GSS Tunnel District (Route Progress)



A route created by yours truly, based on a fictional railroad of my good friend Paul Mathis. How bout a little backstory?
Paul and I have been friends for around 6 years, having met at our local model railroad club. He was always bringing these blue locomotives for his fictional railroad, and I never thought anything of it except that I ran them occasionally. Fast forward 5 years, we've now gone on countless railfan trips, and my interests shifted from "hey look a train" to actually taking note in the economics and operations of a railroad. We got to talking about our fictionals, and he gave me the history of the GSS. I always liked the scheme, but now I was hooked. After asking a couple more questions, I decided to model a short stretch (50 miles or so) of the Tunnel District in T:ANE.

The Tunnel District is arguably the most intense stretch of the entire railroad, running from Radford, VA to Salyersville, KY via Honaker, Elkhorn City, and Prestonsburg (roughly 200 miles). It was built by predecessor road NCC in 1909, and heavily realigned in the 1960's to reduce gradients and widen curves. Because it was the last road to reach the area, the NCC had to dip, dodge, duck, dive, and... dodge its way around the N&W, Clinchfield, and worst of all, C&O. Paul had drawn a rudimentary map of where the GSS would run, but it was up to me to find a way to make it possible. Many hours of studying topo maps and 3 trainz DEMs later, I had my alignment, and the route was off and running!

So, what's the goal for this crazy project?

I hope to have phase 1 of the Tunnel District (Birchleaf, VA to Big Sandy Summit near Honaker, VA) finished completely by mid 2021, if not sooner. If that works out, then the route will get released! I've had a number of people say that it would be worth a purchase as payware, which is something I'll look into doing. However if that's more trouble than its worth, then I'll be more than happy to share it with the rest of the Trainz community for free! If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me here on the forums, or on Discord (My ID is Smitening#9832). So without further ado... Let's kick this thing off with a coal train climbing up through Jeremiah, shall we?

The center of coal operations on the Tunnel Division is Mathis Yard in Birchleaf, VA. From here mine runs gather coal and build trains for export, break down the empties that return, and repeat the process all over again. Manifest is also worked here, most of which goes to the Georgia-Pacific Paper plant across the river.

Probably not... If/when this gets released, its most likely gonna end up on TrainzForge, but don't quote me on that.
Thanks Tolga! Great to hear from the master himself. Leo (Silvermoon88) helped IMMENSELY with the lighting, and has also been a huge source of support and inspiration for the project. As for you... Beta tester...? ;)
Just north (railroad west) of Rosedale, VA are the Rosedale Loops... a pair of 180+ degree curves back to back that stretch across 3 bridges and 2 high fills, turning what would be a 4.2% grade into a much more manageable 1.3%. GSS predecessor NCC originally attacked the mountain head on, but when grade reduction projects were done in the early 20th century, they were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were a trio of ridges that were of the perfect height and length for the alignment we now see today. This is Chicago bound manifest 311 descending the loops towards Honaker.


And despite the missing scenery, an overall view of the loops:


Hope everyone is staying safe and well. Run more trains ;)
Howdy everyone! It's been almost a month since I've posted an update on the Tunnel District. As of now, the entire mainline is laid, including what was originally the "Phase II" portion. I still have about a dozen miles of trackwork to complete, in the form of the Clinchfield/C&O main, and a mile or so more of branchline. Of all this, I've got a grand total of...

7 MILES of scenery! Yup, a whole 10% of the route. I know I know, this is a monumental accomplishment and we're so close to release!

...just kidding. The 7 miles are all disconnected, spread far and wide between Birchleaf and The Loops, which kinda defeats the purpose of having a Phase II. So, it looks like I'll just have to put my nose to the grindstone and get to work on releasing the route as one whole big chunk... a terrifying prospect, but one that I'm ready to face head on. That's enough talking tho, how about some pictures?

Starting from the East, crossing the N&W Clinch Valley District at Honaker, VA:

A crowd favorite location, Indian Creek Junction near Bee, VA:



Rolling railroad East through Birchleaf, VA (along with a heavy WIP shot of the town area):


Mainline along the Breaks of the Russell Fork River at the VA/KY state line (I'm dreading making these cliffs). Clinchfield runs on the opposite bank of the river:

Clinchfield and GSS trackage at Elkhorn City, KY. The CRR yard is complete, minus the Apex Coal loader.

There's a couple more spots I've worked on, but these are the main ones I wanted to highlight. Hope everyone is safe and well! Keep your eyes peeled for more progress shots on the "Show Off Your Routes" and "USA Pics" threads.
Thank you for the update,

Great looking pics, and I really like your Mountains..........So just remember, you are the Captain of this Ship your trying to Sail into unknown waters ahead......?

With that said, nothing says the Route has to be 100% complete, over my time here with different versions of Trainz, I have a few Routes come out to us, incomplete with Authors warning they decided it was time to let it lose........No heartburn there...I still have some of those Routes in my inventory........And some of them are DEM Routes with only colored Hog Lines.....:hehe:

If you want to delay it for completion, then do so, or let it go at this point, and release updates to the Route as you complete......At your leisure.

The main thing to remember, you have a life as we all do, only so many hours in the day........Take a break when you need it, and the rest will work itself out........:wave:

This Route has lots of promise, and I'm enjoying the view here. :p
Thank you fellas! Blue, I'm not stressing myself out over this by any means... And when I don't feel like doing route work, I reskin or run trains. Never a dull moment on the GSS!
Yeah someone got me hooked on that TransDem and now I'm in super detail TransDem hell! :) But trust me I like it. Can't wait to get back to running trains again as I develop. That is the way to do it.

Pictures look awesome BTW

Well, I'm back! I've spent the last 2 weeks dealing with work, reskinning engines, and procrastinating any real route work... but I managed to knock out the western summit of Big Sandy Ridge tonight. Love this scene :D


This section of the Tunnel District was redone in the 1940s, you can see the original alignment in the top right of the photo:


Hope everyone else is alive and well. Happy Spooky Season!
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Anyone else feel the rumble of 710 engine blocks in their bones and hear the whistling of turbochargers in the distance?
Thanks Constar! That's definitely the intent :)

It's been a busy two weeks for me, got a new job and college is kicking my butt... but I managed to grind out a few hours of route building tonight. And the result is what might be the best scene I've ever made in Trainz... but I'll let y'all be the judge of that ;)

C571 coasting downhill just west of the loops:

Have a good night everybody!
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Thanks Constar! That's definitely the intent :)

It's been a busy two weeks for me, got a new job and college is kicking my butt... but I managed to grind out a few hours of route building tonight. And the result is what might be the best scene I've ever made in Trainz... but I'll let y'all be the judge of that ;)

C571 coasting downhill just west of the loops:

Have a good night everybody!

To see this scene on video call is one level of awesome. But to see the full size screenshot, definitely poggers sir.
Oh goodness, it's been 4 months. FOUR MONTHS. Man time flies... In the time since the last post, I've done more work on the route, and revamped some old scenes. Let's take a look!

Let's start with the oldest photo... Here's Q158 bookin' it through Birchleaf on Main #1. The old NCC trilights won't be around forever, but they managed to survive the great PTC signal purge.


Next up is Duty, VA! A tiny town on the Indian Creek Branch, made slightly less tiny by the introduction of the GSS. This here is the C540 with 911 and 1776 leading, 2 of many commemorative units on the GSS roster.


3 miles up the same branch is the Clinchfield Coke Company. This scene is heavily inspired by the coking plant on the NS Buchanan Branch near Vansant, VA (and in GSS lore, it's a direct competitor). It's the largest customer on the branch, spitting out a steady 35 cars of Coke every day, which are gathered into unit trains for the run to Chicago. Here's few shots of V21 switching the plant just before sunset.[FONT=&quot]



Aaaaaand one more overall view of the plant:


Last but not least, a sneak peek for some of you Clinchfield fans... ;)


Hope y'all are doing well! Best wishes,