New Valocea Map and national rail info!

Two posts for the price of one! First, the map. It’s been a while, but I’ve made extensive changes/additions and it’s time to post up a new one…

yay progress

yay progress

As before, I’ll detail the changes on this map compared to the previous one from April. Continue reading

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After a long absence, back to Valocea!

So recently, with things calming down after the tumultuous last few months, I’ve found my head back in Valocea again. Still working on the mapping, the planning, and of course, the transit.

One thing that I found myself thinking about a few days ago, is how far it’s come since its original inception. I started reflecting back on how this project came to be, and what kinds of decisions I’ve made (and what I’ve learned from it), and it’s kind of crazy how much it’s changed. The original concept, of course, wasn’t for a country at all, but a state that would be added to the existing US. The idea was to change the shape of the continent – specifically, the Pacific Northwest – to allow for enough extra land to accommodate a 51st state. Basically, it would have been something like this… Continue reading

Valocea Project – history of public transit during the late 20th and early 21st centuries (part 2)

Below is part 2 of the history of public transport in Valocea. Find part 1 here. This half of the post contains a few links at various points to pages detailing some of the transit vehicles mentioned (and in one case, detailing a referenced train station). These links serve to give the reader a slightly better visual concept of what is being discussed. At some point in the (hopefully near) future, I’ll be putting together a post which focuses on vehicles and stations, describing them much more extensively and featuring a large number of links to images and information pages (basically, this future post will do for transit vehicles and stations what the Lennvale post did for that city). Continue reading

Valocea Project – history of public transit during the late 20th and early 21st centuries (part 1)

Following on from this post, in which I described what the character of Lennvale as a city is, we now turn our attention to Valocea’s public transit. This post (which is presented in two parts, because it’s REALLY long) details out the history of Valocea’s ground mass transit from the 1960s to the present. It gives an overview of the general nature of transit during each decade, focusing on significant developments, though it generally does not go into great detail about each specific era (which would require many posts of this size). As mentioned above, this is quite long – mainly I just wanted to get all of this information written down somewhere so it wouldn’t all just be vague notions in my head. Of course, I figured I might as well post it here, too, despite how huge it is, so without further ado, here we go…

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Valocea Project – sources of inspiration and the character of a city

Throughout the entirety of this project’s existence, I’ve been a frequent lurker and… not-always-so-frequent poster in a thread over at the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board, which by the way is a pretty cool site and an invaluable resource (especially the wiki) for anyone who wants to know more about North American public transportation. The thread in question, called “Anyone create their own transit system?” and being about exactly what you’d think based on the title, has been around a lot longer than I’ve been posting there (I first posted in it during December of 2012), and is in fact what originally sparked the idea of the whole Valocea thing in the first place. As I detail out in my history post, the idea of creating a fictional transit system had a lot of appeal, but of course, I needed somewhere to put it, so I started thinking up a city, which needed to exist somewhere in the real world, so I made up a US state, and then finally I realized that for my fictional place to be part of the US meant there’d be way too many constraints on it. Thus, the country of Valocea was born, and the project expanded far beyond what I thought it would originally be. Not that this is a bad thing; I’ve enjoyed all the time I’ve spent on it and intend to follow through with the idea of creating the entire country, not just one city and a transit system, in as much detail as I can muster.

That said, with all the mapping and figuring I was doing for the nation as a whole, the original concept – developing one city (Lennvale) and focusing on transit aspects – have received relatively little attention. Recently, that’s begun to change, as I’ve picked up a “Modern City” add-on for CC3 and begun planning out how I’ll map the city of Lennvale using that. And, at the same time, I’ve been putting together notes on just what rolling stock is used by V-Net, the country’s national rail operator. Continue reading

Return to Valocea – national rail information

I haven’t been posting about the Valocea Project much lately, because – while I have been working on it – I’ve not been working in a way that would be conducive to updates. It’s been a lot of random thoughts and notes while learning the ins and outs of a new mapping style in CC3 (“Modern City”, which will be used to map Lennvale itself – and potentially other cities as well down the road). But, recently, I’ve managed to work out some details on Valocea’s state-owned intercity transportation system.

Previously, I’d come up with the term “V-Net”, which is short for “Valocean National Transportation Network.” The idea was that this agency was basically the country’s department of transportation by a different name – they’d manage highways, set regulations, run the rail lines, etc. But, I wanted a separate name for the actual intercity passenger rail (and bus) lines. For that, I came up with “VN Transit.” The problem is that I was never totally happy with that. For one thing, it’s not the smoothest name to pair with some of these other words – “VN Transit Intercity” or “VN Transit train #505”. A bit cumbersome. And even beyond that, there was something else about it that bugged me, and I finally put my finger on it recently. It doesn’t have the right scope; it sounds very local or regional, not national. The word “transit”, while it technically could encompass passenger rail by definition, is usually associated with local (or, at most, regional or inter-regional, i.e. GO Transit in southern Ontario) transit systems when it comes to how the word is used in agency names, especially here in North America.

So, I asked the people in the message board thread I’ve been posting in about this project (the thread is about the idea of creating a fictional transit system, on a board dedicated to public transportation discussion), and one of them, a fellow poster by the name of George L, gave me a great idea: VINE. “Valocean Intercity National Express.” Not only does this sound good and make sense (and is neat because it evokes the image of interconnected “vines” of rail and bus lines through Valocea), but I had even thought previously that the livery on the trains could be something with stylized, flowing lines that would look a bit like vines or plant life, in Valocea’s national colors (green, blue, and white). So it all ties together nicely as a theme!

I thought it over some more, and realized that the idea of V-Net being the DOT and managing everything didn’t really work all that well. So I abolished that idea, re-thought the whole organizational structure, and have now worked out the following:

  • The Valocean government’s Transportation Department is the highest level in this tree. They oversee all state-level concerns for transportation matters of all types, set rules and regulations, manage the national highway system, etc. Not yet sure exactly what the official name of this entity will be (“Valocean DOT” vs something else, i.e. in Canada it’s called “Transport Canada”), but I’ll work that out later.
  • V-Net (Valocean National Transportation Network, as noted above, though I am considering dropping the word “National”) is a division within the above, and is the agency responsible for state-level rail and bus operations. This is similar to the SNCF in France (and, like the SNCF, V-Net actually owns the vast majority of the track it uses and also manages freight rail operations – Valocea doesn’t have private freight rail companies. Instead, shipping companies contract with V-Net to get their stuff onto the freight trains).
  • VINE (Valocean Intercity National Express – thanks again, George L!) is the name of the main set of services operated by V-Net’s passenger rail (and bus) section, comprising numerous intercity routes throughout the country, the majority of which travel through multiple regions and make relatively few stops (generally calling only at major stations within a city). The context of what the term VINE means, or how it would be used in conversation, is similar to how the term “TGV” would be used in relation to rail services, and the agencies that run them, in France. So, a route is a “VINE route.” One will “take VINE” (or “take a VINE train”) in the same way that you’d “take the TGV”. But the operating agency is V-Net, like the TGV’s operating agency is SNCF.
  • There are other services operated by V-Net which are not, technically, VINE routes. For exmaple: the LVX (Lennvale-Vancouver Express), which runs between those two cities and makes very few other stops. It has its own livery and while it is run by the same entity and obviously is very similar to many of the VINE lines, it is not, technically, one of them. Other examples could be a line that has a specific name/history/livery, and rather than just absorb it into VINE, they chose to keep it around with the original name under V-Net management, or a line that simply doesn’t meet the criteria of “intercity” and/or “express” (the line is too small or too slow), but is still operated by V-Net.

There are a few details of who does what in relation to some logistical stuff that I still need to determine (as well as the question of whether high-speed rail lines will be considered a special subset of VINE, or will have their own, separate name and identity), but that’s the foundation of the whole thing. Really glad to have that worked out!

New Valocea map

Man, I have been neglecting this blog!  Haven’t posted anything in months.  A lot of real life stuff was getting in the way.  WordPress has redesigned the look of the dashboard since the last time I actually made a post!  I think I like the new look; it pops more and looks brighter.

I do plan to start doing a little more with this place soon, since I should have more going on worth posting about soon; some more details on story ideas I’m working on, for one.

But for now: have the latest Valocea map.  There have been some fairly significant changes this time around: I decided I wanted even more total land area to the main island.  Yeah, I know, it wasn’t exactly small to begin with, but I looked it over, and decided I wanted to have a little more to work with.  There was one main reason for this, actually, which I’ll get into below the break.  Here is the map:

After this, if I want to make the landmass any bigger, I'll need to increase the size of the map itself!

After this, if I want to make the landmass any bigger, I’ll need to increase the size of the map itself!

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Valocea Project – part 4

PART 4: History of the project

So WHY, one might ask, am I trying to develop a fictional country set in the real world with a peculiarly obsessive focus on the transit systems of said country?

I was casually interested in transit related topics for quite a while, but really got into it (as well as into some vehicle fanning – taking some photos and identifying different models, etc.) only within the last couple years.  It was at that time that I found this place, which is a pretty cool site to discuss transit-y things and get information.  In one of the sub-forums, there was a long discussion (which had started years before I even knew this site existed) titled “Anyone create their own transit system?” Continue reading

Valocea Project – part 3

(Post header photo of Muni’s 38 Geary standby lineup taken by me)

PART 3: Overview of public transit concepts – section B (SATA/Lennvale transit overview, stations and ridership, transit core, modes of service, realism and idealism of the project as it relates to transit)

Part 2 dealt with transit at a national and regional level.  Drilling down further, nearly every major city (perhaps just “every major city”, without exception) has extensive local transit, ranging from surface street city buses and streetcars to light rail and/or subway systems, to express/commuter buses and rail lines.  Bus Rapid Transit has, in recent years, taken off fairly well in a number of cities, and dedicated bus-only lanes are quite common throughout many systems.  Participation in the V-Net program requires that fares be implemented within certain ranges; thus, all V-Net transit services (including VN Transit itself) utilize a zone-based system, with fares increasing with the number of zones one travels through.  The exact pricing is based on the model used by SATA, the transit agency serving the greater Lennvale metropolitan area. Continue reading

Valocea Project – part 2

(Beautiful TGV Thalys photo in post header by Ad Meskens)

PART 2: Overview of public transit concepts – section A (introduction, high-speed/intercity/regional/commuter rail, V-Net, practices & policies)

I mentioned before that in all likelihood, there was one thing that would receive more attention than any other single subject in this project: Valocea’s transit systems.  The reason for this is that my love of all things transit-y motivated me to begin work on my own, fictional system.  Which is actually how this project got started.  That would make for a nice segue into an explanation of… how this project got started, but the whole history of this crazy thing, from original inception to current state, will have to be laid out in its own post, since it would be too long to add it to this one.

What follows here is a run-down of some of those transit systems in their current form.  This part will focus mainly on passenger rail, from intercity to commuter.  Information about intracity transit systems, including those in Lennvale, will come in the “B” section, which will be its own post.  As this entire project is still in a fairly early stage, there are still a lot of gaps to fill in, but that will change over time, of course.  That said, I know a lot more about the nature of the transit systems than I do anything else as of yet, which shouldn’t be surprising after reading the first paragraph of this post. Continue reading