Trainz/refs/Tips And Tricks-route building

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Fundamentals for Trainz Trainees

Trainz Asset Maintenance and Creation
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Installing Content Over Multiple Trainz Versions[edit]

If you have multiple versions of Trainz installed on the same computer, there is a simple way to ensure that new material is imported into the correct version.

  1. Open the version of CMP that was installed with the version of Trainz you wish to import the content for. Download from the DSL will now be installed for that version only.
  2. To import information into another version, repeat the above.
  3. If you double click on a downloaded file on your desktop, it will automatically install it to the last version of CMP that was opened (eg if the 2006 version was the last used, then it will import content to that edition unless you first manually open a different version).


P train grey.png
Textures are surfaces that colorize the wireframe underlying the 3D virtual world surface and 'skin' objects in Trainz
  • Rotate you textures in big areas rather than small for a more realistic look.
  • If you are laying down large areas of texture, overlay the area with patches of the same texture at a different scale (smaller or larger) to break up the patterning that can occur. A different texture that is nearly the same color can be used for the same effect.
  • Where power lines cross your fields make a small circle of grass around the base of each post or pylon. Farm machines steer clear of power line bases so they are always surrounded by rough grass (check Google Earth for proof!).
  • Not all textures are a simple color or pattern - some are shrubs, bushes or rocks. If you are trying to delete or move these you won't find an object or a spline. Delete then by pasting a blank section of terrain over the area where they are appearing.
  • With some tunnels a 'dighole' has to be used in order to see through the tunnel. The 'dighole' is then masked with a suitable 10x10, or larger, terrain object that resembles the surrounding texture. At least one of andi06's tunnels requires the 'dighole' and he has created a piece of terrain to cover above and below the tunnel.
  • When you’re putting down textures, if you want a baseboard done fast, click the thing that looks like miniature baseboards. There are 8 of them with red in the middle. It textures the whole baseboard.
  • If you would like some random terrain (user-specifiable to a degree) to start a new fictional route, take a look over at for a utility called Terrain Zurveyor. You can specify general conditions and hit Generate and it will create a displacement file that you can directly use in Surveyor to set the terrain of a user-specified area.
  • You can also find some nice pre-generated displacement files over at which includes some pictures so you can have an idea what you will be getting.
  • When you are making fields note that a field is rarely ploughed right up to the fence. Try to orientate you fields so you can paint a rough grass texture to follow the line of the fence and paint the rest of the field your required colour. Always include a "Farm Gate" or "Open Farm Gate" in your field and paint a mud texture round it, suggestive of tractors or animals going through it. If you use a textured pattern with a fixed orientation, such as a crop, you can overlay it with patches of coloured texture to create areas of light and dark, which is how a crop usually looks.


  • Planted trees/objects and now don't want them? Copy and paste a blank area of board onto the trees/objects and now they're gone (be sure to select Paste Objects in the pasting options).
  • When laying out large numbers of trees use the "Randomly rotate new objects" function in Surveyor Settings (in Options).
  • When laying out Tree Splines, avoid laying them in straight lines. Consider laying in short stretches that criss-cross to make them look less uniform.
  • When building a country route, avoid using the same hedge spline throughout. Mix it up a little or try different types of fencing to create variety and a more realistic look.
  • Sick of planting trees and texturing? Build up a random clump of trees and add the texture beneath in a square somewhere out of sight on a baseboard. Name one of the trees 'Trees' so that you can do a 'find' if you forget where you put them. Now copy and paste where they need to be.
  • Always paint the forest floor a darker colour (e.g. “Ger Forest”) than the surrounding area. Individual trees should be planted in a dark patch.
  • For good measure use a sound file such as "Crows".
  • Consider varying the height of the trees by using the “Height” button. A tree can be a bush by burying the trunk, but it can also be raised above ground to add variety, without its suspension being obvious from a distance. If you are using a very small variety of trees and it's all looking a bit similar, try pulling a few into the ground to resemble less mature trees or shrubs. You can do this with the ones you are going to copy and paste and they will retain the heights above ground.
  • I'm modeling an area in the Eastern U.S., where vegetation is everywhere, and one thing I've had a hard time locating is good impenetrable-looking undergrowth. I've found a very effective solution to be to place low-poly trees (the cottonwood trees are especially effective for this) and lower them with the height tool until only the tops of the trees are visible. To my eyes it's much more realistic and much faster as well than placing vast numbers of bushes, etc. along the route. If you stick to just a few types of trees the rendering time is minimally impacted as well. (Be sure auto-rotate is on.)
  • Only use high poly items (such as 3d trees), where they are in full, close and lengthy view of a camera. While the 3d trees look great in the screenshots, they have less impact at 100 km/h from the loco cab.
  • You can force perspective by using matching tall/short trees sets for foreground and background. For Australian layouts 'Tree Gum Group' (kuid -1:100275) can be used in the foreground, and the smaller 'Tree Stickish Group' (kuid -1:100286) used in the distance.


  • When creating water with different heights close together, make sure the water doesn't touch. If it does then it will act as one big water mass.
  • To create rivers, use water or river splines rather than animated water. There are three reasons for this:
  1. When you're speeding past on a train you can't really tell it's not moving.
  2. Performance will be massively better than if you used animated water
  3. Splines allow you to make realistic rivers which flow down hills, rather than having lots of flat bits broken up by rocks / waterfalls etc.


  • Always save before you paste Terrain plus Objects like mocrossings. I've avoided that nasty spline bug (where you paste and some splines go nuts and try to join others half way across the map). Template:ILT
  • When using the undo button to delete a spline, TRS may crash. (The undo bug seems to be fixed in Trainz Classics.)
  • To show KUID's, add this sentence to your trainzoptions file:(-showkuids). In TS12 this is done with a setting in General Settings (in Options) "Show object/track/train KUIDs in Surveyor".


  • There are hundreds of different types of track available in Trains and on the Download Station. Experiment to find the best type for you scenario. Don't put all your effort into the rolling stock, scenery and buildings used on a route just to have the visual effect ruined by using the default tracks built-in to the original Trainz.
  • Where possible, lay your track in the direction the trains will be travelling. This helps the AI as it "prefers" track which is laid in the direction of travel.
  • Do not use double track track splines. It's a lousy short cut for several reasons:
  1. it can make the AI think it's travelling in the wrong direction (both tracks are laid in the same direction)
  2. it makes curves very difficult to build
  3. for certain countries it's the wrong spacing
  • Leave the signalling till last, as laying a signal and then laying more track ahead of it can cause problems with the AI.
  • Use the track straightening tool to make proper switches and make sure the diverge leaves the mainline at a suitable small angle. Take a low-down view along the track to make sure the angle is not too sharp - what might look OK from a top-down view can be a nasty jolt for a train.
  • Hold down shift as you are moving or placing a spline point to prevent it from joining another spline (also do this if the spline is incompatible with another spline, which can prevent it from being placed - hold down shift to make it go down). This is a godsend if you are working with a very complex area!
  • Spend a minute or two to install Trainz tuner. d=28
  • The last few yards of track by a buffer, and any track on catch points or safety sidings, should be laid as rusty track. Real train drivers will not allow their trains to actually make contact with the buffer stops/rail ends, and trap points and catch points should never have trains running over the "dead" track, so that track should always be rusty.


  • When laying down multiple spline points, hold ctrl and simply LMB each point in turn. Handy for curves.
  • To prevent a spline point from automatically connecting to a nearby point, press Shift as you place the spline.
  • For splines such as fences or hedges where you want them to join at an angle, allow them to connect when you lay them down, then come back and disconnect (Split Spline 'Q') them afterwards. This is quicker than trying to prevent them from connecting as you place them, and also ensures that they are perfectly aligned on top of each other.
  • If a spline point displays with a white dashed circle in Surveyor, that means it is attached to the ground at that point, and will change height if the height of the ground changes. If the point is displayed with a yellow dashed circle that means the spline point has a fixed height, and will not change if the ground height changes (but note that the circle is always white when viewed against the wireframe background).
  • When a spline is laid across terrain with varying heights, the spline will follow the height of the terrain. To force the spline to a constant gradient between two points, select the Spline Height ('H') icon then LMB on a spline point at either end of the section. Actually changing the height of either point will also force the spline to a constant slope.
  • The Smooth Spline ('S') tool doesn't actually smooth the spline - it smooths the terrain along the spline to match the height of the spline. Matching the ground height to the spline height increases with more clicks, out to a maximum of about 6.
  • The straighten track tool can also be used with splines.


  • When making large industrial or residential areas, set up a nice looking section and then use the copy/paste tool to expand the area. This can save you hours when route building.
  • Avoid populating your world with too many different items (whether inbuilt, or downloaded). Pick a set of items you can use repeatedly, and try and stick to them, to improve game performance. You can use the adjust height and rotate buttons to add variety.
  • Overlay/combine existing buildings to create new buildings.
  • Combine multiple buildings together to make them fit the situation
  • Always lay a base texture first in case you miss an area of the main textures.
  • When you're building a station, make sure you get the gap between the train and platform right by placing a train on the track and creeping the platform up to the train. The rule of thumb is - if there's space for a passenger to slip down, the gap is too wide.
  • If you put a train on the track you can't move the track or any track directly connected to it. This is why it makes more sense to move the platform.
  • Temporarily drop "hydraulic buffers" onto the track and shove the platform up to them and that way you get the width correct and the ends to match as well.
  • To rotate an object to match the angle of the track, hold down the 'Ctrl' key when you rotate the object and get a 1/10th more precise angle.
  • To get a closer 'zoom-in' distance in surveyor, to help fine tune or position something at closer range... is to add the line "-surveyorfov=30" to the trainzoptions file.
  • The minimum distance between the railway boundary fence or wall and the nearest running rail is 10 feet (3 metres). Anything inside that is called the "Lineside". When you place fences, don't make them less than 10 feet from the track.
  • Copy and paste is your friend. Allows you to knock out large areas/tasks in a breeze

Releasing a Route[edit]

  • Before you release a route, try to run some common scenarios to make sure the AI/signalling works as expected, and to ensure that track work is all correct.
  • Compare your route with as many photographs as you can. This will help make your as prototypical as possible.
  • Try to include at least one unique area to your route that you haven't seen in another (e.g.a different sort of factory or industry) to create a point of interest.
  • Try to look at routes from different geographic areas for inspiration. For example if you model USA then look at European/UK routes (and vice-versa).

Trackmarks/AI Drivers[edit]

  • If you want to move track marks beyond spline points, use the move function. This works on track marks of all types.
  • If your AI trains refuse to load or unload at ProtoLars tracks try this trick.
 When sending the AI to a ProtoLars track, I use the driver command "Stop Train" (131986:150150).
 So issue the following driver commands:
 # Drive to Trackmark-Stop Train-Wait for n minutes-etc.
 # Drive to Trackmark-Stop Train-Wait for 10 seconds-Uncouples-etc.
 This applies the air brakes to the whole train and prevents any movement (the probable cause of not un/loading).
  • You can use a driver more than one time if you just change their name. I set names of drivers to the name of the train to see train locations when on a large map.
  • When a portal creates trains, the same driver get assigned to the same train every time.
  • If you have a long stretch of track or you find the AI constantly takes the wrong route at a certain location, lay a trackmark down on the path you want the AI to take and then tell your trains to "Drive Via". I find that placing a trackmark a full braking distance before a signal and telling a train to "Drive Via" prevents the AI from trying to take control of points which are beyond the signal and it will instead wait for the signal to clear.
  • I have been experimenting with 'path control' and 'path trigger'. I wanted to get the train to stop before it made the next path and carried on with its journey into the yard from the mainline. I was moving the trigger to get it so far from the signal that the train would reach the trigger just as the signal stopped the train. after some playing around i found the train stops 25 metres short of the signal, so i now place my triggers in exactly the same spot as the signal and set the radius to 26 metres, works great.


  • When you make Bridges note that grass does not grow under a bridge so use a dark colour such as "Dock Surface" or Ballast if its track side.

Tips for using Plate Girder Bridge

If using "Plate Girder Bridge" to cross 2 tracks, first lay the basic bridge across the tracks and set the height by placing 2 Locos underneath and allowing about 4 feet clearance. This is important because Plate Girder Bridge has an extra deep girder. Next, click "Get Height" and "Use Height" to make sure both ends are the same height. Then form another section of bridge and VERY gently stretch it until it forms a new abutment but stop stretching it before it forms a girder. Place the end of the new abutment in line with the bridge abutment after using Use Height to make sure the new abutment is the same height. It's best to line both abutments up in an aerial view. On the left side of the bridge you see the completed abutment - the blue brick makes the join virtually invisible. Of course, while you manoeuvre the section into position you must keep the shift key pressed down so that they don't physically join up! This will work with nearly any Trainz bridge and repeating sections of abutment you can construct a long brick viaduct.

Rolling Stock/Locomotives[edit]

  • You can load a car by pressing the ? button in Surveyor it will show you the list of loads it can take.
  • But quick easy way to get your engine from heaven out of the way is to upper left corner tab "remove missing dependancies" then save this will remove your ghost engine... ( did that myself one time and that worked for me).


Allows you to move freely around inside a train Cab. You're no longer locked into one place now. Works in TRS2006 and TC as far as I know.

Holding down shift allows 'zooming' speed in driver to check track connections without travelling the route at regular speed.

Quick and Easy Mountains and Slopes[edit]

-This is a two step process. Use the Fill area tool in the "Topology Menu" on an area I call the palette, just some base boards that I add to the route to create items to be copied for pasting elsewhere. I select "Hill" and fill an area at least three to four grid squares inside one full base board. It does not have to be square nor a full baseboard, just leave enough room around the filled area so later you can place all the copy lines at 0 elevation. If I'm after really big hills I use 4 base boards but again only fill up to 3 or 4 squares from the edge to leave the 0 level edge.

-Now the trick. In the "Tools" menu use copy and paste. Copy the "Hill" but be sure to have your copy lines just outside the raised area and at "0" elevation. This is important. Set the paste functions to height and RELATIVE. The relative is critical. This way you have no sharp edges on your pasted item and can overlap and compound with additional pastings to double the height of the new land form. By varying the original template from a gentle slope to sharp cone you can get almost any topography you wish. Also note that when you paste you can use half the hill by moving to the edge of a base board. That way your hills can start high at the edge of the route and slope down and in, acting as backdrops to the route. With a little bit of playing around you are just a few clicks away from mountains, hills, and slopes that cover entire base boards quickly and easily. -Stagger the paste in a brickwork fashion and rotate each time to avoid repetition. Planted trees/objects and now don't want them. Copy and paste a blank area of board onto the trees/objects and now they're gone.

To create nice gradients, lay the track first, set the spline heights then click on the "smooth spline height" button to snap the ground right up to the track! This works with curves and turnouts too, beautiful cuttings and embankments at no fuss at all!

For Prototypical Routes[edit]

1) Carefully look at the scale of the buildings your putting in your route. There are buildings on the DLS that are much too huge and way out of scale for modelling the real world. Rule of thumb- If a 200 ton diesel loco looks small next to a building in your route the building is probably too large and not to scale

2) There is nothing worse then driving your train over "floating track" that has a space between the track and the ground. When you are done laying all the track for your route, use the ground elevation tool to bring the ground up to your track. Don't bring your track down to the ground or you will lose the gradient you set for the track. Select the "ground up" button in the topography menu and gently tap your left mouse button to bring the ground up to your track. Keep doing it until the ground just starts to cover the edge of the track, then hit the undo button once to lower the ground one "mouse tap". Do this for your entire route. It is time consuming but the result is no more ugly space between your track and the ground.

3) Iron and steel bridges should have abutments at each end. Iron bridges do not magically emerge from the ground. It looks very fake. Also, track does not hang in the air when connecting to a bridge. (Would you drive a locomotive over that in real life?) Place a stone or concrete abutment to give it that prototypical look. Or use a retaining wall spline to give the bridge an abutment

4) Try to keep your industrial complexes a realistic size. Set surveyor to use "real scale" and measure the buildings from Sanborn maps. You will find that most factory complexes in the real world are actually much smaller then they appear.

5) In city areas, use textures that are kind of drab. Railroad yards and industrial sidings are very dirty, dark, unfriendly places. See the route "UK Somewhere" for an example of excellent example of texturing to give a route a "industrial look".

6) Don't use "black" textures for forests floors.

Track Laying Tips for Yards[edit]

First when laying a Yard out, do each half of a double ended yard with Track running in one direction then do the same for the opposite end. so that the track will look like this


That way your track marks will be facing in Opposite directions and will make it easier for AI Trains to move to the proper ends of the yard Also as a Naming Convention, Try to use a Formate like this N-S or E-W (Yard) Trk (#) NB-SB or EB-WB for your track marks that way you have things in nice and neat order when your want your AI Trains to Drive to or Drive Via a Certain Track mark.

Name junctions to tell what track it is.

Example: a run through track going from East to West. the west junction to the run trough track can be called WRT and the East ERT

yards major on e consist of 5 things.
  • Receiving yard
  • Classification Yard
  • departure Yard
  • local yard
  • service tracks

These all help the yard function.

Cars go to the receiving yard to the classification to the departure yard. the first yard ever to have this was Dewitt Yard in East Syracuse follow the tracks from old plans you sac easily run from one end to the other in this manner.

Service track is where bad cars and locos are fixed.

Local yard holds car used for local service at industries.

Another good thing to have is a storage area to store extra cars.

If your AI Drivers refuse to go into a siding or sidings try placing an Invisible Signal in front of the Bufferstop/Railend. I have a Goods Yard on my Route laid out exactly as it was in real life - you have to set back from the Main Line into the Headshunt then drive forward into the goods yard. The AI drivers wouldn't do it, but when I added the Invisible Signal they drove in OK. Apparently the line was "unsignalled" and that was the cause of the problem.

On UK Railways catch points were spring loaded trailing points provided on rising gradients to derail runaway wagons in the days when many wagons were only fitted with handbrakes or had "through" vacuum pipes. They are best used on lines where you normally let the AI drive and Alastair should not be allowed near them. They should be laid with rusty track and provided with a Catch Point sign

When making yards, with out a template, start with you mainline like this: ____________________________________________

Then off that make a normal spur that straightens out and and ends where ever.

___________________________ ___________________________\_____

Now make another off that like so.

___________________ ___________________\___ _______________________\____

Leaving a space so that you have an area for the junction so it don't mess up anything. I find this type of yard building much easier and better.

If track is floating, then there is a button on the top-right row of the advanced track tab (Can't think of it's name) that will change the ground height to the height of the track.

There are also tools in the advanced tab in the track tab that allow you to set gradients and spline point heights that I have found very useful.

Searching for content when building[edit]

When building a route there is an endless seeking for content, tracks and textures that you know that you have somewhere but everything drowns in the huge amount of material. I know about filters etc. but find it a bit tricky to organize. -To find and place what you want to use later on an empty baseboard and then get it by the pick tool is no news either, but I have added a little extra routine there that works very good for me.

-First I have to start with a time consuming and rather boring task, but it pays off very well in the long run. I start with an empty baseboard and then I fill it with all the content, textures etc. that I like and possibly want to use later. Yes, it takes a long time really to search trough everything and place it in proper order on the baseboard...

-Then I save that single baseboard, by the name "toolbox". Whenever I want to build a new route or go on with an already started route I simply merge the toolbox-baseboard to the route and pick whatever I need from the toolbox, easy and fast without a lot of boring and endless searching.

-When the route is ready, if that ever happens, I simply delete the toolbox. No time saved really with one single route, but the point is that you can use that saved toolbox to all routes you ever wish to build as many times you wish. The boring task to search for material is only necessary one time.

-If you have a large area such as a Town a Forest or a Major Road to build, make up a "Works Yard" on an empty baseboard. Go through EVERY type of house, tree or road bridge and put one example of each in the Works Yard so that you can compare them all and use the best ones. You'll often forget what Content you have available, and this is a good reminder My solution was not to try to put everything into one route, but to make separate, categorized routes with only one type of objects, and no more than 100 or so of those per route. I named the routes according to the type of objects that are installed on each ("Bridges 01", "Bridges 02", etc.)

I just use the "Get Object" tool to click on the object I'm interested in - I found no need for separate labels I just use the "Get Object" tool to click on the object I'm interested in - I found no need for separate labels.

Coupling to Consist[edit]

When you want to use AI to couple a Locomotive to a Train/Consist in a Siding the Locomotive will drive at Line Speed as far as the points for the siding and then at 1 MPH until it reaches the Train. This can be tiresome if the siding is very long, so what you do is 1) decide on a place (call it the Coupling Point) where the last vehicle in the Train/Consist will stand, this being the vehicle the Loco will couple to. About 5 yards from the Coupling Point pace a Signal Invisible on the track so that the AI Driver can see it as he approaches the Train. Then place an Invisible 5 0r 10 MPH Speed Limit on the entry to the siding, and (leaving the siding) a Speed Limit for whatever your Line Speed is. Now when the Loco enters the Siding it will drive at 5 or 10 MPH till it reaches the Signal Invisible (a few yards from the Train) and slow down to 1 MPH before coupling. This works like a charm for me.


Notes, Footnotes & References[edit]

Config.txt files are endemic and ever present in Trainz assets, for no asset can be defined without this type of Computer Science container. The keyword-value_of_key pairing must always be kept in mind in editing or creating Trainz content. The TrainzBaseSpec contains values and containers which are most common in asset defining config.txt files.