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The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway for Trainz: The Final Spike

By John D'Angelo

The Batasia War Memorial.

“Clank”…. That was the sound of the last spike being hammered into the last tie of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway for Trainz. Bill Slack and Peter Pardoe-Matthews took the honors. I was standing far back in the crowd watching the celebration. David Drake was smiling from ear to ear, pith helmet cocked atop his head, Tony Weber cracked open a bottle of Champagne, and Noel Brettoner cut the cake. We held the ceremony at the Batasia Loop War Memorial where David Drake had even modeled the memorial to the last detail.

It’s hard to believe that the crew has finally finished building a full-scale model of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway for Trainz. Bill figured that it had been 31 months since he and Peter first started discussing building the route.

And what a route it is! A full-scale 50+ mile long railway with about 200 baseboards filled with over 2,000 custom items. Running the train non-stop from Panchanai to Darjeeling takes about 4 hours in real time. The group decided to not have the route start from Siliguri because it was just flat, boring terrain from Siliguri to Panchanai. "We wanted to get into those mountains!"

Kurseong Bazaar.

Passing through the Kurseong Bazaar, the impact of those individual custom items really is astounding. The full data size of the route and custom items is just over a gigabyte. All the buildings, people, cars, trees and special textures were created by hand. The DHR steam locomotives and rolling stock were also modeled just for this route, as were special sections of roads, track and embankments. Finally, even the very mountains were modeled to scale from actual maps of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Now they are finished!

The size and scope of this model is too great for just one article, so I am including links to previous articles that described the progress of the route for you to read through, if you would like:

Virtual Railroader DHR Links

2006 Into the Hills of the Himalayas, an Exotic Adventure
2006 The Trainz Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Project: First You Build a Mountain
2006 Bill Slack’s Article on converting DEM files for Trainz
2006 Using SCABS
2006 Meet Franklin Prestage
2007 On the Road to Darjeeling
Additional DHR Links

In addition, The Trainz Darjeeling Hmalayan Railway Project website is filled with screenshots, background information about the DHR and even video files.

The Trainz Drajeeling Himalayan Railway Project Website

Finally, the group has created a new forum dedicated to the project where you will be able to visit and write to the group.

The Trainz Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Project Forum

The route is free, but there are a few items that you need to be aware of.

First, the route with all the custom items is BIG. Bill Slack has broken down the entire package into 5 zip packs of 85-90 megabytes in size for each pack. This number could change if any changes are made. You will need to download and install all of them. If you have a high speed Internet connection the download can be done in a reasonable time, but if you are running a 56K phone line modem the downloads will take a very long time

Second, the route does have a lot of detail so that you will need to have a fast computer system. My computer is a Dell Pentium IV 2.8 GHz with one gigabyte of RAM and using a NVIDIA 5700 video card with 256 MB of RAM. In today’s world this would be considered a middle of the line unit. It can run the model, but does have places where it has trouble keeping up with the load and the video stutters. These areas are usually where the buildings and people are very numerous and packed together.

The route will include sessions to allow you to start running. Bill advised me that the session start-up is unique in that HTML screens are shown in the foreground while the session/map is being loaded in the background behind the HTML. This allows the whole session to begin with all content visible and ready to operate. No operator intervention is necessary as the screens are timed to disappear automatically. [Continue]

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Article and screen shots 2008 John D'Angelo. All rights reserved.

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