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SimSig is a donationware[1] Windows-based train simulator of modern railway signalling systems in Great Britain, from the point of view of a railway signaller.[2] Users have also had success running SimSig on Linux using Wine.[3] The program was written in Delphi 6, a dialect of Object Pascal, by Geoff Mayo and has been in development since the late 1990s. Visually, it resembles the British Rail Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC), though most of the simulations do not cover areas operated by IECC-based signal boxes. It simulates overlaps, approach locking, time-of-operation point locking, shunt routes, warner routes, call-on routes, and more.

Railtrack asked for a "professional" version of SimSig, now known as TRESIM,[4] which is currently used to train signallers at every Network Rail IECC and several panel signal boxes around Great Britain.[5][6]

SimSig has been commented on by Professor Jörn Pachl of University of Braunschweig - Institute of Technology, the Rail Safety and Standards Board, the North London Society of Model Engineers and the National Model Railroad Association of the USA.

Gameplay

Train motion is simulated according to train type and loading,[7] and is controlled via the use of timetables. With a keyboard and mouse, the player sets routes, operates level crossings as necessary, and joins and detaches trains as timetabled. Solid State Interlockings (SSIs), the main electronic technology in use at present on British railways, along with approach locking, swinging overlaps, shunt routes, warner routes and call-on routes are all available.[7] The simulations may be played in real time or sped up. The aim of play is to achieve a good score by overcoming problems and ensuring on-time train running. Points are accumulated for good operation and deducted for errors or late running.

Sounds can be enabled for phone messages, warnings, failures, and Train Ready To Start indicators. Automatic Route Setting, Automatic Headcode Insertion[7] and token systems for single track working are functional in some of the available simulations. Most simulations have various levels of difficulty, ranging from beginner to difficult scenarios[8] with engineering possessions of tracks; train delays; bad weather; or points, signal and track circuit failures.

Although produced by railway software engineers to ensure a high degree of realism,[7][9][10] the simulations are usable by those without any in-depth or professional knowledge of signalling systems. Most simulations can be joined over the Internet to share the workload. Some simulations can be linked to form a chain of signal boxes for extended operation.

File:KX Simsig.png

Fifteen English and two Scottish signalling areas are available,[11] as well as some beta versions.

File:Exetersimsig.png

One of the largest simulations, Trent, covering the area around Nottingham was released in February 2009 and re-released in April 2010.[12]

Older versions have signalling areas shown as separate panels, whilst some of the newer beta versions have a single sideways scrolling panel covering the whole simulation area.

User content

User-created timetables simulating modern, historical, and fictional scenarios are available through simulation forums and other web sites. Timetables may be created with the built-in editor[7] or an imported text file. Sources for timetabling information include official Working Timetables (WTT) and historic published timetables such as Bradshaws.

A timetable file converter allowing easy conversion between timetables and text files is available from a third-party site.[13]

Reception

SimSig is referenced in the 2nd edition of Railway Operation and Control by Professor Jörn Pachl of University of Braunschweig - Institute of Technology.[14] Doctor Marcelo Moretti Fioroni of the University of São Paulo, in a paper on rail simulations and their applications in Brazil, cited SimSig as an extremely realistic simulation, reproducing real scenarios.[15]

The Rail Safety and Standards Board recommends the use of simulation software as a classroom aid and specifically mentions the SimSig web site as a source:

Load and run rail (train and signal) simulation software and obtain an appreciation of the role of drivers and signallers in the rail system. Rail signalling simulation software may be downloaded from www.simsig.co.uk
in the document "Rail education framework for secondary schools (S1 – S2) in Scotland - Guidance for Teachers".[16] SimSig has been described by Alan Marshall of the North London Society of Model Engineers as "a remarkable and complex simulator that will test your skills and it demands quite a bit of patience to learn how to operate a modern signal box successfully."[17]. In 2009 the National Model Railroad Association convention at Fort Wayne hosted workshops demonstrating the use of SimSig for model rail simulations.[18]

References

  1. Donate. www.simsig.co.uk. Retrieved on 2009-02-07.
  2. SimSig. Gensheet. Retrieved on 2009-01-01.
  3. WineHQ - SimSig 2.103. Wine HQ. Retrieved on 2008-12-26.
  4. Story of Swindon B and sale to the Railway Engineering Company. SimSig. Retrieved on 2008-12-27.
  5. Raymond Keattch (18 April 2004). Amazing news for me. Retrieved on 2008-12-27.
  6. Strainstall Acquires The Railway Engineering Company. Strainstall UK. Retrieved on 2009-01-01.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Simsig - Signal box simulation software - railfest 2004 - National Railway Museum, York. web.archive.org. Retrieved on 2009-01-14.
  8. Signalling Simulations. District Dave. Retrieved on 2008-12-27.
  9. Sundry Strategy Titles. TRANSPORT SIMULATION UK. Retrieved on 2008-12-27.
  10. John Hinson. Games and Simulations. The Signal Box. Retrieved on 2009-01-01. “SimSig is a remarkable and highly realistic IECC simulation by Geoff Mayo”
  11. Simulation downloads. SimSig. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  12. NLL/Sheffield/Trent/GWR. simsig.co.uk. Retrieved on 11 September 2010.
  13. SimSig. Clive Feather. Retrieved on 2008-12-26.
  14. Pahl, Jörn (2009). Railway Operation and Control. Mountlake Terrace, WA, USA: Vtd Rail Publishing. p. 127, 226. ISBN 978-0-9719915-1-4. 
  15. Moretti Fioroni, Marcello (2007). Simulação Em Ciclo Fechado De Malhas Ferroviárias E Suas Applicações No Brasil: Avaliação De Alternativas Para O Direcionamento De Composições (Brazilian Portuguese) (PDF). Universidade de São Paulo. Retrieved on 1 September 2010.
  16. RSN Associates and Risk Solutions (February 2003). "Rail education framework for secondary schools (S1 – S2) in Scotland - Guidance for Teachers" (PDF). Development of rail safety material for teachers and schools. RSSB. pp. 103. http://www.rssb.co.uk/pdf/reports/Research/Development%20of%20rail%20safety%20material%20for%20teachers%20and%20schools.pdf. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  17. Marshall, Alan (September, 2006). "Dipping a toe into Signalling" (PDF). North London Society of Model Engineers Newsletter (London: NLSME) (673): 21. http://www.nlsme.co.uk/Newsletters/NLSME-September-2006.pdf. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  18. Tower Operations, United KIngdom Style. NMRA NCR Convention. Retrieved on 2009-08-28.

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