Experience this classic route that spans from Blackpool North in the West over to Preston situated on the West Coast Main Line in the East and down to Ormskirk in the South during what was the lines most interesting period with busy and diverse operations.
You can choose between a wide variety of locomotive diagrams including express, local and regional passenger, alongside extensive true-to-life freight workings experiencing locations ranging from suburban areas to industrial scenery to picturesque countryside as well as stunning views of the holiday destination of Blackpool, with its popular Pleasure Beach and the dazzling lights of the Blackpool Tower during the 1986 summer holiday season, although the year long timetable includes Summer and Illumination Specials and Railtours for you to experience.
The total track length of the route is 48 miles, also included is the secondary single line to Blackpool South from Kirkham & Wesham and the Burn Naze freight branch (formerly known as the Fleetwood line) which runs from Poulton-le-Fylde to Thornton power station.
Using period route maps and accurate elevation data, the route boasts a wide variety of iconic signal box designs and an interesting mix of conventional UK colour light and upper-quadrant semaphore signalling in conjunction with single-line and dual-line operations.
The route includes sixteen detailed stations. These include Preston, which features the old Mail Bridge connection, and Blackpool North with its eight platforms and a large array of semaphore signals which is in stark contrast to the run-down Blackpool South. Due south is Ormskirk station where the end of the line is marked by a train stop as literally the track ends. To the south of the Train stop is the northern end of the electrified 3rd rail track that originates from Liverpool. Also featured are the disused stations at Burn Naze and Thornton for Cleveleys which are locations for the player to explore. All the stations have a multitude of period-correct clutter and signage to provide the correct mid-80’s atmosphere.
A wide variety of route-specific custom assets such as bridges, buildings and track-side clutter mean that the route is very recognisable to those who are familiar with it and provides a highly immersive environment.
The included Class 142 DMU, Class 47/4 Diesel Locomotive, 08 Diesel Shunter, Passenger coaches and TEA Tank Wagons give you a very wide variety of driving experiences via the extensive, true to life, full, real world 24-Hour seasonal timetable with over 250 drivable services ranging from local, express and freight workings to summer extras and shunting operations plus numerous Ai workings to give a very authentic feel.
The signal boxes at Blackpool North No.2, Salwick and the disused St. Annes have authentic interiors modelled that you can enter and watch the various services drive past you.
Included are Tutorials covering learning the basics for the Class 142, Class 08 and Class 47/4, five varied scenarios, five types of collectables in 100 locations for you to find, two Mastery challenges, three Achievements to gain and 24 hours of Journeys to drive along with the ability for you to include in the route other compatible add-ons that you own* (see list below) making Blackpool-Preston-Ormskirk a unique driving and visual experience.
Compatible add-ons that can be used with the route as of 21st August 2023:
If you have any of the below add-ons in your library, the Blackpool-Preston-Ormskirk route timetable will call on the appropriate Locomotives and rolling stock from these to allow you to enjoy a fuller timetable experience. Note! These are not required for Blackpool-Preston-Ormskirk to operate, they are optional add-ons that if you own them will give you a more authentic experience:
Tees Valley Line: Darlington - Saltburn-by-the-Sea Route Add-On for the Class 101 DMU and PCA and HEA wagons.
West Cornwall Local: Penzance - St Austell & St Ives Route Add-On for the Seacow and Turbot wagons.
Northern TransPennine: Manchester - Leeds Route Add-On for the Class 45 "Peak" Diesel locomotive.
Spirit of Steam: Liverpool Lime Street - Crewe Route Add-On for the LMS Stanier 8F Steam locomotive, Mk1 Coaches, 16t Mineral Wagon and 20t Brake van.
BR Heavy Freight Pack Add-On for the Class 40 Diesel locomotive.
BR Class 31 Loco Add-On.
BR Class 20 'Chopper' Loco Add-On.
48 Mile route from the holiday town of Blackpool in the West over to Preston on the West Coast Main Line in the East and down to the unique Ormskirk in the South
Based in 1986
Class 142 ‘Pacer’ DMU in British Rail (BR) Provincial livery
Class 08 ‘Gronk’ Shunter in BR Corporate Blue livery
Class 47/4 Diesel locomotive in BR Corporate Blue livery
Mk1 BG coaches in BR Corporate Blue and Grey livery
MK2a FK and TSO coaches in BR Corporate Blue and Grey livery
TEA 100T bogie tank wagons
Tutorials covering learning the basic operations for the Class 142, Class 08 and Class 47/4.
Five varied scenarios
5 types of collectables in 100 locations for you to find.
Two Mastery challenges
Three Achievements to gain.
Route has the ability for you to use other compatible add-ons that you own.
24 hours of Journeys
Sixteen highly detailed stations
Many unique landmarks and buildings along the route including the illuminated Blackpool Tower.
Signal boxes at Blackpool North No. 2, Salwick and the disused St. Annes have modelled interiors you can enter.
Extensive, true to life, real world 24-Hour summer timetable with over 250 drivable services and numerous Ai workings
A mix of conventional UK colour light and upper-quadrant semaphore signalling in conjunction with single-line and dual-line operations
Powered by Dovetail Games’ proprietary SimuGraph vehicle dynamics engine and Unreal Engine 4 technology.
19 September 2023
Development Update – Timetable
The Blackpool – Preston – Ormskirk route features a very immersive timetable based around 1986 with 221 drivable services (253 if you own all the DLC listed below) and over 150 Ai services.
Locomotive Hauled services
We all know it wouldn’t be British Rail in the 1980’s without having a ton of Locomotive hauled services and so we’ve used the Working Timetable from 1986 along with extensive research to accurately recreate all services (both Ai and player drivable) as they would have been including which locomotives should spawn on these diagrams (for example a Class 31 wouldn’t spawn on a service from London Euston) and length of services (So the West Coast Mainline diagrams are 11 coaches whilst other trains vary from 7 to 10 coaches). You’ll be able to drive these services from Preston to Blackpool and back on services from London Euston, Stranraer Harbour, Sheffield, and other wild and wonderful destinations. Ai services that run up and down the West Coast Main Line (WCML) have also been included along with sleeper trains, so no matter what time it is, Preston should always be busy with the rumble of sounds of Sulzer or English Electric engines. Every single Locomotive hauled service is drivable without any other DLC but if you own any of the DLC listed below you will be able to drive these locomotives on these services as well as see them on AI services:
• Northern TransPennine: Manchester - Leeds Route Add-On for the Class 45 "Peak" Diesel locomotive.
• BR Heavy Freight Pack Add-On for the Class 40 Diesel locomotive.
• BR Class 31 Loco Add-On.
The Blackpool South line had been the stomping ground for DMU’s since at least the 1970’s with most services being formed by Class 104’s and other types of first generation DMU’s. Class 142 Pacers ended up replacing these units on the Blackpool South to Ormskirk diagrams not long after they ended up in the North. Class 142’s also form all DMU services from Manchester Victoria, Leeds and Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North which you’re able to drive from Preston along with these also being on Ai diagrams to Colne. If you own the Class 101 from Tees-Valley you’re able to drive it on all Class 142 diagrams along with seeing it spawn on the Colne and Blackpool North services.
With Kirkham Tip, Kirkham Civil Engineers Sidings, and the Burn Naze I.C.I works still being operational in 1986, freight wasn’t unfamiliar on the line and diagrams serving all have been recreated with appropriate wagons. Also added are Ai services going to Deepdale, Preston Docks as well as services going up and down the WCML with appropriate wagons for the diagrams. To see all the freight services included you will need the DLC listed below:
• Tees Valley Line: Darlington - Saltburn-by-the-Sea Route Add-On for the PCA and HEA wagons along with the Class 37.
• West Cornwall Local: Penzance - St Austell & St Ives Route Add-On for the Seacow and Turbot wagons.
• Spirit of Steam: Liverpool Lime Street - Crewe Route Add-On for the 16t Mineral Wagon and 20t Brake van.
The timetable features a good number of shunting tasks to do with the Class 08 shunters at both Preston and Blackpool. As an example, at Preston you’ll be picking up coaches from one mail train and shunting them onto another, helping keep Britain’s mail go to the right places in the dead of night. At Blackpool you could be shunting the coaches from passenger trains to allow the locomotives to run-round and form services heading back towards Preston.
We’ve created a railtour called ‘The Preston Docker’ which runs between April and May specifically for users who own the Class 20 DLC. Over the 4 hours which this railtour lasts you’ll visit the delights of Blackpool North, Blackpool South, Ormskirk and even Burn-Naze giving players the chance to explore most areas of the route in a unique way. Another railtour that we have created is for owners of the 8F Steam locomotive from Spirit of Steam DLC. This railtour allows you to drive it in passenger service from Preston to Blackpool North and back between January and March. The railtour also includes light engine moves with the 8F to turn the engine around and the 47 which needs to collect the coaches and store them elsewhere whilst the railtour riders enjoy their 6 hours in sunny Blackpool.
Summer Special diagrams are included which run between June and September. Not only is there additional Locomotive hauled diagrams for you to drive but there’s also a few Class 101 diagrams for you to drive if own Tees-Valley which are formed of 6-10 coaches from places like Stoke to Blackpool North which you’re able to drive from Preston. Of course, included is the famous Blackpool Illumination specials which run between October and December to get people to Blackpool before to view the world famous lights with the trains departing just before midnight to whisk them back home.
And to give you an idea of how busy the Timetable is, below is a timelapse video of movements at Preston Station showing a couple of hours of movements in just four minutes. Below the video you'll find some further screenshots to help paint an even clearer picture of what you can expect to see.
We hope you enjoy this update, your next installment will follow in a couple of weeks time. Thanks for reading.
04 September 2023
Development Update - Stations
The Blackpool – Preston – Ormskirk route includes sixteen stations. In this development update we look at six of the key stations on the route and detail their functions in 1986. Here are the key details for the six stations, underneath all of this you'll find a large selection of screenshots covering all of these stations. There are four shots from each and they run in the same order as the stations are listed here.
We hope you enjoy this update and remember to look out for more of these in the coming weeks.
Preston station is approximately half-way between London Euston and Glasgow Central Stations. The current station in the centre of the city was built in 1880 and extended in 1903 and 1913, at which time it had fifteen platforms, by 1986 this had reduced to eight operational platforms but by no means was Preston a quieter station! In 1986, the year our route is set in, Preston featured six through platforms, with two south facing bays, which were used by trains to Ormskirk and Colne, as well as for shunting of parcels coaches. Platform seven in this era was only used by freight trains and was a glorified goods loop with trains often stopping to change crews and sometimes for longer periods of time as they waited for a path on the busy West Coast Main Line. On the west side of Preston station is the Mail Platform which sees little activity in the middle of the day but come the night it is a hive of activity with a stream of mail trains arriving and departing in both directions. Our Class 08 Shunter is kept busy during the overnight period as coaches are added and removed from trains at regular intervals, giving a totally different feel to the route. No matter what time of day you are at Preston you will find something going on, whether it’s a train for the Fylde Coast, a Pacer waiting to head out of the bay platforms for Ormskirk or a heavy steel train passing through on its way from Scotland, you’ll never find yourself waiting more than a couple of minutes for activity at Preston!
Blackpool's main railway station opened in its present form in 1974, replacing the nearby station on Talbot Road which had first opened in 1846 as Blackpool station. It was renamed Blackpool Talbot Road in 1872 and first rebuilt in 1898. When the station was rebuilt in 1898 there was effectively a separate station at the east end of Queen Street with open 'excursion' platforms for summer use. The excursion platform canopy building was refurbished to become the new main station when the old main station buildings, train shed, and platforms were demolished in 1974. In 1986 Blackpool North had become the only major station in the town. With Blackpool Central Station closed in 1964 and Blackpool South station reduced to a single platform in 1985, it was up to Blackpool North to provide sole service to the summer holiday trains that still visited the Lancashire town into the 1980’s. Luckily Blackpool North retained eight platforms following its rationalisation in 1974, however these were never often really used to their maximum capacity but it was still possible on occasions in 1986 to find five or more trains “on the blocks” together. Whilst you will see the regular procession of services from Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations arriving at Blackpool South, you’ll also find several trains to and from London Euston station whilst in the summer a whole raft of extra holiday trains can be found arriving, bringing holidaymakers from places such as the mining town of Castleford and the potteries of Stoke-On-Trent. Much like Preston you’ll find that Blackpool North sees a station pilot in use, though for different reasons, here it will be found performing shunt release moves to the carriage sidings when a quick turnaround is needed. The Carriage Sidings themselves are always worth viewing as you arrive from Preston, they’ll give you an idea of what locomotives will be working out of town during the afternoon/evening period! Rarely will you find these sidings empty in Summer.
The station was originally named Waterloo Road when it opened in 1903. It handled through trains from Manchester, Liverpool, and London until these were all diverted to Blackpool North in 1970. The street-level booking office and waiting rooms were demolished in 1985. By 1986 Blackpool South was a shadow of its former self, gone were the grand buildings, busy through platforms and character of any kind, leaving only a cold and open station with only a bus shelter to provide protection from the unpredictable Fylde weather! Served by direct trains to and from Ormksirk, beginning a journey at Blackpool South will give you the longest through journey on the route, with the 65 minute services to Ormskirk providing a break from the main line activity. Blackpool South, though a terminus by 1986 was, until 1964 a through station with a junction provided to the direct line between Blackpool Central and Kirkham, once this connection was severed and Central station closed then the writing was on the wall for Blackpool South, especially once the holiday traffic reduced.
Kirkham & Wesham:
The station, originally known just as Kirkham, was opened in 1840. it was rebuilt on the other side of the road in 1890 and later renamed Kirkham & Wesham. 1986 finds Kirkham & Wesham providing an intermediate stop for Fylde Coast services, with an island platform in use, and two “fast” lines avoiding the station, most of the services that stop here are stoppers to or from Blackpool, but you will occasionally find longer distance trains stopping at the station. Kirkham & Wesham is around ½ mile from the Kirkham North Junction where the Blackpool South line diverges west, with the Blackpool North line continuing onwards towards Poulton-Le-Fylde. Until 1964 the line to Blackpool Central also diverged here, giving an idea of how busy the line between Kirkham and Preston would have been in steam days!
The original station was about 400 yards north-east of Poulton-le-Fylde’s current location but after a fatal accident in 1893, when a train took a tight curve too fast just north of the station, the tracks were realigned, and the new station built halfway along the new gentler curve. The old station continued to be used as a goods station until 1968. By 1986 Poulton was an intermediate station with most trains calling outside of the summer holiday extra services. This attractive station, accessed from the Breck Road bridge features an island platform with sizeable buildings and canopies, the platforms themselves can accommodate 13 coaches, though by 1986 the section beyond the road bridge wasn’t used, with Euston services the longest to call. Directly beyond Breck Road bridge is the junction for the former line to Fleetwood, which was truncated to only go as far as Burn Naze during the 1970s. This line sees oil trains in the Blackpool – Preston - Ormskirk route timetable and is a pleasant break from the usual hustle and bustle of the passenger lines.
Ormskirk station opened in 1849. The station consists of a single platform, although before the 1963 Beeching Report and the subsequent restructuring of the rail network there were two main through platforms. By 1986 the Ormskirk line, much like the Blackpool South route was singled, with a passing loop at Rufford, though this only saw occasional meeting of trains. Ormskirk itself features a single platform, split in two, as this is where the electrified Merseyrail route from Liverpool terminates, a simple break in the track and a pair of buffer stops signify this point. A connection between the two lines was still provided in 1986 in the form of a loop, though this saw little to no use and would be removed in the years following. Ormskirk sees services roughly every 90 minutes, with trains running through to Blackpool South, though in peak times there are services from the bay platforms at Preston.
22 August 2023
Welcome to the first of a few Development Updates that we'll be bringing you as we edge closer to the release of our inaugural route for TSW4, the wonderful 'Blackpool-Preston-Ormskirk'.
With this initial set of screenshots we look at a variety of areas along our route, showing off the diverse nature of the different branches, from the rural Ormskirk line to the hustle and bustle of Preston, there's a little bit of everything. These screenshots whilst showing mostly complete sections as ever feature In Development work and may not be final.
If you click on any image you'll be greeted with a more detailed description that should prove useful.
Hopefully this introductory update has served to whet the appetite. Look out for regular updates as we head towards the release date.