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Trains need a place to operate. Since they neither float nor fly, they need terrain. Terrain holds up tracks for trains to run on. Of course, terrain and track are hardly enough on their own to create an interesting place to run trains. We need to locate some interesting features on the terrain. Trainz provides Surveyor to create interesting places to operate trains, and most users will want to create a new railway eventually. This section introduces Surveyor along with concepts and techniques for creating those places to run trains.

Starting Surveyor[edit]

The indents indicate successive levels of menu screens:

  • Start TRAINZ, enters the launcher menu
    • Select Start, navigates to the Start menu
      • Select Surveyor, this action will begin importing assets from the Content Manager Plus (CMP) will begin initialing data to Trainz Surveyor. This may take a while.

A two purpose list menu will appear revealing route name and indented, Sessions list for each route. Some may show no Driver sessions. Surveyor is used to alter or create routes and sessions. Since each session is only good on the matching route, it's content is paired with and indented under it's associated route. A driver session without a route will not show in this menu, but will be found in the content manager. With no place to set down wheels, these should be deleted as useless.

  • Select an existing route then Load or
  • Select Create New

So Surveyor is running. Now what?


Let's start with a definition. Terrain is the surface of the earth, as shaped by erosion and geologic forces. Think of it as the dirt and rock that covers the planet, scultpted by gravity, water, erosion, earth forces and wind. Anything that isn't part of the surface isn't terrain. Water, roads, trees, buildings, cars, tracks all rest top of terrain thus they are features. We need terrain to put all the really interesting things on and, sometimes in, so we start by making some dirt.


File:Trainz default (standard 0m elevation Baseboard
Typical Trainz Baseboard, 720m x 720 m 72 x 72 grid of 10 meters.

Baseboards meters feet miles yards
1 720 m  2362.20 ft 0.447 mi  787.40
2 1440 m  4724.41 ft 0.895 mi 1574.80
3 2160 m  7086.61 ft 1.342 mi 2362.21
4 2880 m  9448.82 ft 1.790 mi 3149.61
5 3600 m 11811.02 ft 2.237 mi 3937.01

The basic unit of terrain in Trainz is called a baseboard, and each of those is sub-divided into a 10x10 meter grid which becomes pertinent at several levels of route construction. For reasons known only to the original crew of programmers at Auran/N3V, baseboards are 720 meters (0.447387 miles) on a side. Some have proposed the hypothesis that originally they were scaled proportional to the nautical mile, as seen as an arc length (i.e. part of a curve) then scaled to metric, and rounded off, but the programmer made a math error during one of the chain of conversions, and later wouldn't admit it. It does almost fit that sort of scaling. Regardless of the reasoning behind it's genesis, since Trainz 0.9 (Beta) this has been the size of the standard baseboard and continues to be a mystery in the general Trainz Online community. New baseboards are flat land at sea level. Each baseboard has a 10 meter grid 72x72 marked out on it. Each intersection of the grid is an elevation point. The 10 meter elevation interval effectively limits the slope of terrain. Exactly vertical cliffs are not possible. Nor are undercut faces. Mathematics necessary to support either are far too complex to perform in real-time. File:10 Meter Grid
Trainz 2012 has introduced an option to create baseboards with a 5m grid, or to convert an existing baseboard from the default 10m grid to a 5m grid. The 5m grid is particularly useful when you need fine control over the shape of the surface, but significant work is required to take advantage of it. A suitable compromise is to use the 5m grid in areas around and under track, and the 10m grid for areas further away. You set the default grid size with RMB on the Add Terrain button before creating the baseboard. Existing baseboards can be changed by selecting a new default, LMB on the Add Terrain button and then LMB on the baseboard. Note that changing the grid size affects texturing - it will probably need to be redone after the change.

Some Essential Surveyor Hints[edit]

These hints have a temporary home. They will be incorporated in this section as appropriate.