North Woolwich Extension Out Now
We are proud to announce our first release for 2021 – The North London Line extension to North Woolwich. This gives the route the distinction of being one of only 2 of our routes to be completed. While we’d like to think this will be the case for the others in the future, it never gets any less exciting when it does happen. Reaching the terminus doesn’t mean this is the end of the project. In fact, this is where things get even more interesting. More on that later.
While it may seem progress has been slow for us recently, there has been a huge amount going on behind the scenes. That’s partly why we haven’t been writing as many posts/updates recently, because we wanted to bring you some new content. In fact, we wanted to share our progress on this route with you as we went along, but these things take a while to write. There has also been the problem with Roblox, but let’s not go there… This neatly brings us onto the North London Line extension to North Woolwich which has been released today.
Taking One Huge Step Back In Time
Given the line beyond Stratford closed quietly back in 2006, recreating it wasn’t easy. West Ham and Canning Town were initially modelled as we were building our Jubilee Line. However, once you go beyond Canning Town, it seemed very little of it had been photographed to the level of detail needed for a BVE route. Even as we walked around the area in 2013, little remained of the stations. Blue fencing for Crossrail largely obscured what little remained of the North London Line.
This is where Flickr, the historical images available on Google Maps, and Disused Stations.org.uk have been a lifeline for this project. Through tireless research we have been able to recreate 3 distinctly different areas as they would have been in 2006. From the ExCeL dominated area of Custom House, to the Industrial buildings of Silvertown, this wasn’t a quick job. In fact, it has been harder than the rest of the line put together.
3 Small Stations With Huge Amounts of Scenery
We began by laying out the groundwork between Canning Town and Custom House. It soon became apparent that we’d need to create some Docklands Light Railway style tracks and stations. We believe this is the first of its kind in recent years – there have been DLR routes in the past but none are currently being worked on. It very soon became clear why this is so… Docklands Light Railway architecture is horrible to build in BVE! A lot of rounded surfaces and glass. This isn’t easy when coding objects by hand via text as you do for this sim. That being said, the results speak for themselves.
The Docklands Light Railway follows us for just over a 1 1/2 miles and has 3 stations, each of which subtly different from the last. While we thought we could just copy & paste the bulk of it, it all needed to be tailored to its location.
One of the things we looked forward to the most in the North Woolwich extension was Connaught Tunnel. With no access to any diagrams per say and just grainy videos as reference, we made our best guess. We’d like to think that guess turned out rather well.
Silvertown was very deceptive. It’s very flat, and surrounded by what looked like fairly generic buildings. This wasn’t the case. Just the small shopping area outside of the station had to be custom built, otherwise it just wouldn’t have looked right. We’ve even gone so far as to build the Tate & Lyle sugar refinery.
When looking at that tower, you find yourself asking whether or not Willy Wonka is about to walk out of there and fall over. Whether that’s Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp is entirely up to you.
That Buffer Stops Feeling
Part of the North Woolwich extension of course was the satisfaction of arriving at North Woolwich itself. There, with buffer stops in front of you, this station has quite a long history to go with it. It used to boast 5 platforms, a turntable, and a goods yard. In the latter years all that remained was a hole where the turntable once stood and only one platform in use. During the 1980s the old station building was converted to a charming museum – one we sadly didn’t get the chance to visit. We gather it was full of artefacts about the Eastern Counties railway and railways of the region in general. The museum remained open for a time after the North London Line service ceased but it too closed a few years later.
This is where, once again, photos we found on Flickr and the extensive collection of a certain Nick Catford of Disused Stations.org.uk were invaluable. There were many photos of the museum itself as well as angles of the latter ticket office (built by BR to replace the original decaying station building).
All in all, this has been very challenging to build. However, looking back at what we’ve achieved so far with the North London Line as a whole gives us a lot to be proud of.
Below, TrainSimTV is among the first YouTubers to a look at the extended route.
Now It's Your Turn to Try It
The route can be downloaded here. Please ensure you update your version of the Class 313 as well as small changes needed to be made to the plug-in to allow it to handle some additional functions.
Please ensure you are using at least version 220.127.116.11 of OpenBVE or newer as the plug-in may not work with older versions
What's Next For This Route?
You may have read at the start that this project isn’t finished yet. This is very true. In fact, this is just part of the journey. Now we have reached the end of the line, we plan to return to Richmond and start on a significant graphics upgrade. Further details will follow soon but here are some of things planned for the next release of the North London Line:
- A graphics upgrade of the entire line
- Additional buildings/landmarks added
- Further upgrades to the Class 313, incorporating some additional features
- Various times of day (EG dusk, night time or early morning)
- The other 2 platforms are Richmond will be brought into use
The West London Line is earmarked as our next Mainline route and forms part of a further extension to the North London Line. We also have aspirations for further Mainline routes in the future.
Like what you see? Feel free to share your experiences on social media. As always, you can find us on Twitter for the very latest news.