The Virtual District Line

built to a standard, not a price


by Dr Jimi

Originator of the Virtual District Line

A lot of kind people have helped the Virtual District Line get this far, and I want to recognize their part in this work.

Richard Scott caused all this, although he may be surprised to hear it. He simply built a train that had no realistic place to run - thus provoking me into trying to create such a place. Richard is well known for his high-quality MSTS trains (freeware and commercial), and back in mid-2002 (or so) he had created a few of the first LU stocks for MSTS (R Stock and later the CO/CP). At that time they used non-prototypical cabs, and I offered to try and make a 'real' one for his COP train. He kindly agreed and a new version was released with my cab (incorrectly based on a C69!) and some improved physics and lighting. It was the beginning of my learning how to do those things. That train over time has over 10,000 downloads on UKTS and Train-sim combined. Clearly there are some LU fans out there! Richard and I continued to collaborate on other District and Piccadilly-focused LU stocks, latterly with Darren Carter joining our 'team' as the cab building wizard. But with the release of the CO/CP v2 train in 2002, one thing niggled me. Where to run it?  I decided to try and build a LU route and started some research.

A chance discussion on a LU-related forum in late 2002 led me to 'meet' Piccadilly Pilot (otherwise known as Roger Viggers). PP is an ex-Piccadilly Line Guard and Motorman and an acknowledged LU 'guru'. He truly understands how railways really work and is a fountain of knowledge and anecdotes about the Underground. We discussed my idea and he enthusiastically began to provide me with detailed material (track charts, signal diagrams, photos, etc.) that began my learning about the District Line. He has spent countless hours on MSN talking with me about the route, critiquing and providing guidance. He also made several trips to London to obtain detailed photos, many of which are used as textures on the route station structures, etc. Without his contributions and encouragement, this route would likely not exist. He has a critical eye, is sparing with praise, and has a dry wit. A favorite anecdote (true, honestly) - I'd asked his expert critique of a part of the route I'd completed. After some deliberation, the reply came: "I don't see much wrong with it...(pause)...mind you, I haven't looked closely yet." That, I came to learn in time, was in the nature of rapturous approval :-)

Another instigator, although he was unaware until I recently had the opportunity to tell him, was TubePrune. His LU-focused web site of the same name is a goldmine of information about the Underground, and I spent untold hours reading everything - multiple times. Often I needed a detail about a specific stock or a part of the route, or a map and found it there. Discovering all this information, along with that provided by PP, convinced me that building the route was at least possible.

One of the occasional contributors to the TubePrune site at that time was "District Dave" - then a C69 and D78 Operator on the District, and more recently an Instructor/Operator. He has also started his own District Line web site, which attracted a number of "LU professionals" to its discussion boards. Another notable on that board is long-time C69 and D78 Instructor/Operator "SolidBond" who is unquestionably a leading authority on the District Line and those stocks in particular. Both DD and SB were instrumental in the team's D78 stock being as realistic as it is. They spent hours 'driving it' and giving feedback until it matched their real-life experience of its appearance and performance. They have also both contributed to my knowledge of the route by supplying additional detailed materials and sharing their own personal knowledge of the line, and are honorary members of the Virtual District route and trains team. And have become good friends.

Others from the DD forum have been equally supportive and have shared their first-hand knowledge of stocks and the lines. “Motorman Jim" first taught me about C Stocks. "Doc", a Piccadilly Line 73TS Instructor/Operator, helped out considerably when we build the 73TS trains and has improved my understanding of Picc operations. D78 I/O "Colin" explained to me all about Depot working and other real-world procedures. "CitySig" tested out my LU route signal set on his MSTS installation and helped me get it to work prototypically (as far as MSTS allows!). There are surely others, and one of the downsides of listing people like this is the accidental omission of a name. So, to anyone else who ever answered one of my questions - thank you!

Finally, my thanks to the many on UKTS and elsewhere who have followed the sometimes rocky path that the construction of this (partial) route has followed. Your enthusiasm kept me at it, and will continue to do so. I hope you get some enjoyment from it.

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