Hello everyone! I'm back today on the blog to tell you about a route that caught my attention as soon as it was announced: Schaffhausen - Kreuzlingen, developed by Rivet Games and available since Friday, March 20th for a little more than 30 euros on Steam.
To put it in context, it is a single-track railway of 46 kilometres located in north-eastern Switzerland, in the Thurgau region. It forms the western part of the S8 line of the S-Bahn St. Gallen, known as the Seelinie (Lake line), and is operated by Thurbo, a company 80% owned by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). This route stands apart from the other creations of Rivet Games because it is neither touristic nor located in the mountains. The line runs on one side along the northern part of the Swiss Plateau and on the other side along the Rhine and the Untersee - the narrowest part of Lake Constance. It connects Schaffhausen and Kreuzlingen, two cities with less than 40,000 inhabitants, by crossing a mostly rural area.
The route itself is excellently developed. The scenery, both in towns and in countryside, is mastered and fits to reality. The assets laying distance is correct and the atmosphere of this route is successfully rendered, especially when you reach the lake shore, which is very pretty, both in game and in real life. We can particularly feel Rivet Games' experience in creation of landmarks and buildings specific to the route: stations benefit from perfect 3D, high-definition textures and a particular attention to detail, we are far from the empty platforms of the 3CCR for example. Please notice that a bug causes the train doors to open on the wrong side in stations - a problem that I have already patched. This route uses the usual Rivet Games signalling, you may not like the light emitted by the signals that change abruptly depending on the player's distance, but its implementation is very efficient - I'll come back to this when talking about the included rolling stock. The catenary is laid cleanly, even if it doesn't fit completely with reality.
Let's move on to the rolling stock included in this add-on... First disappointment, there is only one power unit included, the RABe 526 2/8 EMU from the Stadler GTW family and built in two series between 2005 and 2013. And now you may be wondering if you've been cheated... Indeed, this EMU already exists on Train Simulator since 2014 and its release by ChrisTrains! However, even if he has modelled the Thurbo livery, the Dutch developer has not implemented the Swiss signalling systems and his GTW Thurbo does not have any advanced feature, unlike its very nice Dutch and German homologues. Consequently, the 526 from Rivet is to date the only truly Swiss GTW in the game.
Rivet has done an excellent job of modeling the train, the exterior as well as the interior is of excellent quality... I even had fun walking around the train in free cam to enjoy the model! However, even if the line is very well optimized, this modeling has a price to pay and can put a strain on the smallest PC configurations... The cab is more polished than ChrisTrains', not only in terms of textures but also in terms of controls, which are placed more realistically - the CT model includes German safety systems, which are obviously not used in Switzerland. Several passenger views are available by navigating with the arrow keys, and they are all very good. In addition, Rivet's engine is very pleasant to drive. Integra and ZUB signalling systems are correctly implemented, the dead man's pedal can be activated and many buttons on the desk are operable. Other features include retractable mirrors, windows that can be opened and a destination display system that can be set in the cab.
The physics of the train, although difficult to handle and a little rough, fits pretty much to reality - taking this train every day to get to school. However, I come to Rivet's weakest point, which didn't change despite complaints about its previous Re 460: the sounds. In motion, the sounds of wheels and air friction are present, but you can clearly feel that a lot of engine and compressor noise is missing. In the cab, this problem is relatively unnoticeable, but in a passenger or external view it becomes disturbing - it seems that the add-on suffers from bugs on this side, let's hope that this will be corrected soon... Another thing that bothers me a little bit, the lack of rolling stock could have been solved by adding different liveries, especially since the company Thurbo is known for its wrap advertising. Unfortunately, only the basic livery is available... Let's hope that the community fixes this problem quickly.
The route is provided with two Railfan scenarios and seven career scenarios, including a driving tutorial. However, the missions are not very diversified due to the lack of rolling stock: there are only passenger services, which is due to the choice of the line itself: the few industrial spurs have not been used in reality for several years. However, some good innovations can be noticed, such as random request stops, train splitting along the way, training scenarios without intermediate stops, etc. Unfortunately, the scenarios do not use real timetables, which many routes are missing and which I think is a shame. The route is also available in Quick Drive mode, where you can choose any departure or arrival station.
Rivet had set itself a great challenge: to make us love a short single-track route and an EMU already existing in TS... Well in my opinion, the gamble was a success! Rivet keeps its skills - excellent modelling and pleasant train - to deliver us once again a mature add-on, despite the GTW's sound problems. To get a better overview of the route, you can watch related videos at the bottom of this article. I take this opportunity to wish you good luck and good health to all of you during these very special times!
To see more...
https://youtu.be/qg0qJ3vDmXw - credit Mavericks Bastelstube (German)
https://youtu.be/5Ax2moNC3As - credit iajer (German)
https://youtu.be/wbEL2khYvTw - credit MrCrrispy
https://www.twitch.tv/videos/572193975 - credit Lus0rius