The Northern Trans-Pennine Route DLC for Train Sim World 2 is part of the preserved collection of DLC originally released for Train Sim World 2-3 years ago.
Set in the early 80’s before everything from transmission to warning systems where automated, NTP gives the promise of an old-fashioned eye-on-the-track challenge that might seem a little overbearing at first glance, but once you’ve spent some time with the new trains, you’ll find a fun and rewarding experience.
The route runs from Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield, which is a stretch of 43 miles.
There’s 17 stations in total with a great range of smaller stops as well as the larger hubs like Manchester, Leeds and Huddersfield.
Because of the setting, you’ll find a wide variety of scenery as you move from one city, through the countryside, there’s multiple bridges, crossings, and tunnels including Standedge which stretches for over three miles through the Pennine hills making for one of the most varied visual settings I’ve experienced in TSW so far.
The Locomotives included in this route pack are the British Rail Class 101, class 45 and class 47.
The 101, also found in the Tees Valley line DLC, is a first-generation diesel multiple unit with a top speed of 70mph, unlike most trains, this loco has manual gears, meaning you’ll have to cut the throttle before changing gear to reach optimum acceleration.
It’s an intimidating prospect which might put people off at first glance, but given a chance, it proves a fun and engrossing system that will reward your perseverance.
The Class 45 and 47 are large, powerful diesels with more than enough difference to warrant the inclusion of both, I found the class 47 a slightly more enjoyable ride, but that didn’t stop me overshooting a red signal and failing a hour long scenario, which reinforces the need to keep your eyes on the track because in the days preceding automated warning systems, trains required a little more care and attention than I’m used to.
While playing the Trans-Pennine route, I found myself spending far less time enjoying the scenery, because time and time again, I’d be glued to the controls trying to ensure the train was running at the optimum speeds, and with scenarios and timetable routes offering stops ranging from barley over a mile to over a dozen miles, there’s always signals and speed limits to keep an eye on with the diesel’s especially needing careful care and attention if you plan on dropping the speed before you hit that next station, which makes this route one of the most involved I’ve experienced in TSW2.
There’s the usual range of collectables to find when you do take the time to explore, with 100 in total, you’ll need to place posters and route maps, fill up empty newspaper stands and overgrown tress to locate. These range from plainly obvious blank boards to near impossible to spot from a distance, so it’s certainly going to take some exploration to find them all.
Graphically, I’ve found Northern Trans-Pennine to be among the best of the preserved collection routes and easily on par with some of the DLC specifically made for TSW2, there are very few fuzzy textures, and while you can sometimes get a lighting glitch making the occasional distant tree flicker, this is easily overlooked when you consider there’s over 40-miles of scenery, with commercial, residential, industrial areas between vast open countryside passing roads, canals, village and just about everything else you can imagine.
It’s almost a shame that the trains take such careful attention, but when you do master the locomotives, you’ll find plenty of scenery to enjoy as you cruise between two of Britains largest northern towns.
The sound is, as always of high quality, Train Sim World don’t cut many corners and the majority of sounds are taken directly from real-life trains and stations to ensure authenticity, the only downside is with stations rarely looking as populated as they sound it feels like the audio is from a few years ago, while the passengers you see are all covid aware and self-distancing from each other.
Part of the freight services on Northern Trans-Pennine are provided by the Tees Valley Line Route which was already installed at the time of this review, so if you’re looking more for freight services TVL might be worth considering in random.
It’s also worth mentioning the Heavy Freight pack, which is an additional DLC that costs £11.99, this pack adds the Class 08 and the Class 40 as well as new tutorials scenarios and routes and while I don’t usually mention locomotive packs, this particular addition is well worth considering as it adds plenty of content to an already fantastic route pack.
Overall Northern Trans-Pennine is fantastic value, offering a range of older trains which present a much different challenge to most routes on TSW2, newcomers to the franchise might be better exploring Great Western Railway first, but once you’ve got to grips with TSW2 as a whole, you’ll find NTP a fun and varied challenge.