with the same variations as WJ-MKC, however the following expanded list of variations come as standard with the Cross-City initial release:

  • Summer conditions
  • Winter, Snow conditions.
  • Summer, Dusk - Night using Bryan Dudley's "GLE" technique
  • Summer, "Midnight ECS" - Returning empty stock to New St. with floodlit engineering works for example
  • Summer, Dawn - Early morning run into New St. with intersting trains along the route.

Also, the following timetable and motive power options will be available:

  • Class 323 EMU diagram (Present Day)

Motive Power

Class 323 25kV AC EMU

An updated version of the Class 323 EMU, courtesy of Steve Green (Train Sim Central)

The Class 323 is a 25kV AC electric multiple unit, built between 1992 and 1993 by Hunslet-Barclay in Leeds. These are 3 car units and are capable of reaching 90 mph. Equipped with 3 phase AC traction motors, these units exhibit distinctive motor sounds; and can accelerate and brake very rapidly. Services on the X-City are exclusively operated by the 323's, and they are also found operating throughout the electrified West Midlands rail network between Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Walsall. The units also serve Stafford, Crewe and Manchester.

Detail Levels and 'Feature Lists'

Here are the various 'detail levels' described. The Cross-City is a demanding route which features far more detail than Watford Junction to Milton Keynes, so a fast PC is recommended to get the most from it.

The route is geared towards higher end PC's with GeForce cards, however the Standard and Low Detail versions should allow those with slower hardware to at least run the route. Regardless of processor speed, 128 MB of RAM is recommended, as well as a video card with at least 16MB of video RAM - to be honest, 32-64 MB is preferred. Birmingham New Street station is very complex, even without much of the detail included - therefore this part of the route may not perform well on slow machines regardless of the detail level.

The Cross-City South is designed for BVE2 exclusively - entirely written in the newer CSV file format.

'High Detail'

  • For 1GHz+ machines, 128-256MB RAM, GeForce2/3 or Voodoo5 class graphics card required.
  • Very high detail catenary - the wires 'sag' between the OLE supports, and 'zig-zag' across the track, throughout the length of the route. All wires run straight from support to support, without curving with the track, regardless of the distance between the supports - very realistic and looks just like the real thing. Fully authentic overlaps are now included. The route uses large transparent textures to represent the wires, so a graphics card capable of loading textures up to 1024x128 pixels is required (e.g. GeForce2/3, Voodoo5 etc).
  • 'Rolling Ground Terrain' - features near-constantly varied ground and embankment/cutting height.
  • High tree density throughout the route - many more trees feature than in WJ-MKC.
  • Detailed and realistic trackwork - featuring "smooth curves", 3D rails, details such as pandrol clips or chairs, point motors, flange lubricators and catch points
  • All bridges found on the real line are re-created prototypically along the route.
  • Prominent lineside buildings are included, including well known landmarks such as Cadburys, New Street signal box and the Rotunda.
  • Many lineside signs are included, with both 3D objects and BVE markers or text descriptions - these include permanent and temporary speed restrictions, advance warning boards, signal ID plates (controlled and uncontrolled signals), mileposts, and gradient posts. Due to feedback received after WJ-MKC's release, more warning is also given for upcoming stations and speed restrictions.
  • Fully working BVE signalling system, with near prototypical signal operation (within BVE limitations)
  • AWS magnets and 'digital AWS' sound effects.
  • Highly detailed signal objects, with 'flashover' protection cages, ladders and signal ID plates.
  • The popular 'Passing Train' sound effects, as found in WJ-MKC.
  • A wide variety of track types, and accompanying sounds. The ride quality also varies depending on the local track conditions.
  • Realistic station buildings and details, such as seats, lamposts, stop signs and so-on.
  • Photo-realistic tunnel portals, and correctly shaped/proportioned tunnel walls.
  • The distinctive retaining walls found on the approaches to New Street are accurately represented.
  • Several types of appropriate traction and rolling stock will be seen along the route, all correct for the line - including Classes 323, 150, 170, 37, 43, 47, 66, 86 and 87.

'Medium Detail'

  • For 800 MHz+ machines with good 3D accelerators (GeForce2 for example). 128MB RAM required.
  • Effectively the 'High Detail' route, without the extra catenary details - if the High Detail route causes any pausing on a fast machine, use this version instead.

'Standard Detail'

  • Exact details to be announced - will probably be similar to the 'Medium Detail' route, but with no registration arms fitted to catenary headspans, and with fewer trees and slightly less station detail.

'Low Detail'

  • Exact details to be announced - likely to be the 'Standard Detail' route, but with very few trees and simplified stations.

Anthony Bowden, 2001-2002

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