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Trainz: The Missing Manual[edit]

Welcome to Trainz[edit]

In May, 2001 Microsoft released Microsoft Train Simulator (MSTS) as a follow-on to Flight Simulator. Five months later Auran, a small game studio based in Australia, released Trainz. Despite two efforts, Microsoft never released a later version however Auran then N3V have continued to release improved versions the latest of which is Trains: A New Era (T:ANE). The Trainz product line includes versions for Windows, Android, Apple OSX and IOS. There are more than 650,000 registered users world-wide.

The core of Trainz is a railroad simulator engine incorporating physics, display graphics, a database and manager, user interface, and basic route creation tools. The engine is supported by an extensive collection of both commercial and freely downloadable content elements including locomotives, rolling stock, track, trackside elements, and scenery elements. The collection also includes complete routes. Users created and maintain much of the available content.

Trainz users fall into a few categories:

  • they may simply run the routes provided with the simulator, usually relying on model railroad Digital Command Control (DCC),
  • they may advance to modifying consists and operating trains using modeled in-cab controls much as a real engineer would,
  • they may use included and third party tools to create prototype and fictional routes,
  • or they may use a variety of tools to create locomotives, rolling stock, track-side elements or scenic elements.

Any given user may fall into any category at various times based on their skills and goals for a session.

About this Book[edit]

Creating a comprehensive user manual that addresses all the potential user audiences for a high flexible simulation system is a daunting task, even for the developers. The manual provided with Trainz focuses on introducing the beginning user to sufficient details to get started. Brand new users should start with that manual and work through the provided tutorial sessions. Some users may be satisfied with that level of involvement which is fine.

Moving beyond driving trains is a bit more problematic. N3V makes several resources available for advanced uses, including the Trainz wiki. What's missing is context and workflow. This wikibook serves as the missing manual for the topics not covered in the user manual. It also includes hard learned lessons from master content creators.

This book is ordered from basics to advanced content creation. Later articles rely in concepts presented in earlier articles and the chapters are linked to support a linear read. However, advanced users can treat this book as a reference manual by using the search engine integrated in Wikibooks.

NOTE: With versions spanning more than 16 years, some processes and data has changed over time. Variations between versions, especially breaking changes are noted where known.

Table of Contents[edit]

Getting Started[edit]


Some Essential Do's And Don'ts[edit]

Tips And Tricks[edit]


The Driver aspect of Trainz permits operating virtual trains on modeled railroads. It is the simulation of routes and can be both interactive and automated. All editions of Trainz are supplied with at least one route and driver session for immediate use.


The Surveyor aspect of Trainz provides tools for creating the world and the rails for virtual railroads. While in surveyor, the size of the layout, the weather, the landscape and all your assets can be experimented with until your route is ready to drive.

Asset Management[edit]

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Main page: Trainz/Introduction to assets
If you are just browsing the internet trying to get a glimpse of Trainz, or are a new Trainz user, the link above leads into the first chapter below as a set of linked pages, and should be read first.

Managing your assets becomes essential when your 3rd party and DLS content begins to build up. With more than 100,000 items available from the DLS, and built-in content shipped with every edition, the amount of faulty/missing dependencies or items requiring updates or attention quickly becomes a mammoth task to deal with.

Main Assets TOC: Trainz/AM&C

Asset Creation[edit]

This HO scale locomotive with its rich authentic detailing took man-months of development, and so do many Trainz assets. One is in plastic made using 3D CAD planning and likely involved CAM to create the molds. A Trainz traincar asset creator uses 3D graphics modeling software that is a sub-genre of a full up engineering CAD package, but with an orientation towards creating visual simulations — so professional packages (which cost thousands; Autodesk's 3dsMax is $3,600 US and up[1]) are oriented for advertising and so an architectural firm can sell its concept; this CAD package variant lends itself to Trainz needs, but the components in both engineering and graphics CAD modeling are much the same, one builds with pieces that can be defined in 3-space (3D).
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March 31st, 2014 - On re-organization into multiple divisions...

Most of these 'in-depth' pages about intermediate and advanced Trainz topics will soon be relocated in the new division: Trainz Asset Management & Creation ('Trainz/AM&C, while advanced Content creation will be relocated to the division Content Creation). Other materials will be moved to references and even dated material will be kept in the Appendixes.

Many users of Trainz that take up route building as a pass-time eventually choose to become content creators, even if it is to only customize a class or three of traincars and reskin them to their target railroad world.

This can be seen by the popularity of the DLS and the large number of contributors that bootstrap themselves into a usable level of content manipulation, or creation using 3D modeling software now available as freeware such as Blender. There is a steep learning curve associated with content creation and often many ways to produce the same result. Creating content can be incredibly rewarding but the road to a completed model consisting of many component pieces may be long and frustrating. The harder the fight, the sweeter the victory.
It may surprise many new Trainzer that there is a significant number of veteran Trainzer who rarely drive or operate Surveyor beyond testing a new asset—there is a lot of joy and satisfaction in creative activities and there is always high demand for someone to make this or that special asset for the large route building groups of Trainzers who also Drive very little.


The implementation of scripting in Trainz has added increased flexibility and interactive possibilites with assets, particularly with animated objects. Scripting in trains adopts the TrainzScript language and requires a basic understanding of programming to follow.

Other Information[edit]

Additional Resources[edit]

Overview of Trainz releases · Introduction

  1. Autodesk 3dsMax priced on 2014-0310 at $3,645 from Autodesk for a full package, whilst's 1 year of support license package was $3,800 USD.