2 Drive BVE 2

2.1 Aim of the game

How careful and realistic the drive should be is up to the user. It is possible to overspeed, pass signals at danger etc. The simulation will not halt, nor will the train derail even if it should have done that in the real world.

To assist the serious user, who want to do things as realistically as a PC simulation allows, the program offers some help:

  1. Help messages giving warnings or asking you to (not) do something
  2. Indication of
    • Forces during retardation or acceleration
    • Wheel slip
    • How you keep up with the timetable
    • How close to the desired place you stop at a station
  3. Indication of how the passengers (dis)like the ride

The passengers' mood is negatively affected by hard braking, delays and missed stations. Also a too aggressive start is negative.

Overspeed or passing signals at danger do not affect the passengers' mood, if not causing the train to rock excessively or the safety system, available at some routes and vehicles, applies the emergency brakes. The program will however prompt warning messages for such violations and in the real world this kind of errors, that may cause an accident, are much more serious than those who mainly annoys the passengers.

Summary: Happy passengers and no warning messages of overspeed or disobeyed signals are signs of good train operation.

2.2 Select line and vehicle

During a normal install of BVE a start icon is placed on the Windows' desktop and one in the start menu tree at the location Start-Program-Mackoy-BVE. Use any of these to start BVE. A dialogue box will pop up with a question if you want to run the simulator in a window, Windowed, or in full screen mode, Full Screen. Select Full Screen and click the OK button.

Screen dump of the dialogue for selection of windowed or full screen mode
Picture 1: Selection of windowed or full screen mode

Next is the dialogue for selection of route and vehicle. In the folder Railway there are subfolders for one or more routes. If you have added a lot of routes, there will be a scrollbar to the right of the folder tree. Use it to scroll down and see all route folders available. Double-click the folder of the route you want to drive.

Screen dump of the dialogue to select route folder
Picture 2: Selection of route folder

When the route folder opens, there will be one or more route alternatives to select. They are shown below the folder tree where you selected route folder.

Screen dump to select which route alternative to run
Picture 3: Example of alternatives for the selected route

If there is more than one alternative, the difference may be which type of train is used for the route, if it is an express route (only stopping at major stations) or a local route or which part of the line the route uses.

By highlighting (mouse left-click) an alternative, information on the alternative are shown under Route Overview and Train Overview.

Screen dump of information on a route alternative
Picture 4: Example of information on a route alternative

Double-click on the route alternative you want to drive.

2.3 The driver's cab

The drivers cab is the view available in the simulation. You can not view the train from outside or have other such alternative views. BVE is a pure driving simulator.

Screen dump of the cab view in BVE
Picture 5: The cab view in BVE

The view and the part of the driver's stand visible below the windscreen are intended to look like they do in the real world. The gray areas at the right and at the bottom of the screen also contain a lot of information but are not intended to look realistic.

2.3.1 Indicators & controls

2.3.1.1 The driving controls

The driving controls have partially being mentioned before in section 1.4.1. There are two types of controls: One type with separate power and brake handles, and another type with the both combined to a master controller. In both cases, there is a separate reverser handle to select forward or reverse driving direction.

2.3.1.1.1 Two controls

Screen dump of the indicators showing the position of the driving controls
Picture 6: Indication of the driving controls' position in case of separate power and brake handles

To the left, the position of the reverser is indicated

The reverser is controlled by using the keyboard's up-arrow and down-arrow keys.

In the middle, the position of the power handle is indicated:

The number of power steps available depends on the vehicle used; 3 to 5 steps are common. Higher step number means more power applied (speed will increase).

The power handle is controlled by using the keyboard's Z and A keys. Z increases power one notch; A decreases power one notch.

To the right, the position of the braking handle is indicated:

The number of brake steps available depends on the vehicle used; 5 to 8 steps are common. Higher step number means more braking (speed will decrease).

The brake handle is controlled by the keyboard's . (period) and , (comma) keys. . (period) increases braking one notch, , (comma) decreases braking one notch.

Emergency brakes are applied, using a Swedish keyboard, by pressing the * (star) key (the shift key should be pressed simultaneously). Using an UK or an US keyboard, the / (slash) key is used.

Dynamic or electric brakes cause braking by using the vehicle's electric motors, usually powering the vehicle, as generators. The kinetic energy of the train is converted to electrical energy that is fed back to the overhead wire to be used elsewhere, or is dissipated as heat in electrical resistors by diesel-electric vehicles.

2.3.1.1.2 One control

Screen dump of the indicators showing the position of the driving controls
Picture 7: Indication of the driving control's position in case of a combined master control handle

To the left, the reverser's position is indicated in the same way as with two control handles. The direction to move is also selected the same way using the up- and down-arrow keys.

To the right, the position of the master controller is indicated:

As for two handle vehicles, the number of power and brake steps will depend on which vehicle is used. The master controller is controlled by the keyboard's A and Z keys. Z decreases braking one step or increases power one step. A increases braking one step or decreases power one step.

If power is decreased with the A key all way down until the master controller position is indicated as N and the A-key is pressed again, braking will start and step up for each time the A-key is pressed. The Z works the opposite way decreasing braking down to the N indication, then stepping up power.

When a master controller is used, emergency brakes are applied by pressing the keyboard's Q key.

2.3.1.1.3 Old brake systems

The stepped braking action described above doesn't exist in old rail vehicles. Instead of a number of steps, there are only 3 positions for the brakes (plus emergency brakes):

While driving and the brakes should be fully released, the brake handle should be in the position RL. When brakes should be applied, the brake handle is moved to the SV position for a period enough to achieve the wanted braking force. Then the brake handle is quickly moved to the LP position to hold that amount of braking.

To adjust the braking, move the brake handle to SV or RL and the quickly back to LP.

The same keyboard keys described for modern braking systems in previous sections are also used with this old braking system.

Using this kind of brakes usually requires a bit of trial and error before a smooth braking can be performed at will. If there is a manometer (see section 2.3.1.4) showing the pressure in the brake pipe, it may help. You then learn about which brake pipe pressure is sufficient for various levels of braking force.

2.3.1.2 The speedometer

The speedometer may be of the traditional gauge type with a pointer or a digital type indicating the speed in numbers. In most vehicles, the speed is indicated as [km/h], with a few exceptions. Note that vehicles assigned to routes where permissible speed is set in [mph] may have speedometers displaying [km/h].

Screen dump of traditional gauge speedometer with pointer
Picture 8: Example of traditional speedometer

Screen dump of speedometer with digital readout, 3 digits
Picture 9: Example of speedometer with digital readout

2.3.1.3 The pilot lamp

The pilot lamp indicates if all doors at the train are closed or not. The train can not start if any door is open. The doors are opened automatically (by the conductor or the passengers) without any action from the train operator as soon as the train has stopped within the requested limits of a station or other stop stated in the timetable.

Screen dump of a pilot lamp on the driver's stand
Picture 10: Example of pilot lamp

Usually a lit pilot lamp indicates that all doors are closed. The opposite exists in a few vehicles. There may also be vehicles with 2 lamps: One lamp indicating doors open and one lamp indicating doors closed.

There is also another way to find out if the doors are closed or not, see section 2.3.2.3.

2.3.1.4 The manometers

Pressurized air is used by a train's braking system and other components. There are systems of various operating principles available. Those, however, should not be described here, else than that the operating principle of brake systems used in Japanese trains are usually not the same as used in Swedish trains.

Normally you don't have to pay attention to the manometers (pressure meters) while driving a simulation in BVE.

Pressures in various locations of the system can be indicated. Which pressures that in fact are indicated vary with the vehicle used. These are however the pressures that can be indicated in a BVE simulation:

Usually the pressure is indicated in the unit [kPa], but the unit [kg/cm2] may occasionally be used.

Screen dump of a manometer at the driver's stand
Picture 11: Example of a manometer indicating the main air reservoir pressure (red pointer) and the equalizing air reservoir pressure (black pointer)

Screen dump of another manometer at the driver's stand
Picture 12: Example of a manometer indicating the straight air pipe pressure (black pointer) and the brake cylinders pressure (red pointer)

2.3.1.5 The ATS display

There are a couple of safety systems simulated in BVE. They follow Japanese standards. The status of the safety system is indicated on the ATS display.

ATS-S is a safety system designed to prevent a vehicle passing a signal at danger. When a vehicle approaches a signal indicating stop/danger, an audible alarm starts. Should the train operator not acknowledge the alarm and apply brakes within 5 s the safety system will apply emergency brakes. Should the train operator in due time acknowledge the alarm and apply brakes, a reminder signal will sound which should not be reset until the vehicle has stopped for the red signal.

In BVE, the first alarm is acknowledged by pressing the space bar at the keyboard. Reset of the reminder signal is done with the keyboard's Insert key.

ATS-P is a safety system designed to prevent a train passing a signal at danger. The system calculates a speed curve of the necessary decrease of the vehicle's speed to be able to stop before a stop signal. Should the train operator at any location of the approach range before the stop signal maintain a speed >10 km/h higher than the system's calculated speed, ATS-P will apply service brakes until correct speed is achieved. Should a vehicle try to start and pass an exit signal in stop position, emergency brakes will be applied.

For those interested in further reading on these systems, there is an excellent article in the magazine Japan Railway & Transport Review no. 21, pages 44 to 50 (Adobe Acrobat document format).

Screen dump of the ATS diaplay with all indicator lamps lit
Picture 13: The ATS display

There are 10 indicator lamps at the ATS display. The 2 lowest placed indicator lamps, however, doesn't apply to the ATS system. Should a vehicle not be equipped for all ATS features, some indicator lamps are unused with no text on them.

The ATS system can be deactivated using the keyboard's Shift+F2. To activate the system again, use the keyboard's Ctrl+F2. When a simulation is loaded in BVE, the ATS system is activated by default. Should the ATS system have initiated an application of emergency brakes, the system must be reset by first deactivating it and then activating it again.

2.3.1.5.1 ATS

The ATS indicator lamp is lit (orange color) when ATS-S is activated.

2.3.1.5.2 ATS RUN

The indicator lamp is lit or flashing (red color) when ATS-S has detected a signal at danger and the driver has not acknowledged the audible alarm and applied brakes.

2.3.1.5.3 P POWER

The indicator lamp is lit (green color) when ATS-P is activated.

2.3.1.5.4 PTN APPROACH

Text currently missing!

2.3.1.5.5 BRAKE RELEASE

The indicator lamp is lit (green color) in 60 s when the train operator, using ATS-P, have requested the system to not apply brakes.

In BVE such a request is made by pressing the keyboard's End key. The request is valid those 60 s the indicator lamp is lit.

2.3.1.5.6 BRAKE APPLY

The indicator lamp is lit (orange color) when ATS-P has taken action by applying brakes.

2.3.1.5.7 ATS-P

The indicator lamp is lit (green color) when ATS-P is activated.

2.3.1.5.8 FAILURE

The indicator lamp is lit (red color) if a failure is detected in the vehicle's ATS control unit. It is also lit for a while when the system is activated after being deactivated.

2.3.1.5.9 EB

Some vehicles are equipped with a safety device rather similar to what is called a Dead man's handle. If the no controls of the vehicle, while it is in motion, are moved for 1 min, the EB indicator lamp is lit (green color) and an audible alert signal sounds. Should that signal not be acknowledged by the train operator within a few seconds, the train operator is assumed have falling in sleep or becoming ill and emergency brakes are automatically applied.

In BVE acknowledge of the EB alert is made by pressing the keyboard's Delete key.

2.3.1.5.10 CONST SPEED

Some vehicles are equipped with a usable help function that automatically hold the vehicle's speed the same as when the function is activated (similar to a car's cruise control). The CONST SPEED indicator lamp is lit (orange color) when the function is activated.

In BVE the function is activated by pressing the keyboard's backspace key (the key just above the Enter key, usually with a left-arrow on it).

2.3.1.6 Horn & sounds

To sound the horn, press the keyboard's Enter key. Some vehicles may have 2 independent horns. In that case, the other horn is sounded by pressing Shift+Enter.

There is a 3rd case, a continuous sound. It is not very common, but the most known example is the traditional bell on American engines. The bell is used as a warning for moving trains in stations, yards and similar places. Also Japanese trains may use continuous sounds, playing a short musical loop as a warning while approaching (over)crowded station platforms.

If it exists, the continuous sound is activated by pressing the keyboard's Ctrl+Enter keys. Pressing those keys again deactivates the continuous sound.

2.3.1.7 Acceleration & forces indicator

A simulator such as BVE cannot give the user an experience of the force acceleration and retardation (braking) causes. There is however an indicator added in BVE to give the user some information on these forces.

The indicator consists of two parts: The first is a pointer indicating the forces that are experienced by the passengers and how they feel about them. The second is a line indicating the amount of acceleration (increase of speed) or retardation (decrease of speed).

Screen dump of acceleration and & forces indicator
Picture 14: The acceleration & forces indicator

The pointer indicating the passengers' experience changes color depending on how the passengers are affected. A green pointer indicates a comfortable experience, but excessive forces and especially quick changes in experienced forces is indicated by the pointer changing color to yellow or, in worst case, red.

The pointers deflection' indicates the amount of force. The direction of deflection indicates if the force is pushing the passengers forward or backward (related to the train's direction of movement). If a large deflection occurs with a red pointer, the forces may have pushed seated passengers of their seats and caused standing passengers to fall.

Screen dump of the forces indicatior during acceleration   Screen dump of the forces indicator while full service brakes are applied
Picture 15 a: Indication during smooth acceleration:

Picture 15 b: Indication of the forces affecting passengers at the moment the train comes to a halt when emergency brakes have been applied:

While speed is increased the amount of acceleration is indicated by the length of the white line from the tip of the forces indicator pointer and downward. For an example, see picture 15 a.

While speed is decreased the amount of retardation is indicated the same way, except for that the whit line now goes upward from the end of the forces indicator pointer. For an example, see picture 14.

2.3.1.8 Curve radius

The radius of track curves is indicated by small white pole with a tip and adjacent numbers indicating the curve radius in meters.

Screen dump of curve radius indication, a small white pole with a tip and white digits
                  besides
Picture 16: Indication of a curve radius of 500 m

The origin of the symbol is probably Japanese. At Japanese railways a trackside curve radius marker is a little white pole with black digits painted on it.

2.3.1.9 Grade

The gradient of the track, uphill or downhill, is indicated by a white sign on a pole. The sign points slightly upwards from the pole if it is an uphill gradient, and points slightly downwards if it is a downhill gradient. The gradient is indicated in per mill [‰] using white digits adjacent to the sign symbol. One per mill gradient means that the track's level is changed 1 m for each 1000 m of track length.

Screen dump of an indication of a 3,0 ‰ uphill gradient
Picture 17: Indication of a 3,0 ‰ uphill gradient

Screen dump of an indication of a 6,2 ‰ downhill gradient
Picture 18: Indication of a 6,2 ‰ downhill gradient

The origin of the symbol is probably Japanese. At Japanese railways a trackside gradient marker is a white tilted sign with black digits painted on it.

2.3.1.10 Next light signal

The aspect of next light signal is shown at a greater distance than it is possible to see the signal at the trackside in the computer-generated graphics. Below the aspect the number or name of the signal is displayed.

This is a way to compensate in BVE 2 the fact that signals can not be seen in the simulation's graphics at such distance as in the real world.

Picture of a main light signal aspect showing one green and one yellow light
Picture 19: Example of indication of a light signal aspect

To find out what various signal aspects indicate, see section 3 Signs and signals.

2.3.1.11 Next sign signal

The aspect of next sign signal is shown at a greater distance than it is possible to see the signal at the trackside in the computer generated graphics.

This is a way to compensate in BVE 2 the fact that sign signals can not be seen in the simulation's graphics at such distance as in the real world.

Screen dump of sign signal with the number 35 in black on white bottom
Picture 20: Example of indication of a sign signal

To find out what various sign signal aspects indicate, see section 3 Signs and signals.

2.3.1.12 Next station

The name of the next station is shown while approaching it.

Screen dump of station name indicated shortly before entering a station
Picture 21: Example of indication of the name of next station

2.3.1.13 The stop position indicator

When stopping in a station, the stop should be made within 4 m of the appropriate station stop sign or stop sign. In case of more than one sign, the right sign to stop by should be used. For more on these signs, see section 3 Signs and signals.

As it is hard to accurately get a perception of distance within a few meters in a simulation on a computer screen, a helpful indicator is added in BVE:

A yellow line indicating the stopping point (the station stop sign or stop sign) is moving in relation to the pointer of the force indicator, the later in this case indicating the position of the train. The aim is to stop as close as possible to the location where these two lines meet.

Screen dump showing the stop point's yellow line and the train's position indicated by
                     the pointer of the forces indicator  Screen dump showing the stop point's yellow line and the train's position indicated by
                     the pointer of the forces indicator  Screen dump showing the stop point's yellow line and the train's position indicated by
                     the pointer of the forces indicator
Picture 22 a: The yellow line indicating a stop before the stopping point
Picture 22 b: The yellow line indicating a stop exactly by the stopping point
Picture 22 c: The yellow line indicating a stop after the stopping point

Should a stop happen to occur >m before the stopping point, correction is made by moving forward towards the stopping point.

Should a stop however occur >m after the stopping point, correction may be done by moving the reverser handle to Reverse and move in reverse direction towards the stopping point. Should the stopping point have been excessively overrun you have missed the station and have to continue forward to next station. This will really make the passengers angry.

When the train has stopped in a station, a message will be shown stating how close to the stopping point you managed to stop. See section 2.3.2.2

2.3.2 Help & additional information

At the bottom of the screen, just to the right of the menu button some additional information is found:

2.3.2.1 Mood of the passengers

The mood of the passengers are indicated in two ways: A happy or less happy face, and a colored bar. When passengers are happy and satisfied the bar indicator shows a green and rather short bar. The more their patience is tried, the longer the bar will be and the bar's color changes towards red.

Screen dump as example of an indication of passengers in a good mood
Picture 23: Indication of passenger's mood, in this example they are happy

2.3.2.2 Help messages

Below the bar indicator of the passengers' mood, there is a field where various messages from the simulator are prompted. It may be warnings, information or other notices. How many messages will be shown can be set by a menu option, see section 2.3.4.3 Advice Settings.

2.3.2.3 Time and door indication

By pressing Shift+F3 at the keyboard, indications of correct time (in the simulation) and if all doors on the train are closed or not are displayed in the lower right corner of the screen.

Time is shown in digits, while the doors are indicated as follows:

In most vehicles there is also a pilot lamp at the driver's stand indicating open or closed doors, see section 2.3.1.3 The pilot lamp.

2.3.2.4 Frame rate

By pressing the keys Shift+F3 twice (or once if Time and door indication as in the previous section already is activated) the frame rate in [fps] is indicated in real time. That may be useful during testing to compare results of various graphics settings.

2.3.3 Timetable

The timetable is shown in the upper right part of the screen if F4 is pressed at the keyboard. To hide the timetable, press F4 once again.

Should the timetable hold to many entries to be fully shown, it can be scrolled. To scroll down, use Shift+F4 at the keyboard. To scroll up, use Ctrl+F4 at the keyboard.

Screen dump of example of timetable
Picture 24: Example of timetable

For a station/stop entry in the timetable, there are some alternatives for the time entries. That is explained in the table below:

Table 1: Alternatives for time entries in the timetable
Time entries Example
Indication
Time of arrival and time of departure Screen dump of a timetable entry for a station with both arrival and departure
                         time entries
Delay is calculated on the arrival time. The driver will not receive a go signal from the conductor before the departure time (the exit signal may however show a proceed aspect well before the departure time)
Time of departure only Screen dump of a timetable entry for a station with only a departure time entry
The driver will not receive a go signal from the conductor before the departure time (the exit signal may however show a proceed aspect well before the departure time) No delay will be calculated
Red arrow Screen dump of a timetable entry for a station with a red arrow in the position of
                         the arrival time entry
No stop should be made at this station (if the signals allow the train to proceed without stop)
Time of arrival only Scren dump of a timetable entry for a station with only an arrival time entry and two
                         black lines in the position for the departure time entry
The final stop, delay is calculated on the arrival time

If a left-click with the mouse is made on an entry in the timetable, the simulation is moved to the time and location of that entry.

To open the menu, click the gray rectangular button at the lower left corner of the screen. A number of alternatives are available to select:

Screen dump of the menu and the button used to open it
Picture 25: Selection of the menu

2.3.4.1 Select Train

Shows the dialogue to select route and route alternative as described in section 2.2 from picture 2 and forward.

2.3.4.2 Restart

Restarts the current simulation from its beginning (same route and vehicle).

2.3.4.3 Advice Settings

Selects how much help messages will be shown to the user. There are 3 levels to select from:

  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

The higher the selected level, the less help messages will be shown.

2.3.4.4 Graphics Settings

Here 2 settings are available for the simulation's graphics. The setting Viewing Distance sets how far away graphic objects in a route will be displayed on the screen. Objects beyond the selected distance will not be shown.

If Disable fog effect is selected, any fog in the route will be disabled. Fog is not very common in BVE 2 simulations.

Screen dump of the dialogue for graphic settings
Picture 26: Graphic settings

To set viewing distance at 600 m and let fog effect be enabled gives the best graphics. But as in every gaming software, the best graphic settings also requires the most computer performance. A decrease of the viewing distance will often improve the frame rate if it is to low and disabling fog effect may also be tried in this case.

2.3.4.5 Control Settings

The normal way to control BVE is by the keyboard. It is however possible to use a joystick or a special control device, TS Master Controller, connected to the computer's serial (RS-232) port.

Screen dump of the dialogue for Control Settings
Picture 27: Control settings

The normal key assign alternative Assign 1 for the keyboard is used to assign keys to have the function as described at this web site.

The game control TS Master Controller is probably only available in Japan. A-too Co. Ltd in Shizuoka-shi has listed the TS Master Controller in their catalogue at a price of 15 000 ¥, that equals (in September 2015) 1 090 SEK, £80 or $122. More picture are available at this web site.

2.3.4.6 Display Mode Settings

This menu alternative shows the dialogue to select windowed or full screen mode for BVE, see section 2.2 picture 1. You cannot apply a changed mode without exiting and restarting the program.

If Show this dialog when program starts is selected, the dialogue box to select mode is displayed each time BVE is started.

If that alternative is not selected, the last used screen mode will be used at every start of BVE, no question asked. It is however always possible to select the Show this dialog when program starts alternative from the menu when BVE runs.

2.3.4.7 About

This alternative shows the version number of the installed BVE 2 program and copyright information.

2.3.4.8 Exit

Exits BVE.

2.5 Quick reference

Table 2: Keyboard controls for BVE 2
Key Function
Case of 1 master controller
Z Decrease braking/Increase power
A Increase braking/Decrease power
Q Emergency brakes
Case of 2 driving handles
Z Increase power
A Decrease power
 . (period) Increase brakes
 , (comma) Decrease brakes
 * (star - SWE)
 / (slash - UK & US)
Emergency brakes
Reverser
Up-arrow From neutral: Forward
From Reverse: Neutral
Down-arrow From neutral: Reverse
From Forward: Neutral
Sounds
Enter Horn no. 1
Shift+Enter Horn no. 2
Ctrl+Enter Continuous sound (bell, melody loop) on/off
ATS
Space bar Acknowledge ATS-S alarm
Insert Reset ATS-S reminder signal
End Disable ATS-P braking for 60 s
Ctrl+F2 Activate the ATS system
Shift+F2 Deactivate the ATS system
Other control systems
Backspace Constant speed control
Delete Acknowledge EB alert signal (Dead man's handle)
Timetable
F4 Show timetable on/off
Shift+F4 Scroll down in the timetable
Ctrl+F4 Scroll up in the timetable
Miscellaneous
F3 Passenger mood indication on/off
Shift+F3 Toggles between the following information in the lower right corner:
  1. Time and doors open/closed
  2. Frame rate [fps]
  3. Nothing

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