If you have found this post, you know that SIAM make some DOS looking but very addictive railway traffic simulators. I first bought Barnstaple which was very enjoyable and then I was looking at modelling Reading so I bought that too. I then decided to buy a hard one that would keep me entertained for longer so I plumped for Carlisle, a severely difficult simulation that would be fair to say requires at 10 attempts before becoming familiar enough with it to avoid many lost points. Unfortunately, it is harder to gain points than to lose them and a single late train can slice your points in half so now I have completed it, let me give you some beginners advice:

  1. There are turntables, water and coal on screens 0 (turntable on 2) and 1. Use them for locos that arrive at Petteril Bridge and London Road respectively. Although the water and coaling is slow on screen 0, there are few scenarios where you will not have time to complete them.

  2. Start with Monday, because it is by the easiest to start with. There are few trains initially and the ones that are already on the simulation are either already coupled, or the locos are to hand in the station.

  3. It will take a while to get used to the screens because there are so many but most action takes place along the LMS and Scottish lines on screens 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9. Screen 4 is dormant for the first few hours, screens 0, 1 and 2 tend to be 95% freight, the passenger trains passing through.

  4. Try and spend your spare time in the early hours turning all 12A locos to face south (only occasionally does a freight loco point north as it goes round Rome to Currock yard) and I put all the Black 5s together in the running sheds in Upperby depot to make it take less time to pull a specific loco from the end of perhaps 5 other locos. All visiting locos and Scots, Patriots and Coronations I put in the Roundhouse. Water and coal all locos - you don't want to be rushing these things 20 minutes before a train is due. Many trains change locos at Citadel and it is easy to get caught with an imminent departure lacking the correct loco.

  5. Likewise, in Kingmoor depot, apart from perhaps 1 Jubilee, 8F and Crab. Turn all the other Jubilees, 8Fs, crabs and black5s for 68A and all Scottish locos (65/66 etc) to face north. Occasionally a large 68A loco goes south from Durranhill. Leave the 4Fs alone since most will go south from Durranhill but you might want one or two for piloting from the Down Yard northbound.

  6. Turn all locos at Durranhill to face south. There is sometimes a 68A Jubilee there so quickly check whether it is needed on an early service from Petteril bridge to the north, otherwise turn it was well. It will save some space to do the locos in order and turn and couple up any where the trains are complete ("wagons for.." rather than "part of.."). The locos at Durranhill are mostly all gone by about 6am until the evening. Be careful since several 68A locos need to get from Kingmoor depot to Durranhill and can take 10 minutes or longer to get there as well as turning time if required.

  7. There is 7:20 to Newcastle stock parked in Durranhill, don't wait for the timetable before moving it to the station since it is a bit of a hassle to pull it out and then couple up the rear to take it to the station.

  8. Remove all incoming locos at Petteril Bridge and replace them with tank locos for the journeys across Carlisle unless the loco is scheduled to take the train beyond Carlisle. This gives extra time to water/turn/coal them and also avoids too many light-engine trips across Rome junction.

  9. If you get goods arriving at Petteril Bridge for the goods yard, put them into DL5 or 6 and bring a loco from the shed on 0. It saves having to play around with the stock to pull and then push it into the shed.

  10. Try and keep at least 3 tank engines in screens 1 and 2 for the trip freights that arrive. At certain times, particularly at London Road, 4 or more services might arrive at the same time and if they are late (as is common with the freight) you will not have time to find locos and move them there. Also there is an occasional forward working from London Road to the north which either require the correct loco to move there from Kingmoor or otherwise to take it with a tank to Kingmoor Down yard and change there. If you can, it is easier to put the correct loco on in the first place and avoid the hassle of changing it.

  11. Because it takes a long time to get from Upperby (screen 3) to Lancaster, when you have a light loco, it is best to let it leave around 15 minutes before booked time which will mean it gets to the boundary (and you get your points) at the right time.

  12. Upperby goods depot can get busy and some arriving freights stop there to detach. Often the incoming loco can be used to move goods to Crown street and you can couple a tank loco for the trip working (usually to Viaduct yard).

  13. Be careful to remember getting goods from the cattle depot and Crown street since if you use the yellow trains as an indicator of what needs coupling up, you might not realise that a portion is already there somewhere.

  14. Try and leave 3RD empty for arrivals from the carriage sidings since moving trains from the yard to 3rd can take a long time and cause the yardmaster at Upperby to get angry!

  15. Watering at Currock (screen 4) takes ages. Don't bother. Run the loco to Upperby and do it there. It can be fiddly here because many services go north as well as south and this can involve many moves. I try and keep a handful of tank locos there both to take trip freights and also to help move things around.

  16. The station generally is a real bottleneck. Do not leave things in platforms longer than possible. Remember only platforms 1 and 3 have north-end watering columns and 3 and 4 south-end. Move post to the TS sidings otherwise it will block a platform for an hour or so. If services are leaving more than an hour after arriving or the station is busy, move them with the incoming loco to a siding. Try and move trains that originate in Carlisle to a bay platform to leave the through-platforms clear.

  17. The quickest way to change southbound locos is to move the new loco to S6 from SSB, SSC or P4 using the Newcastle line as the headshunt. Move the southbound train in P3 and then uncouple and move it to S5. As soon as it is clear of the scissors crossing, which is very soon, move the new loco onto P3 and then couple it and back the other loco via P1 or a siding to Kingmoor (since it usually a Scottish or Kingmoor loco).

  18. Screen 7 has some interesting moves between the depot and the main and freight lines. Be careful since the routes taken might not be what you think and you can lose points for conflicting routes. You can move locos and trains into E2 to reverse into the down yard from the upyard. This is good for instance for the 1:55 to Canal yard, part of which is in the down yard. You can then pull out southbound onto the southbound freight line. You must go to Canal yard from the up/down yards via Rome Street where you uncouple and runround.

  19. There are lots of trip workings from the up yard so again make sure you keep about 4 tank locos to hand (3ft and J39), generally you can take the ones that arrive at the down yard from elsewhere in Carlisle and reverse them on the main line into the up yard. You can fit two locos in a siding. You will not need many pilot locos from the Down yard so you don't need to keep any there.

  20. Be very careful of the time it takes slow freights to travel from KDS to RDH (and from RSH to KUH) on screen 9. Even if you are putting trains in the freight loop at Floriston, it can take 10 minutes to cover that section and it is easy to delay the passenger trains (and lose points)

  21. On screen 8, do NOT send freight services to Silloth until their scheduled time since it takes a long time for them to clear the single line to Silloth and if you send them in front of a passenger service - even by 30 minutes - you can delay the passenger train severely and lose many points.

  22. There are some tricky shunting operations in Canal yard so try and keep the arrival sidings CA1 to 4 and CY6 and 7 empty because careful use of these will make what could be a nightmare, reasonably hassle free. For instance, the 6:00, 6:06 and 6:16 trip services are made up of 2 portions so if you couple up locos to the first part, when the second parts all arrive on the same service, you can detach and pull forwards and then back onto the portion with the 6:00 and then repeat for the others. Also, move any departures out of the goods shed and to departure (or arrival) dead-end sidings to keep them clear of other goods.

  23. Don't send the 9:45 from London road to Dalston Road or the 9:45 to Number 12 (Rome Street) until about the right time. These services will block the line in both directions between Canal Yard and Rome Street and then they turn round and go back. This is OK, just make sure there are no other services that need to use the line before them.

  24. Before sending a freight away, particularly from screens 0 (SC), 3(LC) and 9(CR/GSW), make sure that there are no imminent passenger trains since these services can take some time to clear the area. Services via NB, TV and MC clear quite quickly and are less busy generally.

  25. When sending the 9:10 and 9:15 light-locos to the north, put one in FSH and one FDH at about 8:30 after the previous services have gone north. The next one will be the 9:00 to Glasgow from Citadel. At about 9:01 (I get problems if I send locos exactly 10 minutes beforehand), send the one in FDH to CR and then if you remember in time, send the FSH at 9:06 which is just enough time to get out of the way of the 9:00. If you are a bit late, let the 9:00 to Glasgow pass and then send the 9:15 light-loco

  26. Probably the hardest move is the 3:11 and 3:16 postal. The 3:11 arrives, usually late and needs watering as well as attaching another portion. The incoming service detaches part of the 3:16 which needs to meet a portion already in the station. The loco for the 3:11 remains coupled and the loco for the 3:16 has been detached from an earlier service. They leave very close in time and often by the time you have watered the incoming service, it then delays the 3:16. This is what you should do: Put the 3:11 section from Citadel into P1. When the 3:11 arrives, put it into P3 but DO NOT water it now. When it divides, move it to P1 for watering at which point, couple the Citadel section of the 3:16 onto the detached portion in P3. This will couple up and be ready fairly quickly. The postals can leave up to 5 minutes early but the 3:16 is slower so if the 3:16 is ready by about 3:11 and the 3:11 has only just started watering, let the 3:16 depart early but depending on how close it is, move it into the loop at Floriston since the 3:11 will probably catch up. if you think the 3:11 will be ready by about 3:11 or soon afterwards do not let the 3:16 depart early, the 3:16 should be fine as long as the 3:11 leaves about 3 minutes earlier. Remember if the 3:11 was late, you can let it leave late but the 3:16 originates at Carlisle and is expected to leave on time.