White City Screenshot November 2020

The Next Version Of The Central Line and our other routes

Now for a long awaited update on the next version of the Central Line and our other routes. This may be a bit of a long read but we have so much to talk about.

While some of this might be ‘old news’ it has been a while since we outlined our plans. However, we thought you should hear this officially from us. The future for BVE Western Region is an exciting one with some serious mileage planned in terms of route extensions. We also have some ideas for brand new routes currently on the drawing board. Whether these ever see the light of day or not is entirely in the future, but for now, we can at least talk about our current offering. We are also taking the opportunity to put some rumours to bed by confirming some of what is and what isn’t happening.

The Central Line

We have been working quietly on the Central Line behind the scenes. A lot of what has been done might not be readily apparent. The team undertook a complete rebuild of the route from scratch. This has meant that various other platforms and sidings have now become accessible. It has not been a small task!

We had originally planned to rebuild all of the underground stations and release a demo but it has taken a lot longer than planned. The replacement 1992 stock has also suffered from several major setbacks. This was to be expected.

The new train boasts new ATP and ATP rewritten from scratch. They closely replicate what is seen on the real train with a level of accuracy not seen before.

Most of you may not be aware but the original plug-in wasn’t able to handle trains in front. This new one can. Eventually this will mean we can recreate the rush hour experience when the London Underground is at its busiest – except perhaps after a concert kicks out at the O2 or Wembley Stadium.

Unfortunately this has presented a whole new level of obstacles to overcome. Our ATP currently gets confused if it has to process traffic! This is something we are finally making some progress on but it has taken a while… plus a lot of screaming at the PC as the system slams on the emergency brakes for no apparent reason!

Our point is, we want to get this right this time around so that it can withstand the test of time.

Our survey says...

The results were in favour of taking our time and extending the Central Line

Some of you may have taken part in the recent poll on Twitter. This all came about after the series of setbacks we suffered with the Central Line.

We needed the community’s feedback as to whether they wanted to have the same piece of track again – albeit with a significant upgrade – or hold off for an extension.

The results were in favour of taking our time and extending the Central Line. You spoke, we listened.

We pride ourselves in taking the time to do things properly. Of course many of our methods have changed a lot since we first released the Central Line over 5 years ago. This is why we wanted to take the opportunity to improve it and bring it up the same standard as the Jubilee and North London lines.

Say goodbye to Phases

As was first rolled out by the North London Line, BVE Western Region no longer refers to any of its projects as “phases”. We ask that you respect this. Part of the reason behind this change is to allow us to fix any bugs that may occur as BVE itself goes through a considerable upgrade.

It wouldn’t make sense if we had to patch a route of ours and say “please download phase 1 1/2 that includes a fix that stops the trees from turning pink”. That just sounds silly!

Enough of the bad news! How about some exciting news about our plans for the route? Before we delve into this, please note that in line with our release dates policy we cannot give any time scales for this list. You should also note this is only a rough guide and the order of which could change.

What are our plans for the Central Line?

  • Version 1 – Ealing Broadway to Liverpool Street

This is the version currently available. It is not the upgraded version we are currently working on and is considerably outdated in places. We are aware it suffers with reliability issues with the plug-in used for the ATO/ATP systems.

  • Version 2 – Liverpool Street to Leytonstone
This version will include the upgraded 1992 stock. There will also be options to start at North Acton or White City as well the ability to use both platforms at Ealing Broadway. This will be the first release of the signifcantly upgraded Central Line.
The following is an approximation of the extensions planned beyond Leytonstone.
  • Leytonstone to Hainult via Newbury Park
  • Hainault to Woodford + Leytonstone To Woodford
  • Woodford to Epping
  • West Ruislip to North Acton
  • Return journeys to be added once the entire line is built

These versions are subject to change. This is only included to give an example based on current ambitions.

This could take a few years to complete, but we’d like to think it will be worth it. We shall of course keep you up to date with developments! The route is set in 2002 – 2003 and reflects this era as closely as possible. There are no plans to make the “modern era”.

The Jubilee Line

As we mentioned on our project status page, this route is not currently being worked on. The team spent a lot of time on this route last year. We are currently taking a well deserved break from it in order to focus on new content. This is not to say the Jubilee Line is dead however. We just want to have couple of years away from it.

Part of the reason for this is unfortunately down to the amount of pressure the community has put on us to extend and add features that are impossible. It has gotten to a point where our passion for this route was eroded away.

This was helped in part by the amount of abuse we took when a rumour was started by an individual who felt we were not working fast enough for them. The issue is further compounded by frequent requests to include ATO. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell people it isn’t going to happen. They just want to believe it will because they so badly want it to be true.

It would seem that every other month, somebody will start a rumour that we’re going to make a refurbished 1996 stock which will include ATO. Look at the pretty bullet points in the hopes this will be read this time:

What will and won't be included

Why isn't there going to be ATO for the Jubilee Line?

This question has already been answered in this post. If you want a much more detailed explanation as to why TBTC (the system used for ATO on the Jubilee Line) is not possible in BVE, we recommend you read this post carefully.

However, to give a short explanation on this, TBTC functions in ways fundamentally impossible to recreate in BVE. In fact, we have reason to believe that even Train Simulator 2020 would have a hard time coping with it

The reason is that TBTC doesn’t use fixed blocks for signalling. This is a complete contrast to the conventional techniques used by traditional signalling, and even the ATP system in use  on the Central Line.

There is also the subject of the TOD – the screen in the driving cab that interacts with TBTC. While our working TMS may make it look easy, BVE doesn’t naturally support in-cab menu systems or complex displays. A lot of it is accomplished with sprites and a bit of imagination.

The fact is the TOD is far too in-depth to be able to recreate it in BVE. While it isn’t impossible, the time taken to build it would be to the detriment of new content.

This would mean no extension to the Central Line. No chance of the Jubilee Line reaching Stanmore and no new routes at all.

Cut us some slack, Jack!

We understand the disappointment many may feel over the lack of ATO. This is why we’re working so hard to ensure that the Central Line gives as authentic an ATO experience as possible. We aren’t talking about the Central Line here, we’re talking about the Jubilee.

The Jubilee Line will eventually be extended and we have the ambitions to one day reach Stanmore. Like our other projects, return journeys back towards Stratford will be possible once we reach the end of the line.

The fact our Jubilee Line gives everyone so much excitement is good. We genuinely appreciate how our efforts eventually paid off, but unfortunately it feels as though too many take this for granted.

Our vision for this project has always to set it in 1999 – 2004. An era when we first travelled on the Jubilee Line and our passion for making content for BVE was realised. To make a “modern era” goes against the BVE Western Region principles of preserving the recent past.

Can't you do the modern era though?

To frequently ask for something that is outside of our ethos is at times a little disrespectful. We may one day look to add the MK1 Celia Drummond announcements that appeared in the early naughties as they are firmly within the remit of the era in question.

However, as we have just explained, TBTC isn’t possible. Simulating anything set after the resignalling of the Jubilee Line would be unrealistic because to have it without TBTC would be incorrect.

Please, show our team some love by giving us some space. By hounding us about the Jubilee Line and how desperately you want to see something that isn’t possible, puts us off wanting to make any further additions to it.

We should also point out that by reaching West Hampstead, more than 50% of the line is already built. The Central Line isn’t even close to that yet! This is why it is currently prioritised over any future work on the Jubilee Line for now.

One day we will get back on the horse and look to go beyond West Hampstead. Trust us… you’ll be the first to know when this happens.

TBTC isn't possible in BVE

Is the Waterloo & City Line ever going to get some love?

Our plans for this is route is something we are keen to share. We will soon undertake a small upgrade to the “Drain” – as it’s affectionately known by enthusiasts and staff.

It is the last of our trains to feature a plug-in written in C++. Due the inherent unreliability of plug-ins written in this language, a replacement for this is on the radar. This is covered in more detail in this post. The current plan is to use the new 1992 stock as a base for the Class 482. Reliability should then be as good as our other trains.

We also want to take the opportunity to improve a few visual aspects of the line. More details to follow in due course!

More Mainline routes are in the pipeline

At BVE Western Region, it has always been an ambition of ours to include Mainline routes. As much as we love the London Underground, we would also like to offer some variety too.

Let’s start with the North London Line. We hope to soon complete the route as far as North Woolwich. Once this is complete, we have every intention of including return journeys. This will be in addition to the option of terminating/starting at Stratford. However, the North London Line was just the beginning.

Our next planned mainline route will be the West London Line. A relatively short route that starts at Clapham Junction. Running via Kensington Olympia, this route joins the North London Line at Willesden Junction. This route will also be set in the Silverlink era and is planned as an add-on to the North London Line. Futher details about this route will follow once the North London Line is finished. As for future mainline projects, watch this space…

Are you planning any new tube routes?

This is a subject that is often discussed. Both publicly by our fans, and privately by the BVE Western Region team. All we’re going to say at this stage is watch this space. There are ambitions to expand our coverage of the London Underground network and there are a couple of other routes under consideration. We can reveal however that none of those are the sub-surface lines.

Enough talk, how about some pictures?

For those who have stuck with this article long enough to reach this paragraph: hi. Here’s some screen shots of the Central Line upgrade so far.

That’s all for now. As always, you can keep up to date with us on Twitter. We hope to bring you some more exciting news soon!

If you like what you see, please show your support on Twitter by commenting on this post!

Some good news is always welcome. After such a terrible year for everyone, it would be nice to hear that our efforts are appreciated. Help combat the negativity and show your support for the long term future of the BVE Western Region team. Thank you.