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We have been giving some thought recently as to how to make operation easier for railways that extend over several screens when many trains are out of sight. The zoom feature is useful of course in showing where trains are stopped at signals, and left-clicking a flashing train zooms in at that location, but it would be better to know when a train is approaching a red signal so as to take action before it stops and preferably before it begins to slow down. With that in mind we have developed an ‘Actions due’ panel, containing a list of train headcodes with times to act in timetable minutes, in ascending time order. This panel is displayed by left clicking a new button with an hourglass icon.  Left clicking a headcode brings the train selected (or the entry point for trains not yet running) to the centre of the display, with the mouse hovering over it and displaying status and timetable information when these are selected. This feature proved to be a lot more complex in implementing than we thought it would be, so it has taken some weeks to develop, but it seems to work ok now. The user manual and online help have a new section ‘Actions due’ that explains how the feature works in more detail. We hope you find it as useful as we do when operating large railways.

A second feature available during build is to ‘paste with attributes’ after cutting an area of railway. We often find that we want to modify the layout of a submitted railway so that it fits better on a screen with a different resolution to that on which it was developed. When using the normal cut and paste functions all preferred directions, track lengths, speed limits and location names are lost. This new feature retains all these attributes so they don’t have to be re-entered, which can be quite a big job. Any new track elements needed to link to the repositioned area need appropriate new attributes setting of course, and if the cut area includes any train entry points then the timetable will need to be altered to reflect the changed element identifiers.

A few other minor alterations have been made as follows:

a)  The ‘End’ key on the numeric keypad can now be used to toggle the zoom function on and off, providing Numlock isn’t on.

b)  The earlier letter keys ‘w’, ‘s’, ‘a’ and ‘d’ that could be used to move the display up, down, left or right as well as the keyboard arrow keys have been dropped. The arrow keys still work as before, but conflicts arose with the hotkeys introduced in the last version. No-one reported this so we assume that they weren’t generally used, and keyboard movement is much less necessary since the ability to drag the display using the right mouse button was introduced.

c)  The need to set 256 compatibility mode for Windows 10 may have been solved – almost by accident! It occurred to us to try out different colours for the various panels instead of using the default system colours set by Windows. These became transparent in Windows 10 obscuring the text that was incorporated, especially on the floating panel used for track and train information. Hey presto – providing solid colours are used there is no transparency!  We set the colours to match the earlier ones so there won’t appear to be any difference. Compatibility with earlier operating systems will probably still be needed for high dpi settings and perhaps for other circumstances, but hopefully the colour compatibility issue has gone away.

d)  We discovered that performance scores for excess level crossing barrier down times weren’t being saved in session files (operating Anthony Sheehy’s Eastbourne, Newhaven & Seaford railway revealed this when performance scores went up after reloading a session!) This oversight has now been corrected.

As ever please let us know if anything unexpected occurs when using these features and send in any error files that are generated. We have tested them extensively but it’s quite likely that we’ve overlooked some sets of circumstances, so there may still be bugs that need correction.

The new version is available under the ‘Download’ tab.

We hope you find the new features useful.

The ROS team

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