Tag Archives: Train Simulator

Best Train Simulator 2019

I have some personal enthusiasm for trains, and last years part of that has been playing Train Simulator on PC. That is the game that used to be called Railworks and that currently is named Train Simulator 2019. While I have spent much time with it I also have mixed feelings.

In 2019 there are two alternatives to TS2019 that I have tested and that I will write about: Train Sim World and Trainz Railroad Simulator 2019.

My experience with Dovetail Train Simulator (2019)

I got Train Simulator because I wanted to try to drive trains. The game has developed over the years but there are some annoyances.

The game has some quirks and bugs. The physics, engines, wagons, signals, AI and scenario conditions sometimes don’t work in a way you would expect.

The game is also rather unforgiving. One little mistake can ruin a scenario so you can’t even continue. If that was passing a red light, ok. But sometimes I am just a little late, a little early, I connected or disconnected the wrong wagon, I went into the wrong siding or something like that.

The combination of bugs and being unforgiving is rather frustrating. When there is a little inperfection in the game I can perhaps accept the lack of good simulation experience, but if it ruins the scenario completely, it is worse.

The game has a competitive aspect (it is a game) where you drive scenarios and get scores. This is particularly unforgiving. Decouple a wagon and for some reason (bug?) I get “operational error”, being penalised with -750 points (1000 is max), and I have no choice but aborting the scenario. Also, speeding is penalised heavily. This is annoying for two reasons: first the time table is often ridiculously tight, second it is not uncommon that maximum allowed speed changes unexpectedly.

You can read about the outdated graphics of TS2019 and that is true, but it does not ruin my experience. You can read about all the expensive DLC, but that is your choice (I bought some, but most everything on sales). What I find more annoying is that I buy a nice piece of DLC and it comes with very few scenarios. That is where the (Steam) workshop comes in and there are quite many scenarios (of varying quality) do download.

I found that creating scenarios was often more fun than driving myself and I have contributed some 44 scenarios on Steam Workshop. If driving is quirky, creating scenarios is kind of black magic (the problem is I need to test it, and when it fails after 40 minutes, I need to guess whats wrong and drive again for 40 minutes until I know if it works – a horrible development and debugging experience).

It seems to me it would be very possible to deliver a better Train Simulator game!

On Realism

It is easy to talk about realism. But is it really what we want. My experience…

  • Some routes allow for long eventless sessions. That is the realistic truth about driving a train, but how entertaining is it?
  • A real challenge when driving a train is breaking and planning your breaking. The weight and length of the train matters, as long as other factors. In the real world a train engineer makes calculations about breaking distances. They are not going to be driving a new train, with unknown weight, on a new track on a tight time schedule. Yet in a train simulator this is what we do, because we want (much) variation (it is a somewhat boring game anyways).
  • A real engineer knows the line well, and has special physical documentation about the line available. And he has studied this before. You don’t do that in a train simulator.
  • A real engineer spends much time checking things like breaks and wheels. And there is much waiting.
  • You can have a realistic “regulator”, that you can operate in the locomotive cab. That will look realistic in one way. But a real engineer would not point and look at it with a mouse, he just happens to have his hand there in the first place. User-friendly, where man-machine becomes one, is good simulation to me.
  • Real(istic) timetables are good, but not when it is almost impossible to arrive on time in the simulator.

My point is that I don’t want a realistic simulator. I want a simulator that gives me the feeling I am driving a train. And I want the time I spend with my computer to be more eventful, entertaining and challenging that the average work hour of a train engineer. And also somewhat more forgiving and I want support with things that are easier in the real world.

Train Sim World

Train Sim World is produced by the same company (Dovetail) as Train Simulator 2019. It appears they thought of it as a replacement for Train Simulator 2019, but it also appears that for now the games exist side by side. It is not clear that Train Sim World will ever replace, or even survive, Train Simulator 2019.

The good:

  • It looks (the graphics) better than the alternatives.
  • It may be the most “polished” option (also available for Playstation and Xbox, which gives you a hint).
  • If you get a “package” at discounted price on Steam (EUR25 for 4 routes) it is quite good value.

The bad:

  • It does not look that good; it is still computer graphics with obvious artifacts and problems. Also, the sound is not too convincing and the surroundings are pretty dead.
  • Walking around (in the scenarios) does not appeal to me, and it is not well made enough to add to the realism of the game.
  • Menus are a bit messy.
  • Quite limited number of scenarios, but plenty of “services”, but I think that contributes to (even) less events, action and storytelling.
  • The routes seem small, and very little action or room outside the mainline (like very linear).
  • Occational glitches like “what do I do now”, “what happens next” or “how do I do that”? (driving a service, I was done, told to get off, the train drove away by itself with no visible driver or no comments, and then nothing… had to just quit).
  • It lacks something. Like its not a bit dirty, noisy and rough… but just too smooth and clean.
  • So far, no possibility for user generated content. It is promised, and it will be based on Unreal, so it seems to be very technically demanding. I myself would prefer to be able to make scenarios with a story easily, without changing anything about the route or the other assets at all.
  • Unreal (which is to thank for the better graphics) seems to be a more complex (expensive) development environment, and perhaps this will limit in the future the availability or routes and assets, and make the price high (pure speculation).

I did give Train Sim World a first try, wrote a very negative review, refunded it, but after a few weeks I gave it a new try, and now I have a more balanced opinion about it.

Trainz Railroad Simulator 2019

Years ago I obviously did research and opted for Train Simulator rather than Trainz. Now that I was a bit disappointed with Train Simulator and rather disappointed with Train Sim World I felt I had to give Trainz 2019 a try.

My expectations based on marketing and what I read was:

  • Better graphics than Train Simulator, but perhaps not as good as Train Sim World.
  • More creator-, community- and sharing oriented (which appealed to my preference to making scenarios).
  • It’s a railroad simulator, rather than a train driver simulator.

I must say right away that I am quite disappointed. I ended up paying EUR 70 for Trainz, and EUR 25 for Train Sim World, and that does not reflect the value of what I got.

Download Station

Trainz comes with “its own Steam Workshop, Download Station”. This is the worst part of it. Hundreds of assests, organised alphabetically, with virtually no filtering and no community/feedback/rating function. Unless I completely missed something, this is shit. My use case is that I want to see if someone created a nice 30 min session for one of the premium routes that came with my purchase (and that has no extra dependencies). Trainz seems to live in the world where people download zip-files from ftp-servers and spend the effort of maintaining their virtual asset library like the stock portfolio. I am tempted to make a few sessions myself, and sharing them here, on my blog, but why?


There is something idyllic, picturesque, beautiful and friendly about Trainz that is missing in Train Simulator and Train Sim World. There are gorgeous screenshots from Trainz out there. But when it comes to actual game performance on my actual computer (a NUC Hades Canyon) Trainz is the worst. I have been spending not so little time optimizing my graphics settings (and there are many settings to play with).


To my disappointment the routes come with quite few sessions. The beatiful route from Edinburg to Aberdeen (perhaps just to Dundee) has two sessions: a passenger service with the same Deltic locomotive going both ways. These two scenarios both take 1h30min each to drive. And the one I did try did not work in CAB (realistic) drive mode, because for some reason the Deltic can not pull those wagons with any speed whatsoever. Isn’t it reasonable to expect when a new EUR 70 release is made after 7 years, that the sessions are tested at least once, and working?

Then there was another beautiful session on the Cornish mainline where a 2MT steam locomotive pulls ~25 freight wagons and it just can’t make it up the grades. I asked in the forum and I had managed to get further than most people, but the suggestion was to just try another locomotive (edit the session). Why release a session with the wrong locomotive in the first place?

If driving steam locomotives in realistic mode can be a challenge in Train Simulator (often a frustrating one), in Trainz it feels… not realistic. Perhaps I need more practice, but it is very… unsmooth.

Other things

There is no support for a Gamepad (although I found a little software called AntiMicro) which works decently well for my purposes.

I really miss the look-out-throw-the-side-window camera view.

I appreciate that I can see the status of the next signal in the HUD.

When I have completed a session it does not remember (marked as completed) so I made my own list

A good thing about Trainz is that it is more forgiving than Train Simulator. I ran out of boiler pressure, but then I could switch to simple driving mode and at least complete the session.

I get the feeling that for people who already own and love the old Trainz this is an upgrade. But for a new player it is a rough experience.

Conclusion and recommendation

Unfortunately I think none of the games I have written about live up to the expections you should allow yourself to have in 2019. And I am not aware of a better game in the genre.

Clearly this genre appeals to enthusiasts who want to make their own assets and modify the game, and clearly Train Simulator and Trainz are based on old technology that have not aged too well (and people are reluctant to abandon their assets). Train Sim World, being based on Unreal, has not been able to deliver a workshop- or sharing-experience at all, yet.

If you are curious about how it is to drive a train, get Train Sim World (and an Xbox controller if you get it on PC, I know nothing about the Playstation/Xbox experience). Sit comfortably, turn up the volume, have some coffee (or whatever you drink) and do your best to enjoy the experience. Spend time with the tutorials and dont get too frustrated if you get stuck.

If you want to have your own digital train layout, and play with it (dispatch and control multiple trains), get Trainz, and make sure to have a powerful enough computer.

If you think that Steam workshop is a nice idea where you can share scenarios (and other assets) and communicate with other people about them get Train Simulator 2019. Cost/price aside, there are very many routes (and extra locomotives) available for Train Simulator 2019.

Train Simulator 2019 now supports 64-bit mode. Technically its not… hot… but it is being improved. Train Sim World looks better, but it is not that much better. Honestly, folks who make a living reviewing computer games say: “TS2019 looks so old, but TSW is built on Unreal like all the other cool games, much better.” But for your total train simulation experience, the difference is… marginal.

I would not be too surprised if the Train Sim World Editor never happens. If it is released I would not be surprised if it is too complex and a critical portion of contributors and enthusiasts never switch. The advice to enthusiasts to “Download the UE4 Editor from Epic and start learning”, I am sceptical about it. I doubt I will contribute scenarios if I have to get into a real 3D studio to place some trains and make some timetables/rules.

I would hope that Trainz gets a real workshop experience where you can easily share assets in a social way and where you don’t need to worry too much about dependencies. And I would hope that Trainz manages to polish their game, test it properly, and provide a solid graphics experience.

Train Sim World Review

I have been playing Train Simulator (up to 2019 just recently) for some years and I have mixed feelings for it. So I decided to try the “successor” Train Sim World. I will get straight to the point and say that I requested a refund from Steam after 104 minutes (despite getting the Digital Deluxe edition at 55% discount). Perhaps you may think I can not properly judge a game after just 104 minutes? Perhaps 104 minutes was more time than I should have spent.

The Graphics
The big thing about Train Sim World is supposed to be its state-of-the-art Unreal 4 graphics engine, compared to the “outdated” engine of Train Simulator. I think… it looks better, but not that much better. I think TS2019 with a decent GPU and 64-bit-edition looks pretty decent. And TSW did not look that amazing. But that was not the problem…

1st person perspective
In TSW you can walk around. You can enter and exit your locomotive. Thats ok, but I don’t really care. However in the first Scenario (Great Western Express) I had to take a local service to Paddington. So I had to, in game, spend 10 min on a commuter train. I could not figure out how to sit down, so I could not really look out through the windows and enjoy the view. And the interior of that commuter train was not amazing and there were some reflexes (I guess) that gave pretty ugly artifacts. It took me 20 minutes in a mostly empty commuter train and walking around in a mostly empty Paddington station until I was actually in my drivers seat. Not fun.

The Driving UI
The view from the drivers seat looks good. Both in TS and TSW there are basically four ways to do (the most common) things:

  1. Using the mouse to click/drag in the HUD
  2. Using the keyboard
  3. Using an Xbox gamepad
  4. Using the mouse/pointer to manipulate the actual instruments, buttons and levers in the cabin.

This is listed in the order I learnt it in Train Simulator. The HUD was easy to start with but not too comfortable. The keyboard was more comfortable and the gamepad even more so. For long relaxed drives I sit back using the gamepad. But for intense and precise shunting operations I bring out the mouse. I never really bothered with #4.

But #1 does not work in TSW. The HUD is view-only. So there is no button on the screen that clearly loads/unloads passengers. You have to click TAB to get a menu in the middle of the screen. I think it was great in TS that there was a simple control-with-mouse interface at the bottom of the screen that had everything I needed! Then I could use keyboard, gamepad or the cabin buttons as I preferred.

TS had an interactive and useful HUD at the bottom of the screen. And a task menu to the left that could be opened when needed. But TWS clutters the forward, outward, view with information. It is not pretty. The markers (for speed and signal color) completely destroy the beautiful view. You can turn it off but you need that information somewhere. You can get it in the HUD, but it shows up covering the landscape outside.

Its possibly I spent too little time with the new UI. But I really didn’t like it. And it was hard to use and learn.

Scenario Tasks
For some reason you can not see all your tasks from the beginning. What is that!? Isn’t the train driver supposed to know the timetable in advance to be able to plan ahead? And I did have problems completing tasks. In the EM2000 freight scenario “Aggregate Industries” I was supposed to activate Slow Speed Control. Not only was it unheard of, and I needed to find a little button with the right tooltip (not knowing if I am in a hurry or not), but clicking the button never completed the task and I could not complete (or even begin, actually) the scenario.

Scenarios and Services
The Great Western Express DLC comes with 3 locomotives and 5 scenarios! Perhaps more can be unlocked, but what is that? On the other hand there are very many “services”, being able to run any train on the time schedule. Thats ok, but then no information about duration or difficulty.

Well, this was just some of my impressions. But I was disappointed and frustrated after almost two hours with TSW and I feel relieved that my refund was accepted.

Since TSW is also for consoles (Xbox, PS) I would have expected a nice, smooth, beautiful, polished driving experience where I could relax with my gamepad and see, hear almost feel the power of the engine and the landscape flying by. Instead I got a slow boring confused first-person-shooter-experience where I felt lost in a runaway train.

Scenarios for Hedborough North

I created a scenario for the Hedborough North route for Train Simulator. Unfortunately, it can not be published to workshop. So I publish it here.

English Summer Rain
Diesel freight, shunting and train spotting in a 45 minute long scenario taking place in the picturesque Hedborough North industrial estate, a very rainy morning. Download: English Summer Rain

Scenarios for other routes
Granfield Branch

Scenarios for GNoSR

I found a beautiful little route for Train Simulator on Workshop: GNoSR. Unfortunately, since the route is not “Final” it is not possible to upload scenarios to it, to Workshop.

I created a scenario for GNoSR, and perhaps there will be more in the future. The scenario is downloadable as an .rwp-file, which is installed with the utilities.exe-program in the railworks folder. As always, please report any problems with the scenario, otherwise I can not fix it.

Scenario 1: Mixed Train to Heith
Drive a mixed train to Heith, stopping at all stations and picking up freight wagons along the way. Duration: 60 minutes. Download: Mixed Train To Heith.

Scenario 2: Petroleum Freight
Drive a heavy freight train with Marine Fuel from Heith to Portbyvie. Duration: 70 minutes. Download: Petroleum Freight.

There should be no additional dependencies or requirements apart from those of GNoSR (Woodhead Line, Western Lines of Scotland and Falmouth Branch). Please let me know if you have problems with this.

Other versions
I consider making other versions of the same scenario, perhaps with the Robinson O4, the Standard 2MT or the 3MT Jinty. But I may not bother if I get no interest whatsoever in the original.

It seems the route and scenarios are available on UKTS. I personally find UKTS to be too much work and too many dependencies. My scenario is for the Steam version of the route, and I want people who just use Steam to have some fun with GNoSR.

Scenarios for other routes
Granfield Branch
Hedborough North

Problems with LMS 3F Jinty and Timetables

Update 2013-08-12
I contacted Meshtools and they quickly replied and gave me a workaround as well as an explaination. The problem has to do with the brakes of the Advanced LMS 3F. The easiest workaround is to hook up the locomotive to (fitted) stock from the beginning of the scenario – then the timetable is generated correctly.

I like the LMS 3F Jinty tank locomotive for Train Simulator 2013, and I wrote two scenarios for the Advanced version of it, and published to Steam. But the other day when I was writing a third scenario, I encountered weird problems with the Advanced version – the Standard version still works fine.

The problem is that the Advanced version produces a very bad timetable. That is, every move takes about 10x longer time than it should (comparing to the Standard version). It is impossible to make reasonable scenarios this way. My findings are:

  • The Advanced 3F performs normally when I drive it, just the timetable is weird
  • The “old” scenarios are not affected (I can both edit them and drive them)
  • Resetting the Game Cache (from within TS) does not help
  • Verify Integrity of Game Cache (from Steam) does not help
  • Reinstalling TS2013 completely does not help
  • The problem happens on several routes that I have tested
  • The problem happens to all ADV versions of LMS 3F, but to no STD versions
  • It is not possible to compensate by setting 750% performance
  • Using RW Tools to replace a STD version with an ADV version generates a corrupt scenario
  • The problem does not seem to affect the J94 ADV version (from the same author as LMS 3F), although I have not tried a single one of all the variants.

I believe, since TS2013 is regularly updated via Steam, some kind of update/fix to TS2013 has somehow broken LMS 3F ADV. This update should have been released the last days of July or the first days of August. I think I checked the LMS 3F files in the filesystem, and none of them seemed to be updated during this time, so I believe it was TS2013 itself. Since the LMS 3F Manual clearly states that the AI is not capable of driving the Advanced version, it makes some sense that an update to TS2013 could generate problems with this loco (perhaps the Timetable generator simply fails to release the brakes).

I have been in contact with Railsimulator support. It has so far not resulted in anything. I am now simply trying to file a bug report. I consider to contact Meshtools directly.

It would be very interesting if someone else can confirm (or deny) this problem. Just put a LMS 3F Jinty ADV anywhere on any route, and schedule it to go a few miles. If it takes a few minutes it is ok. If it takes more than an hour, you also have the problem.

Scenario to Granfield Branch

I created a few scenarios for Falmouth Branch and Train Simulator 2013 that I have published to Steam Workshop. Then I came up with the not so bright idea to create a scenario for the Granfield Branch, but it can not be published to Steam Workshop because Granfield Branch is not on Steam anymore (I think it was available with a Class 111 a while ago). So I decided to publish it here, as an old Railworks package. I have no idea if you can use it with the UKTS version of Granfield Branch (which you can probably get from UKTS) or if it is only usable with the Steam version.

Scenario: Hall to Granfield

As always feedback on the scenario is appreciated.

Scenarios for other routes
Hedborough North

Train Simulator 2013 Scenario Editor Findings

With Steam Workshop it is quite easy to contribute scenarios for Train Simulator 2013 to the community. However, creating scenarios is not very easy. There is a Train Simulator 2013 Creator Manual – but it does not tell you everything you need to know. In this article, I write my own findings about creating scenarios.

Consider this work in progress. My experiences are mostly from Falmouth Branch.
Updates 2013-08-03: I have added some more findings after trying to make scenarios for Western Lines of Scotland.

Editor Crashing
The Scenario Editor crashes a lot. Get used to it. Save often. The easiest way to save is to click the little “play button” (that starts the simulation, but only if you click it twice), not the big “play button” that actually starts the scenario. Inside Timetable View there is also a save button. Use it.

Backup scenarios
It happens that scenarios get corrupted. I suggest, now and then, clone the scenario you are working with, so you have a few historical backups of it. When you are done, get rid of the backups. Sometimes I have found myself having to recreate a 30-40 step timetable for the player train, when I thought I was 99% done. It sucks. My suggestion is add -b1, -b2, -b3 to the end of the scenario name for each backup. That way you keep your backups in order.

Hidden errors
New 2013-08-03
Some errors in your scenario shows up not immediately, not when you save, but when you actually (re)load the scenario. This happens when you simulate, or when you actually test drive. And some errors/problems can actually go away: in particular, sometimes a red signal turns green the second time you try.

UKTS Assets
UKTS has provide Freeware Packs. Fantastic stuff! However, the assets (Wagons) are installed into Train Simulator in a not very nice way. On my computer, I have:

 Volume in drive S is Steam
 Volume Serial Number is 3CCF-0E61

 Directory of S:\Steam\steamapps\common\railworks\Assets

05/11/2013  06:51 PM          .
05/11/2013  06:51 PM          ..
12/12/2012  07:36 PM          Castlerock
05/11/2013  06:51 PM          DT
12/12/2012  07:38 PM          EisenbahnwerkRW
12/12/2012  07:38 PM          G-TraX
12/12/2012  07:38 PM          GermanRailroadsRW
12/12/2012  07:38 PM          keithmross
12/12/2012  07:43 PM          Kuju
12/26/2012  10:29 PM          RSC
12/12/2012  07:47 PM          RSDL
12/12/2012  07:47 PM          SJCRW
12/12/2012  07:48 PM          vR_AddOn1
               0 File(s)              0 bytes
              13 Dir(s)  39,932,166,144 bytes free

Most of the “standard” assets included with the game goes to Kuju (for some reason). DCL from steam usually ends up in a subfolder in RSC (ex RSC/NorthEastCorridor), or as a separate folder (ex vR_AddOn1). UKTS Stuff ends up largely with your Kuju folder. The consequence is that the asset filter in the Scenario Editor can not separate most of UKTS FP stuff from the standard assets. And there are many UKTS assets, so if you install UKTS most of your assets under Kuju will not be available to most users on Steam. You have been warned.

Missing Marker Error
The Missing Marker error most often means that you have an instruction to drop or connect wagons to a train, and you have written the wrong wagon number in the instruction.

Train with initial speed
It has happened to me more than once, that the player train suddenly, after a save, has a non-zero initial speed. So, when the scenario starts, the train is running and braking. Very annoying. I have not found a way to fix it. I had to put a new train (loco) in place, and rewrite the timetable/instructions – perhaps there is a better way, but I don’t know.

Dependencies and Steam
Just having Assets visible from a DLC creates a dependency on that DLC, even if in the end you include nothing. I found that removing a dependency was a bit tricky. I had to remove the Asset source, and do another change to the scenario (I added a wagon to an empty siding) before saving, otherwise the removal of the source would not work.

Longer scenarios take much longer times
If you make a scenario twice as long, expect four times the building time. Everything gets more complicated. More test runs are needed. There will be more errors that need to be nailed out.

Up and down: platforms etc
Platforms and other track sections are often named Up or Down. Each route has an Up-direction (typically north) and a Down-direction (typically south). To avoid problems: Always use Up-tracks only for up-trains, and Down-tracks only for down-trains. There are reasons (practically or because of your story line) to make exceptions. Try to make sure everything works with Up-up and Down-down first, test it. Then, make your careful exceptions if you really have to. The errors that may result can be quite surprising and hard to track down otherwise.

Exchanging wagons with another train
You may want to build a scenario where one train (ex a Shunter) puts wagons somewhere, and another train picks them up. I am not talking about Relay-scenario – just standard scenarios. My findings:

  1. You may get consist warning – that is ok, just live with it
  2. It is fine to let the player pick up wagons left by an AI
  3. It is not fine to let the AI pick up wagons left by the player. There is a missing “marker”, so the AI will search for the wagons at the very end of the track section. If the wagons are not place (by player) just exactly outside the track section, then an AI collision critical error will occur.

Update 2013-08-03:Usually, if you want the player to pick up wagons that an AI train has dropped, you want the player to be around and see it (otherwise you can just cheat and put the wagons there in the first place). This creates timing/dependency-issues. Not impossible, but you have been warned.

AI Shunting
New: 2013-08-03
AI Trains can most often drop wagons that they had from the beginning, and most often connect wagons that were placed in position from the beginning. But do not expect an AI train to drop a few wagons and get back a few minutes later to pick them up: AI collision very likely. But the player usually does not look very closely at what the AI train does – sometimes you achieve 98% of the effect by having the same train just move back and forth with the same wagons.

The timetable
When you create a scenario, each active train gets a timetable. If you have no warnings or errors it means the timetable “works”. Now, the AI trains will drive very much based on the time table (and usually ignore the signals). Dont expect the the AI trains to be dynamically re-prioritized, re-routed, wait, or run ahead because of what the player does. Perhaps it happens in some situations – usually not.

Priority of a train determines the time table, but dont expect it to be used dynamically during the scenario.

If you want to delay/slow down a train, you have two ways:

  1. Change the performance percentage
  2. If it is a passenger train, give it a departure time of a passenger pickup instruction (by checking the timetable box) – it should obey the departure time regardless how much ahead of time it arrived

Setting the wait time or departure time for a normal stop instruction has very questionable effect.

AI Trains just stops in the middle of anywhere
New 2013-08-03
Sometimes AI Trains just stop (or do not start at all). It appears to happen if the Player does not follow timetable. Especially, if the Player is ahead of its timetable AI trains (in front of the player) may just stop (or creep extremely slowly). For Passenger player trains the best way to control the player timing is to use timetabled stops, and give the player some margin. For freight trains it is harder. The stop instruction, set at a long stop will give time in the timetable, but you might need to instruct the player explicitely: you may not proceed before 07:45, or to wait until another train has arrived/passed/departed.

AI trains often do not obey signals. They mostly obey the timetable.

The player has to obey signals, and the game aborts on passing a Danger Signal. There is a Game Setting to override this, but driving a train not obeying signals does not really make sense.

Each signal has a LUA script that decides it behaviour. I have not found a way to inspect or modify those scrips from the Scenario Editor. I have also not found a way to force a signal into a particular state, or change its initial state. As in all software there can be bugs in the LUA script and the behaviour of the signals. Sometimes a signal looks red, but generates no SPAD; I guess the state of the graphics element does not match the actual game state.

If you test your scenario and find SPADs that you can not get rid of, you can always at least notify the player about it with a message for each and every time (and require Game Settings to allow it).

However, signals often do not have super-complicated behaviour. They usually get red when you pass it forward. They often turn green if you pass it backwards. Otherwise it turns green when a train passes somewhere. Sometimes there are two routes to a signal, and just routing the player the right way helps. Sometimes you can manipulate a signal using an AI train (typically doing something illegal, but it does not care). Test in a little empty scenario to see how that particular signal behaves.

(It seems to me) The signals are not the result of a super complex state, but rather just what has happened around it.

(It seems to me) wagons placed anywhere do not affect signals. I also believe that locomotives (broken or working) do not necessarily cause a problem.

Update 2013-08-03: I am now sure that trains without drivers do not affect the timetable or dispatcher. Also, I do not believe they affect signals. However, the will give you static consists warning – that is nothing to worry about. So, one way to cheat a little is to add non-moving trains to create atmosphere without complicating your scenario. If the player drives by in 70km/h it does not matter much if that train in the siding moves slowly or not.

Via-routes and Waypoints
It is tempting to use Via-routes and Waypoints just to be clear to the game how you want things to run. Sometimes adding them helps – somethings getting rid of them also helps.

However, if you have a single track line with three stations: A-B-C. You want two trains to meet at B. I recommend you to use VIA-instructions to B (not waypoints) for both trains. This way you can verify that they have the same time at B. And usually, they refuse to meet at B unless you have VIA-instructions there.

Start and End positions for AI trains
If you have more than just a few AI trains, be careful that they have good starting and ending locations.

Portals are always good end locations, as the trains will disappear and not disturb anyone. But often you want to end it somewhere visible to the player, and often a portal is not available.

Sidings are tricky end locations, because the train may leave a red signal (into a platform, approach or shunt track). If the player is not going there, it should be less of a problem.

Platforms and other parts of the line are tricky start and end locations, because the train may end up blocking another train.

When troubleshooting a scenario, it is usally practical to remove a few AI trains to see if the problem goes away, and to see what timetable the player train really should have. One way to remove AI trains from the complete timetable is to just change their start time to something later (+3h). But this is when they can end up in the way of other trains. In the same way, it can be tempting to give a train running at the end of a scenario an end location just in the middle of the line. This will effectively make it very hard to delay other trains as suggested above.

Naming AI trains
Name all services in a sensible way. Be consistent. Direction and time are most important when troubleshooting. If you have many AI trains, write a little list on a paper with their name, start location and end location.

Test driving
You need to test drive your scenario. It takes much time to test drive a long scenario over and over again. When driving, keep structured notes:

  • Arrival/departure times
  • Problems with instructions: need more/less, better timing, spelling errors, references to wrong wagons or track sections, etc
  • Signal errors!
  • Stuff you want to add (people, wagons, boats, garbage, etc)
  • Things that are annoying

Do not quit at the first annoying thing, drive on and collect more information. But if you find serious routing or signalling problems, just abort and focus on that. Maybe in a test scenario to isolate the problem.

Instructions and completion texts can be nice. It can be to much. And especially, the timing can be bad. A message does not stay for very long – keep them short – max 2 sentences. If you give critical information, make sure to not do it at a very busy moment, the player may just get rid of the message because he is busy with something.

It is unfortanate that text related to stops (with or without passengers) show up after the stop is complete, not in the beginning. When stopping, you know that you have a little while to relax and read.

It is unfortanate that it is not possible to see all historical/previous popups – or is it?

The Marshall instruction
New: 2013-08-03
The Marshall instruction leaves some problem solving to the player. Beware, the dispatcher/timetable has very little clue how long time it will take. If you do a Marshall in the beginning of a scenario, and the player is minutes ahead/after schedule, expect problems with signals and AI trains.

Load/Drop instructions
New 2013-08-03
Load/Drop instructions have a checkbox that decides if order of the wagons is important (Marshall has it too). Default is off. That means that you do not have to worry about what is forward/back and closest to the loco or anything (unless you check that box). Also, as a matter of fact, the player can usually drop (or pick up) any wagons anywhere most of the time, without getting an error. In practice, (as a player) it is often possible to cheat by just dropping your heavy load in the beginning of a scenario, and complete it with fewer wagons and no warnings. Be aware of it. You can also be lazy and just give a single wagon as drop/pick up instruction. When it comes to being lazy with AI trains, I am not so sure. I always test, and sometimes I give up.

Replacing a locomotive
So, you made a scenario for the Black 5, but you want to run it with the Robinson O4 instead? I don’t know how to do that in a simple way with the editor, unfortunately. However, there is something called RW Tools, that you can download, donate some money, and use. RW Tools has very many features, replacing rolling stock in a scenario is just one of them.

Update a scenario on Steam
I have not found a proper way to update a scenario on Steam. I set visibility to “friends only” (so it is still there for people who have it), and publish it again with a (v2) after the name. Then I post a link from the first version discussion board to the new version. There must be a better way…

Good pace
New 2013-08-03
What is the right pace for a scenario? 75% on all instructions? Well, that is often not so bad. In real life, train drivers (especially of freight trains) spend long time waiting and checking brakes, etc. If you tell your players to wait 15-20 minutes for an express train to pass (which is what you typically need on single track with signals not so close) there is a risk your players just think you waste their time. Just a few minutes waiting can be quite pretentious. But if the “slower players” are to have a chance, the faster players will have to accept to wait. And I have found, especially with steam locos, that different players get very different performance from their engine (read about Black 5 performance). For shunting scenarios some players find it too easy, while others need 15 minutes more. Short scenarios are a good idea – for many reasons.

With TS 2014 it was marketed that developers could now include a Lua Script in their scenarios. There IS a little button in the scenario editor tool, to open up and edit the Lua script. There IS nothing else I know of: no tutorial, no documentation, no manual. It is not that Lua itself is hard or need documentation – you simply need to know how you can interact with what parts of the simulator. I would like to interact with the AI trains (to override their timetable) and I would like to manipulate signals. The best you can do is to search the scenarios that ship with the simulator for .lua files, but changing weather and displaying alerts with a little picture in them, is not what I most want.

Timetable never resolving
Added 2014-01-15
When you change any instruction it takes a little while (a split second to a few seconds) for the timetable to recalculate. Sometimes it gets stuck/hung, and does not finish calculating (work progress icon just going round and round). This is bad. Don’t save. Don’t try to play. I have found that quite likely you have added some AI service that disturbs the timetable – perhaps a train in the Players’ path? Try removing consists, latest first, and perhaps the problems goes away. It is a little counter intuitive to not wait until the progress ends, but actually make more changes while it workds. But it has worked for me.

How to get started?
If you want to start creating scenarios, I suggest:

  1. Read the Creators Manual
  2. Choose a route that you know well
  3. Make short, simple scenarios
  4. Not so many AI trains, and test scenario without AI trains first
  5. Use as little DLC as possible (what comes with the route + Kuju/RailSimulator)
  6. Try to help the player (with instructions, etc): give correct information, dont complicate or make things extra difficult
  7. Details: description, duration, etc
  8. Test, if in doubt an extra time – scenarios that do not complete are annoying and disappointing

Train Simulator 2013 DLC List

2013-11-16: Since the Store inside Train Simulator 2014 gives good opportunity to filter on country and loco type I don’t think this list is very needed anymore. Which is a good thing! It will probably not be updated more.
Update 2013-07-06: Added new DLC
Update 2013-05-25: Added new DLC
Update 2013-04-11: Added new DLC
Update 2013-02-19: Added new DLC
Update 2013-02-02: Added new DLC
Update 2013-01-20: Added new DLC
The DLC list in the Steam store is not completely useful when it comes to deciding what DLC to buy.
I believe this list is quite complete and correct 2013-07-06. I appreciate comments, feedback and corrections.

On Scenarios
FR means “Free Roam Scenarios”. Those ones kind of stopped making much sense with TS2013, when QuickDrive was introduced. Also, with TS2013 came Steam Workshop, making community scenarios much more viable. I guess that is why it is quite common with DLC with zero scenarios. Finally, it is most often not possible to know how many career scenarios you get with a DCL. Sometimes a DCL contains 4 scenarios, and all of them are also available as career scenarios (NE Corridor). Sometimes just some or none are available as career scenarios.

British Routes Price Euro Scenarios Release Date Comment
Bristol – Exeter 22.99 8 + 1FR 2011-06-10
Doncaster Works 17.99 11 2010-12-02
East Coast Main Line 11.99 ?? 2012-09-19 Part of TS2012
Edinburgh-Glasgow 29.99 6 + 4FR 2011-03-25
Falmouth Branch 22.99 5 2010-12-17
Glasgow Airport Rail Link 29.99 5 2010-05-10
Isle of Wight 22.99 14 2009-07-24
Great Western Main Line
11.99 8 2012-09-19 Part of TS2012
London Faversham High Speed 29.99 5 2013-02-21
London To Brighton 29.99 12+3FR 2012-06-07
Portsmouth Direct Line 32.99 10 + 3FR 2012-05-17
Settle to Carlisle 29.99 13 + 3FR 2012-04-05
Somerset & Dorset Railway 11.99 10 2012-09-19 Part of TS2012
West Coast Main Line North 29.99 6 + 6FR 2011-12-01
Western Lines of Scotland 29.99 15 2013-03-21
Woodhead Line 29.99 7 + 4FR 2012-01-26
German Routes Price Euro Scenarios Release Date Comment
Cologne – Dusseldorf 29.99 8 2012-03-09 Requires W7 x64
Munich to Augsburg 29.99 6 2012-10-10
Ruhr-Sieg Line 11.99 12 2012-09-19 Part of TS2012
US Routes Price Euro Scenarios Release Date Comment
Cajon Pass 11.99 12 2012-09-18 Part of TS2012
Colton & Northern 16.99 21 2009-09-25
Donner Pass: Southern Pacific 29.99 7 + 5FR 2011-11-24
Fort Kent to Eagle Lake 13.99 20 2010-03-19
Hatchett Hill Quarry 16.99 7 2011-08-11
Horseshoe Curve 25.99 6 2011-09-23
Marias Pass 29.99 8 2013-04-11
Northeast Corridor 29.99 4 2011-08-25
Ohio Steel 24.99 30 + 4FR 2012-01-12
Portland Terminal 22.99 11 2011-03-25
Rascal & Cottonwood 16.99 11 2009-09-04
Sherman Hill 29.99 6 2012-09-20
British Price Euro Scenarios Release Date Depends Comment
4CIG 13.99 5 + 3FR 2011-07-19 Portsmouth Direct Electric Passenger
4CIG Southern 11.99 2 + 2FR 2011-06-107 London To Brighton Electric Passenger
4VEP 13.99 5 + 3FR 2012-05-17 Portsmouth Direct Electric Passenger
A1 Tornado 13.99 0 2012-08-16 Steam Loco
BR 4BIG Class 422 13.99 3 2013-01-18 London – Brighton Electric Passenger
BR Class 31 13.99 3 2013-05-23 Settle to Carlisle Diesel Loco
BR Class 50 13.99 5 2013-06-13 Settle to Carlisle Diesel Loco
BR Class 87 13.99 5 2013-06-20 West Coast Main Line Electric Loco
BR Class 101 13.99 3 2013-05-02 East Coast Mainline Diesel Passenger
BR Standard 2MT 13.99 6 2013-04-13 Western Lines of Scotland Steam Loco
Class 31 13.99 0? 2012-08-16 Diesel Loco
Class 33 13.99 0? 2011-08-01 Diesel Loco
Class 57 Rail Tour
13.99 6 2012-11-08 Settle Carlisle Diesel Loco
Class 67 13.99 5 2011-08-01 Great Western Main Line Diesel Loco
Class 67 Diamond Jubilee 5.99 1 2012-05-31 Oxford – Paddington Diesel Drive the Queen
Class 70
12.99 5 2012-03-29 West Coast Main Line Diesel Loco
Class 77 and 76 12.99 5 2010-10-19 Woodhead Line Electric Locos
Class 86 9.99 6 2012-08-01 West Coast Main Line Electric Loco
Class 111 11.99 0? 2012-08-16 Diesel Passenger
Class 150 Sprinter 13.99 0? 2013-02-14 Diesel Passenger
Class 156 13.99 7 2011-04-15 Oxford – Paddington Diesel Passenger
Class 170 13.99 0? 2012-08-1 Diesel Passenger
Class 325 13.99 3 2012-08-01 West Coast Main Line Electric Passenger
Class 390 13.99 0? 2012-08-01 Electric Passenger
Class 444 12.99 8 + 5FR 2012-03-08 Portsmouth Direct Line Electric Passenger
Class 455 13.99 4 2011-07-28 Portsmouth Direct Line Electric Passenger
Class A4 Pacifics 21.99 8 2013-05-30 London Brighton Steam Loco
EWS & Freightliner Class 08s 13.99 5 2013-04-25 Edinburgh Glasgow Diesel Loco
EWS Class 66 v2.0 13.99 3 2012-08-28 West Coast Main Line North Diesel Loco
First Capital Connect Class 377 13.99 3 2013-01-18 London – Brighton Electric Passenger
Flying Scotsman 13.99 0? 2012-08-01 Steam Train
Freightliner Class 57/0 13.99 3 2013-02-14 Edinburgh – Glasgow Diesel Loco
Freightliner Class 66 13.99 3 2012-08-13 Edinburgh – Glasgow Diesel Loco
Fowler 4F
13.99 4 + 1FR 2010-06-28 Somerset & Dorset
Green and Gold HST
3.49 4 + 1FR 2010-09-18 Oxford to Paddington HST
GWR King 13.99 2 2012-08-16 Oxford – Paddington Steam Loco
HST Buffer Version
5.99 2 + 1FR 2009-11-06 East Coast Main Line HST
J94 ‘Memories of Maerdy’ 21.99 0? 2012-11-01 Steam Loco
Maerdy Valley Mini-route
LMS Class 3 Jinty 13.99 5 2013-05-06 Western Lines of Scotland Steam Loco
LNER Black Flying Scotsman 13.99 3 2012-12-13 London – Brighton Steam Train
Class A3+Wagons
LNER/BR J94 6.99 5 2012-11-15 Woodhead Line Steam Loco
Network Southeast Class 47
3.49 3 + 1FR 2010-08-06 Diesel Loco
Robinson O4 13.99 4 2012-10-19 Woodhead Line Steam Loco
Settle Carlisle Specials 22.99 1 2012-05-31 Settle Carlisle Misc
Southeastern Class 465 13.99 3 2013-04-18 London Faversham Electric Passenger
Stanier Jubilee 13.99 0? 2012-08-01 Steam Loco
Strathclyde Class 101 13.99 1 2012-12-06 West Coast Main Line DMU
Thompson B1 13.99 5 2012-11-08 Woodhead Line Steam Engine
German Price Euro Scenarios Release Date Depends Comment
BR143 13.99 5 2012-05-24 Cologne – Dusseldorf Electric Loco (Advanced)
DB BR232 13.99 3 2013-06-27 Munich – Augsburg Diesel Loco
DB BR423 13.99 3 2013-05-09 Munich – Augsburg Electric Passenger
DB Freight: 1970s 17.99 6 2012-03-01 Misc
ICE 1 11.99 0 2012-08-04 Electric Passenger
ICE 2 13.99 3 2013-01-10 Munich – Augsburg Electric Passenger
ICE 3 19.99 8 2012-08-10 Cologne – Dusseldorf Electric Passenger
E18 Passenger 17.99 6 2012-04-12 Cologne – Dusseldorf Electric Loco
US Price Euro Scenarios Release Date Depends Comment
Amtrak Acela Express 13.99 3 2011-10-13 North East Corridor Electric Passenger
AT&N Consolidation Class 280-157 13.99 3 2013-03-14 Horseshoe Curve Steam Loco
BNSF GP38-2 13.99 3 2013-06-07 Marias Pass Diesel Loco
BNSF SD40-2 13.99 4 2013-04-11 Marias Pass Diesel Loco
BNSF Official Licensed ES44AC & SD40-2 5.99 0 2009-07-30 Diesel Locos
Boston and Maine GE44 6.99 4 2013-01-18 Portland Terminal
Dash 9 13.99 0? 2012-08-01 Diesel Loco
EMD GP9 13.99 0? 2012-08-01 Diesel Loco
F40PH California Zephyr 13.99 5 2012-10-05 Donner Pass Diesel Loco/Train
GE-44 PRR 6.99 4 2012-08-23 Horseshoe Curve Diesel Switcher
GE-44 UP 6.99 4 2012-08-23 Cajon Pass Diesel Switcher
GG1 13.99 4 + 4FR 2011-12-09 North East Corridor Electric Loco
NKP S-2 Class Berkshire 13.99 0 2013-06-13 Steam Loco
Norfolk Southern Heritage ES44ACs 13.99 0 2013-02-07 Diesel Locos and Cars
Norfolk Southern Heritage ES70ACes 13.99 0 2013-02-07 Diesel Locos and Cars
PRR Baldwin Centipede 21.99 3 2012-11-29 Horseshoe Curve Diesel Loco
PRR K4 13.99 5 + 4FR 2012-02-09 Horseshoe Curve Steam Loco
SD40-2 High Nose
9.99 0? 2012-08-04 Diesel Loco
SD40-2 Independence
13.99 3 2013-07-04 Sherman Hill Diesel Loco
SD40-2 Wide Nose
9.99 0? 2012-08-03 Diesel Loco
SD70Ace 13.99 0? 2012-08-04 Diesel Loco
SD70 V2 Volume 2 13.99 3 2012-08-03 Cajon Pass Diesel Loco
SD75 13.99 5 2012-05-10 Diesel Loco
Southern Pacific Cab Forward 13.99 5 2012-08-23 Donner Pass Steam Loco
Southern Pacific GE 44 6.99 4 2013-01-31 Donner Pass Diesel Switcher
Southern Pacific GS-4 13.99 0? 2013-02-14 Steam Loco
Southern Pacific SD45 13.99 5 2013-02-14 Donner Pass Diesel Loco
SP&S E-1 Class Northern 13.99 0 2013-06-13 Steam Loco
SW1500 Switcher 13.99 2 2012-08-04 Cajon Pass Diesel Loco
Union Pacific Big Boy 13.99 5 2012-11-23 Sherman Hill Steam Loco
Union Pacific Challenger 13.99 4 2012-11-23 Sherman Hill Steam Loco

Train Simulator 2013: Ideal Steam Operation

Update 2013-05-03: Regarding GWR 5700

With the upgrade from Train Simulator 2012 to Train Simulator 2013 running steam locomotives (with manual fireman) was simplified. Among the changes were:

  • Two injectors (both from 0-100) were replaced with a single On/Off
  • No ejector
  • No damper
  • Blower used to be 0-100, now just On/Off
  • Steam generation/steam consumption information was replaced with just a PSI value and a green (going up) or red (going down) indication
  • Adding coal used to be 0-100, now just On/Off

Perhaps I have forgotting something. This is mostly a GUI change (to make XBox gamepad controls possible, I guess). The old values are still available using F5, and the old controls are still available if using the mouse to control the levers manually inside the cab (not showing the HUD at all, I have read). The physics are not necessarily changed.

Well, I like realism, but with TS2012 it was hard to figure out if some of those things really mattered (like the ejector) or if it was just decoration.

I decided to make some test runs with different settings/values, to find ideal operating values. The results surprised me a bit!

Test setup
I choose Quick Drive and the Black 5 (LMS B5 + 8Mk1s) steam locomotive. My test track is East Coast Main line from Thirsk to Darlington. I leave at 2AM, the skies are clear and it is spring.

I try to drive as fast as possible, within the boundaries for each test run. I dont care about any speed limits, but it is a good track and the tests are quite safe.

Regulator is normally at 100%. I lower the regulator only when I lose pressure and water level outside my target values. However, I never lower the Regulator while the Reverser is above 10%.
Reverser is kept as high as possible, and not below 10%. With possible, I mean that I must respect my water level and pressure boundaries. I start from 75% and gradually lower as speed goes up, trying not to waste steam during acceleration while keeping a good acceleration.
Pressure: For each run I have kept the pressure within a 5-PSI range. The baseline has been to keep it within 215-220 PSI. For lower pressures I have lost pressure in a responsible way (it has taken me a few miles to get down to target pressure).
Coal: For each run I have kept the coal within different ranges. When reaching the lower threshold I have opened until reaching the upper threshold and then closed until reaching the lower again. The coal has started at 66%, and typically I have kept it between 65-70%.
Water: In most cases I have maintained water level between 90% and 100%. That is, opening the injector at 90%, leaving it open until 100%. Occationally, I have let the water down a little bit more to maintain pressure, and occationally I have allowed myself to switch injector on/off within the 90-100 range to maintain pressure boundaries.
Blower has been Off except when I have written otherwise.
Brake is set to Running (7%) as soon as brake pressure is 21 PSI.

Measure points
I have measured time at three points:

  • 15.05 miles before Darlington (At Northallerton platform)
  • 6.0 miles bofore Darlington
  • 2.0 miles before Darlington

Measurements have been made manually, so there is a risk I made a mistake with a measure point or two. When getting closer to Darlington speed limit is 25 mph, and my speed is about 80 mph, so no measurements are taken closer to Darlington than 2 miles away.

When reading the table, compare everything to run 5 (for each run, only one parameter is different from run 5). I suggest you

  1. compare 2,3,4,5,6 (pressure variation)
  2. compare 1 to 5, and compare 7 to 5 (basic coal variation)
  3. compare 0 and 5 – only difference is that 0 was run as the first drive after loading TS, while the other runs are run immediately after another drive
  4. now feel free to look at 8-15

# PSI Coal Extra D-15 D-6 D-2
0 215-220 65-70 First run after starting TS 8:27 15:28 18:32
1 215-220 60-65 8:20 15:25 18:32
2 200-205 65-70 8:12 15:04 17:58
3 205-210 65-70 8:09 14:56 17:50
4 210-215 65-70 8:09 14:58 17:52
5 215-220 65-70 8:10 14:55 17:52
6 220-225 65-70 8:24 15:15 18:08
7 215-220 70-75 8:15 15:09 18:05
8 215-220 65-70 Blower On 8:10 14:58 17:51
9 215-220 65-70 Break=Release 8:35 15:48 18:53
10 215-220 65…40 Never filling coal 8:45 16:41 20:11
11 215-220 65-68-63…57 Coal +3/-5 8:14 15:07 18:05
12 215-220 65-70-67…73 Coal +5/-3 8:07 14:52 17:48
13 215-220 65-70 Water 100..50 (-10/+5) 8:08 14:52 17:47
14 215-220 65-70 Regulator 80% (when Rev <= 30%) 8:08 14:41 17:29
15 215-220 Auto Fireman (Fire 62%, Water 70-85) 8:16 15:08 18:03

First and most shocking notice: on my computer I lose about 40 seconds the first time I run the scenario, compared to when I run it again (compare 0 and 5). Obviously a lot of things are not loaded or computed the first run, but cached for the second run.

Pressure is less important than I thought! Keep it below the emergency valve level (at 221 PSI) – in run 6 the Black 5 is constantly leaking steam to avoid over pressure. Keeping pressure as close to maximum as possible is obviously not of much importance; compare 3,4,5. Below 205 PSI some performance is lost (run 2).

The Blower has hardly any effect whatsoever in this situation; compare 5 and 8.

Coal and Fire management is clearly quite important, and it is not so obvious what point is optimal. In run 1 coal was allowed to drop from 66% to 60% before filling up for the first time – not a good strategy. In run 6 on the other hand coal was immediately loaded from 66% to 75% before closing for the first time – not a good strategy either. Slowly adding more coal (run 12) seems to be better strategy than the baseline (run 5) and slowly adding less coal (run 11) seems to be a slightly worse strategy. Never filling up coal is a disaster (run 10) – if your engine cant maintain pressure even if both regulator and reverser have low settings your fire is too little! Finally, the Automatic fire guy (run 15) lets the coal level drop to 62% and then kept it there with the doors open (not possible using the HUD in TS2013).

Water can be spent with a slight benefit (run 13). For maximum performance, do not arrive with a full boiler. This might be within error margin though. Notice that both with a -10/+10 strategy and a -10/+5 water strategy much running time is spent with the injector open – losing water level is much quicker than gaining it.

Regulator vs Reverser
In run 14 I decided to run with the regulator at 80% instead of 100% – turns out top speed for my train increased from 80.5 to 82 Mph! More torque? I first set regulator at 100% and lowered reverser from 75% to 30% as I picked up speed (keeping pressure around 220 PSI). After that I instead lowered the regulator from 100% to 80% to keep pressure constant. After that went back to operating with the reverser. This opens up the question that there must be an optimal reverser value for each situation… depending at least on speed, but possibly also the load and maybe more factors.

Conclusions and driving advice

  1. If you are going for maximum career scenario scores, run the scenario twice and/or get better hardware 🙁
  2. Avoid forgetting to feed your fire: open/close regularly and make it grow slowly
  3. Dont waste steam: brakes at running and pressure always below 221 PSI
  4. Allow yourself to operate below maximum water and pressure levels
  5. Regulator/Reverser ratio is not obvious or trivial

Conclusions and driving advice may not apply to

  • other engines than the Black 5
  • scenarios with many starts/stops
  • slower scenarios (uphill with load), in my tests I operated close to maximum speed
  • scenarios with heavy load
  • the exact same situation, in case game physics engine is updated

Driving a steam locomotive is supposed to be a black art. Each locomotive is unique. It is about listening and feeling. Some of my findings here were quite surprising too me, and I dont know if they are realistic, or just an effect of a limited physics engine.

GWR 5700
After driving the GWR 5700 a bit I made two observations. First, it starts at about 60% coal level. Keep it there, between 55-65%, or at least raise it very slowly. And, the Blower is very useful for Boiler Pressure when GWR 5700 stands still. I guess it should apply to all locomotives.

Train Simulator 2013 and PS3 gamepad

Train Simulator 2013 was released a while ago and among the new features was the possibility to play the game/control the train with an XBox 360 gamepad. I dont have such a thing, and I was not sure it was worth buying one just for Train Simulator.

I will start with the conclusions:

  1. You can use a PS3 controller instead of an XBox controller
  2. You may want to reconfigure/remap the gamepad, not using the default behaviour
  3. First I was sceptical – but after a while, not going back to driving with mouse/keyboard

Making the PS3 gamepad (DS3) work with Train Simulator 2013
Windows 7 (x64) recognizes the DS3, but to you need a software that makes the DS3 appear to be an XBox gamepad to TS2013. This software is MotioninJoy, I installed version 0.7.1001 and if there is a later version available you should probably use the latest.

With the MotioninJoy software you use the “Xbox 360 Controller Emulator” mode.

Default DS3->XBox experience
Since the XBox gamepad is not identical to the DS3 I found it quite hard to play TS2013 with the default settings. XBox has A,B,X,Y while PS3 has Triangle,Circle,Cross,Square buttons. Regulator and Brake control was not on the Joysticks (the same on XBox), and this did not mach my expectations. But the worst was that the left Joystick was both used to control the reverser (up/down) and the HUD-panel (left/right). The result was that the HUD-panel changed mode by accident quite often.

Perhaps the default makes a lot of sense with the Xbox gamepad, but for med and the DS3, not good enough for driving trains.

Reconfiguring the gamepad
I did some thinking, and this is what I want: The right joystick used for braking the train, only. The left joystick for controlling the regulator, only. Up/Down buttons control reverser (mostly important for steam, of course). I use Left/Right buttons for controlling coal and water leves (only relevant for steam, of course). The left hand triggers control the HUD. I decided Triangle looks like A, and then Circle is B. I decided Cross looks like X, and then Square is Y.

This way, the gamepad is primarily used for controlling the train, and can not be used for camera pan.

The mappings look like this (all other set to None):

DS3 XBox
Triangle A button
Circle B button
Cross X button
Square Y button
L1 Left Stick X- (HUD)
L2 Left Stick X+ (HUD)
SELECT Back (Map)
L3 Left hat button (whistle)
START Start (Menu)
Dpad Up Left Stick Y- (Reverser)
Dpad Right D-pad up (Water)
Dpad Down Left Stick Y+ (Reverser)
Dpad Left D-pad down (Coal)
Left stick y+ LB (Regulator)
Left stick y- Left Trigger (Regulator)
Right stick y+ RB (Brake)
Right stick y- Right Trigger (Brake)

I obviously have R1 and R2 to do something with.