Monday, March 3, 2014

2014 Updates

Just wanted to drop by with a couple goals for the coming year for my Trainz collection...

Just the other day, I announced that the Tampa Terminal is back on track. The focus this time around is the Winter Haven intermodal yard and trackwork. The route has not seen any substantial work for one year, plus where trackwork has been done, is in dire need of work. Lakeland Jct - 10th Street is done, though, and Auburndale, Knights, Vitis (Lumberton to the portal), Kinder-Morgan, and the rest of WH will follow.

Because the trackwork involves a lot of new signalling, I plan to update my signals big-time. They will hopefully seek a new, individualized script. Such a script will also include options to indicate the particular aspect, ie: for a signal like the northbound absolute signal at 46th street in Miami, one can choose diverging movements will be authorized a Medium Advance Approach as the "clear" signal. (I don't know the through signal yet, think it's Approach). New vaders and cantilevers will be designed. This project should go hand in hand with the Miami Sub and FEC main so they get the optimal signals.

Also I'll probably be putting my SLR to use this time, taking texture shots for a new round of models. In dire need: Tri-Rail stations, railroad crossings, speed signs, buildings, signage, etc. for now. I plan to attempt the MIC Central Station at some point (wait, aren't they supposed to open on Friday?)

Tampa Terminal and the South Florida Mega Route will be given pretty even attention throughout the season. Those routes really have potential to provide for fun operations. Needless to say, they represent corridors that are ever changing and will see traffic increases in the future.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

News Regarding the CSX Tampa Terminal Route

The route I usually like to do in the winter-spring seasons is the CSX Tampa Terminal area from Tampa-Lakeland-Auburndale-Vitis and etc, pretty much CSX operations in the western half of Florida. Since we're getting back to that time of the year I've started to concentrate on it.

One of my conflicting issues with the route, however, is the ever-changing trackwork. Already areas that were modeled between 2011-2012 have changed drastically. Originally, I was going to ignore the changes, but due to the fact that the changes reflect more trains, and it will improve operational realism to do so, I am adding the new changes into the new year.

Key changes include:
  • Siding between Lakeland Junction and 10th Street near Kathleen
  • Siding in Knights
  • Super Siding between Lumberton (1 mile south of Vitis Junction) and Ellerslie (ex. Distant to Dade City)
  • Big improvements to Winter Haven including the new intermodal ramp set to open next year
Expect screens to show up over the Holiday break.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

FEC KWE: 18 Mile Stretch WIP

Very soon, I'll probably continue on either the Tampa Terminal or South Florida Mega Route!
But I do have more progress from the KWE... and for the CSX routes, this may serve as inspiration/ideas for swampy areas like here at MP ~407.

Progress is rolling around the 18 mile stretch, which is dense forest and swamps. It's the tip of the Florida Everglades and the extension runs right through. Today only US1 is there but of course I made the appropriate adjustments in the sim when doing this up.

Here's a shot of an intermediate signal. This is just 500 feet north of the canal bridge that is already complete in the version Nikos released. This used to be a siding but I made instead two stretches of double track at either end so that the 15-20 mile gap between here and Key Largo siding would be compensated and no train would have to wait trivially long for the other to pass.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

FEC KWE: Homestead

Florida City looked to be quite an industrious city back in the Railroad's heyday there. Even though FEC in the end probably ran there at a loss, there were still numerous warehouses open to traffic and it seemed like it could have brought in dollars for the RR. Many warehouses with freight doors still stand there today and the only evidence left of the ROW south of Kendall stands between Palm Drive and Krome, while the rest has been absorbed to that evil busway.

Hence, I took that all into consideration when designing the trackwork for this area. And I am still not done.

There may be provisions for CSX to have switching rights here while FEC is responsible for their Card Sound intermodal ramp down south.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

FEC Key West Extension - Boca Chica Key

I know this is mainly a CSX blog but the FEC route I'm doing of the twist in history is big stuff and I feel adapting it to this blog will be beneficial and not quite off base.

I learned a rather arbitrary history lesson. According to Google Maps, by the arrangement of the tree line, the portion of the railroad does not appear to follow US-1 like the virtual sim does... but it caves into the NAS Key West reserve base.

As such, I am relocating the FEC main back to there. Expect only good out of this; yes I wasted a few days landscaping an interchange with US-1 (that for the most part exists today) but by connecting the railroad to the base, we're opening up a number of logistical opportunities.

The old alignment is shown to the top. The newer and probably more historically accurate one stands on the bottom. What's just so nice is the additional switching challenges opened up with this realignment.

Unit ethanol trains can now come in and work the bays on the west side. General freight, high-and-wides, and military equipment can move in as well. 

Points of interest:
  • Boca Chica passing siding was moved to the east of this island. Even though it is not in Boca Chica Key anymore, it keeps the name since it sounds interesting.
  • Double distant signal east of the entrance road to NAS Key West. 
  • Power-Assisted turnout at the NAS leads. For sure, there'll be a switch leading out to Key West. Pending is a switch from the east.

As can be seen here, the old alignment was officially pulled up and the tracks that carried virtual FEC trains for five years are no longer on line and gone from the system.

One nice thing about working here is it allows me to expand upon areas only partially done by Nikos. For instance, the swing bridge was done but of course a whole lot of area on either side has been partly complete. Hence I'm working to landscape the sections through to complete the areas.

Another interesting thing about this is once all the work is said and done, the track snaps right in with the existing continuing sections of the mainline. So it is possible to say this was once a part of Flagler's Folly; but the history buffs know better.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More FEC Key West Extension Updates

I am starting to put the real teeth back in the Key West Extension.

Here are some of the changes I have taken to or will be taking to soon.

  • The route is the Florida East Coast Railway Key West Extension, not the FEC Little River Belt Line or FEC Miami Terminal. Much less, it is not the CSX GPC Spur. The FEC up to N Miami was part of the line and so was the CSX GPC Spur, as the Krome Quarry could be one of the rock pits used for rock trains to Key West. But I nixed the CSX connection, leaving it down to SW 312th Street where there's enough space to emit a train. Soon I will be pulling all boards north of Bird Road on the Little River Line and north/east of NW 27th Avenue on the mainline. The Buena Vista-Port operations may be included in a separate edition depending on if/how I roll this one out first. This will keep it focused on the completely nonexistent trackage while offering sufficient mileage to play with Tri-Rail trains as far as Vizcaya. Regardless, if there was to be a Tri-Rail coastal link incorporated in this, it would still be an incomplete service.
  • Spanish Harbor Siding, one of Nikos's first locations on the route, has been extended north to suit longer FEC Trains. With the times, computer performance has increased enough to accomodate 7,000' intermodals. The new trackage extended north butts against the Bahia Honda truss bridge. The gravel road and other crossings are also using Jointed Rail boards instead of the older boards.
  • To enhance the realistic track layout, a new siding was added at Long Key. As for turnouts, the SE now reads "Long Key" and the NE reads "Fiesta Key". This turns a 30 mile space between Marathon N and Whale Harbor S to a 10 mile gap for Marathon. This siding is 11,000 feet long approximately.
  • Track between Long Key and Whale Harbor is straightened and level above ground. No more plowing sand, Richard!
  • Plantation Key Industrial Park is being built. I'm using my noggin to make some use out of a couple of buildings of interest there. There's a lumberyard at MM88, and a marina/boat warehouse at the 89. In a patch of trees I've added an Amerigas and also used a natural greenhouse-ish area to be a fertilizer industry on the side. The area's perfect for a local to do easy switching but some customers and the lead stem from single track. Ouch! Can't delay mainline hotshots. In fact it's possible that "Old Highway" was the former FEC alignment.
  • Ballast will be updated to the two tone JR-grey and sand (for the patches of sand-ish material by the roadbed), like pretty much all other routes. This will enhance the quality and freshness of the route.
  • IM High Cube trains can only run single track as doublestack HCs won't fit under the Bahia Honda Bridge.
  • On the Mainland, Tri-Rail stations will be installed at: Southland Mall, The Falls, Naranja, and City of Homestead. 
  • Amtrak Stations will be added at: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West.
Some of the URLs above link to recent screenshots, so enjoy those little previews of what's to come! This route is going to be fantastic and I'm glad I'm getting back to it. As of now in my routemaking department, there's only two routes to be focused on, the Tampa Terminal and the Key West Extension.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

More Key Lime Pie, Please? KWE Progress!

I felt a bit motivated to pick up on the FEC Key West Extension project. Lots of the work I managed to do was to clean up some messy roadways, like the South Miami area. US-1 and Sunset is kind of sort of up to date with freshly programmed signals and a new station.

Also, what I'd call part 2 of the Dadeland area, part 1 completed last year, is almost done. This involves a fully functional crossing-intersection at SW 71 AV and SW 84 ST. Put a railroad in the picture and the intersection, with the garage of a Tri-Rail and Metrorail station behind, can be extremely busy. The traffic light design at 71st and 84th proper is partly inspired by International Drive and Conventon Way in Orlando, FL due to its feel and function.
Also, to answer the absence of a rail platform on the Belt line side, as I plan to operate a Tri-Rail line on this line, I'll be adding a station to the south (right) of 84th Street.

Also, I'll add that a more up to date road system will be developed over the coming months, as well as the possibilities of getting the crossings fitted with Ryan's new system. Traffic lights will also be done with hopefully LED coronas.

While the first two pics brought out the roadgeek in me, I saw fit to balance it with a pure railroad scene. I did a rough job of the Homestead Intermodal and Automotive Ramp in the throat between US-1 and Card Sound Road. The original working was skew to both, but I chose to have it parallel Card Sound more instead in a redo that was done the other day. Your pure Florida railroad scene of a FEC loco switching the ramp will be coming to a computer screen near you!

It is also from here where the Turkey Point Coal Trains will have a place to go. An equally level extension to the game map was made two miles east of here, allowing for a loop reasonably close to the actual power plant. That loop is connected to the looping IM yard lead via a spur and turnout by the interchange between US-1 and Card Sound. (This fourth image predates the third image)

More to come, including an ops session with JR's new FEC engines!