Train Simulator

Train Simulator (video game)

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Not to be confused with Train Sim World.
Train Simulator
Developer(s)Dovetail Games
Publisher(s)Dovetail Games
Producer(s)Paul Jackson
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
Release12 June 2009

Train Simulator (originally RailWorks) is a train simulation game developed by Dovetail Games.[1] It is the successor to Rail Simulator, and was released online on 12 June 2009 and in stores on 3 July 2009.[2]

The first release of RailWorks contained all five real-world routes of the original European and North American releases of Rail Simulator, and added three new fictional routes: Hedborough North, a large UK goods yard, Seebergbahn, a route set in the Alpine region and Castle Rock Railroad, a route based around Denver, Colorado.[3]

It is a Steamworks title, which means it uses and requires Steam to activate and to deliver core game updates. Steam is used to deliver additional routes and locomotives in the form of downloadable content. The core game has received several updates since release, including major new versions RailWorks 2: Train SimulatorRailWorks 3: Train Simulator 2012Train Simulator 2013Train Simulator 2014Train Simulator 2015Train Simulator 2016Train Simulator 2017Train Simulator 2018Train Simulator 2019Train Simulator 2020 and Train Simulator 2021 released between 2010 and 2020, respectively.


The first major update to RailWorks was RailWorks 2: Train Simulator, released on Steam on 18 October 2010 under the name RailWorks 2. Retail versions were released later that year. The new version contained a range of new features and enhancements, including enhanced menus, the new RS Cab Control driver interface and new RS Career System scenarios. Players could earn Steam Achievements for completing scenarios, as well as compete and compare scores online via Steam Leaderboards. It also featured level crossing animations, among other improvements.[4] RailWorks 2 featured the same routes and content as the original game, and only one new route: TestTraK, based on the Test and validation centre, a German testing facility owned by Siemens Mobility used for technical acceptance tests and approvals of locomotives and rolling stock.[5] Contents in retail versions could vary in different countries to include local routes and locomotives. Owners of the original RailWorks received a free upgrade to the RailWorks 2 core technology via the Steam platform.

RailWorks 3: Train Simulator 2012 was released on Steam on 23 September 2011 under the name Train Simulator 2012. Retail versions were released later that year. It contained a number of improvements and new features, including a new user interface, action-oriented loading screens, the new TSX game engine with multi-core and FXAA support and many graphical improvements (including extended draw distance, improved lighting and shadows, enhanced sky and water effects, new depth of field camera focus effect and particle effects, (e.g. rain drops on locomotive windows with working wipers), superelevation to allow simulation of curved tracks, improved track unevenness and cab camera movement increasing with speed, improved editing tools and others.[6][7] The base package contained nine routes,[8] and those who purchased from Steam or purchased the retail Deluxe Edition, also received the Horseshoe Curve route.[9] Contents in retail versions could vary in different countries to include local routes and locomotives. Owners of RailWorks 2 received a free upgrade to the TS2012 core technology via the Steam platform.

Train Simulator 2013 was released on Steam in two editions. The Standard Edition, available for a limited time, was released on 20 September 2012.[10] The Deluxe Edition was released on 10 October 2012.[11] Retail versions were available from October that year. New features and improvements included Xbox 360 Controller support, Relay Play mode allowing for users to combine efforts to complete scenarios (removed since Train Simulator 2014), new menus and control options (including the new Quick Drive mode), updated HUDs, improved 2D task map and support for a new community download center using the Steam Workshop where players can share and download free user-created scenarios. It also featured enhanced graphics and performance improvements. A route included with previous versions, Hagen–Siegen, was heavily updated and renamed the Ruhr–Sieg Line. Routes included with the Standard Edition were Sherman HillLondon–BrightonNortheast Corridor and Isle of Wight. The Deluxe Edition included Sherman Hill, London–Brighton and Munich–Augsburg.[10] Contents in retail versions could vary in different countries to include local routes and locomotives.[12] Owners of Train Simulator 2012 received a free upgrade to the TS2013 core technology via the Steam platform.

Train Simulator 2014 was released on Steam in two editions. The Steam Edition was released on 26 September 2013, and the Standard Edition on 7 October 2013.[13] Retail versions were available from 4 October that year. It featured a new menu system, better graphics including increased draw distance and headlight flares, a new camera system with user-adjustable FOV, improved passenger appearance and behaviour, improved editing tools, expanded Quick Drive mode and an enhanced Career mode, letting players earn points towards medals, rewards and achievements. The new Engine Driver community website was made accessible in-game. The Steam Workshop feature was expanded to support free user-created routes, in addition to scenarios, and the new Marketplace was designed to make it simpler to share and obtain new third-party payware content. Routes included with the Standard Edition were Hamburg–HanoverLondon–Faversham High Speed and Donner Pass: Southern Pacific.[14] Those who purchased the Steam Edition, also received an additional seven-mile (11 km) Sheerness Branch line in Kent (an extension to the London–Faversham High Speed route) and two extra locomotives (Class 466 and SD70M). Contents in retail versions could vary in different countries to include local routes and locomotives. Owners of Train Simulator 2013 received a free upgrade to the TS2014 core technology via the Steam platform.

Train Simulator 2015, was released on Steam on 18 September 2014 as a Standard Edition and a Steam Edition. Retail versions were available from 19 September that year. It introduced several improvements and a learning mode called TS Academy, a training area designed to introduce new players to the series quickly and easily. Routes included with the Standard Edition were East Coast Main Line: London–PeterboroughNortheast Corridor: New York–New Haven and Munich–Garmisch-Partenkirchen.[15] Those who purchased the Steam Edition, also received the Pacific Surfliner: LA–San Diego route and two extra locomotives (Los Angeles Commuter Rail F59PH and San Diego Commuter Rail F59PHI). Contents in retail versions could vary in different countries to include local routes and locomotives. Owners of Train Simulator 2014 received a free upgrade to the TS2015 core technology via the Steam platform.

Train Simulator 2016 was released on Steam on 17 September 2015 as Train Simulator 2016: Steam Edition. This version provides a selection of new ‘extreme’ challenges set across a variety of different eras with the addition of the long-requested « Railfan » feature.[16]

Train Simulator 2017 was released on Steam on 16 September 2016. A limited edition of Train Simulator 2017, called Pioneers Edition, was available for players until 7 December 2016. The Pioneers Edition included two bonuses: a bonus route, Semmeringbahn: Mürzzuschlag to Gloggnitz and the ability to have beta access to Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul, an Unreal Engine 4 made game that was released in early 2017.[17] The beta access to Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul started at 8 December 2016 at around 6pm GMT.[18]

Train Simulator 2018 was announced on 23 October 2017,[19] and was released on 16 November 2017.[20]

Train Simulator 2019 – which moves from 32bit to 64bit – was released on 11 October 2018 with 3 routes and 2 route extensions; Soldier Summit and Salt Lake City Extension, the Rhine Railway and Frankfurt High Speed Extension, and the re-worked Portsmouth Direct Line now including Waterloo.

Train Simulator 2020, released on 19 September 2019, comes with three routes: Nuremberg & RegensburgSouth Western Main Line: Southampton – Bournemouth and Norfolk Southern N-Line. It also comes with some graphical improvements, and filters for taking photos in-game.[21]

Train Simulator 2021, released on 17 September 2020, comes with three routes: Norddeutsche-bahn: Kiel – Lübeck, Clinchfield Railroad, the Fife Circle Line and an additional route that came with the Deluxe Edition, the West Coast Main Line South: London Euston – Birmingham. It also came with the new-improved Steam Workshop.[22]


The game features steamdiesel and electric traction trains; keyboard, mouse or gamepad control of throttles, brakes and switches with Simple and Expert driving models for varying player skills. A variety of scenarios are available for Standard and Career modes, as well as an exploratory style Free Roam mode. Quick Drive mode allows a player to pick a train (or to put together their own by snapping together cars), choose a route, set departure and destination stations and decide on the time of day, the season and the weather. Cargo and passengers are animated, and weather changes dynamically with time. Steam Workshop allows players to upload and download additional user-created routes and scenarios.

Routes (RailWorks to TS2021)

The original RailWorks base package contained eight routes, most of which are available now as legacy DLC. The three fictional routes originally introduced in RailWorks and subsequently withdrawn in Train Simulator 2013 (Hedborough North, Seebergbahn and Castle Rock Railroad) are not available as DLC but are available as free downloads on Steam Workshop as official uploads by Dovetail Games, branded as Classic Routes. In 2010, users could add the free Port Road route DLC to their Steam accounts, but it is no longer available. Set in the final years of steam operations, Port Road represents the branch line from Dumfries to Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright, part of the now-defunct Dumfries to Stranraer line in Scotland.[23] The route has since been re-released in the Western Lines of Scotland route, and was extended to from Stranraer to Carlisle.

The 2014 released version of the game, Train Simulator 2015, contained only three or four routes, depending on the edition; East Coast Main Line: London–PeterboroughNortheast Corridor: New York–New Haven and Munich–Garmisch-Partenkirchen included with the Standard Edition, plus the Pacific Surfliner: LA–San Diego included with the Steam Edition. People who purchased Train Simulator before 18 September 2014 retained their original content, and had the option to purchase the new routes via Steam.[13][24]

The 2015 released version of the game, Train Simulator 2016, contained three routes: Sherman Hill featuring the Union Pacific SW10, ES44AC, SD70M and GTEL. The Riviera Line in the 50s contains the GWR Castle, King, Grange, modified Hall and Pannier classes. The West Rhine route contains the DB classes 101, 146.0, 146.2, 155 & 294. The Steam Edition included an additional route: the Norfolk Southern Coal District route containing the Norfolk Southern ES44AC.

The 2016 released version of the game, Train Simulator 2017, contains four routes: LGV: Marseilles-Avignon featuring the French TGV Duplex Train. The South Wales Coastal Route contains the Arriva Trains Wales Class 175, the GWR Class 43 (HST), and Freightliner Class 70. The Hamburg-Lübeck Railway contains the DB BR 145 and 218 and the DBAG Class 294. The North Jersey Coast Line contains the Bombardier ALP-45DP and drivable Comet V cab car. The Pioneer Edition of the game includes the Semmeringbahn Route, contains the ÖBB Class 1116. The Pioneer Edition is available until 7 December 2016 as a way to opt into the Train Sim World beta.

The 2017 released version of the game, Train Simulator 2018, includes three routes: North Wales Coastal: Crewe-Llandudno and Conwy featuring the Virgin Trains Class 221, Arriva Trains Wales Class 158 and Class 175; Peninsula Corridor: San Francisco-San Jose containing the CalTrain MP36PH-3C, drivable Bombardier Bi-Level Cab Car, and Union Pacific GP38-2; and Mittenwaldbahn: Garmisch-Partenkirchen-Innsbruck, including the DB BR 442 and ÖBB 2016.

The 2018 released version of the game, Train Simulator 2019, the first edition based on a 64-bit engine, includes five routes (three main routes and two route extensions): Portsmouth Direct Line: London Waterloo – Portsmouth featuring BR Classes 444, 450, 455/8 and 377, Soldier Summit Route featuring D&RGW GP9, Amtrak F40PH and D&RGW SD40T-2, Salt Lake City Route Extension (this is an add-on to the Soldier Summit Route), The Rhine Railway: Mannheim – Karlsruhe including the DB BR 406 ICE 3M, DB BR 189, DB BR 425 and DB BR 294, Frankfurt High Speed: Frankfurt – Karlsruhe (this is an add-on to the Rhine Railway Route).

The 2019 released version of the game, Train Simulator 2020, includes three new routes, one of which is exclusive to this version. They are: Nuremberg & Regensburg Bahn featuring DB BR 440’s, 442’s and 185’s, South Western Main Line: Southampton – Bournemouth featuring BR Classes 444 and 450 ‘Desiro’ EMU’s with the exclusive LNER A2 ‘Blue Peter’ steam locomotive, and Norfolk Southern N-Line featuring NS Electro-Motive, EMD GP38-2s and NS EMD GP40-2 and several new freight rolling stock.

The 2020 released version of the game, Train Simulator 2021, includes three new routes. They are: Norddeutsche-Bahn: Kiel – Lübeck featuring DB BR 218’s, 648’s, Fife Circle Line: Edinburgh – Dunfermline featuring BR Classes 68, 158 and the Class 170 DMU in the ScotRail Liveries, and the steam locomotive LNER A4 ‘Union of South Africa’ , and the Clinchfield Railroad: Elkhorn City – St. Paul featuring CRR Electro-Motive, EMD GP38-2s, F7’s, SD40-2s and the GP7’s. The Deluxe edition additionally includes the WCML South: London Euston – Birmingham New Street Route featuring lots of locomotives including the new Class 390 and 221s in Avanti West Coast liveries, Freightliner Powerhaul Class 66s for freight activities, Midland Class 350 ‘Desiro’, Class 377 and 378 EMUs.

Third party add-ons

There are many third party add-on developers for Train Simulator, including Alan Thomson Sim, Armstrong Powerhouse, Backdated Train Sim, DP Simulations, G-Trax, Just Trains, Reppo, Searchlight Simulations, Smokebox, Railworks America (RWA) , Train Sim Community Corner, TruRail Simulations, UK Train Sim and Vulcan Productions. Most of this third party content have been added as TS Steam DLCs while some non-steam products could be downloaded from the author’s official websites.

Editing tools

A complete suite of tools is also available to customize content. This allows terrain modeling either by hand using the tools provided or by importing digital elevation model (DEM) data from NASA. Track construction based on a system of straights and arcs, allows infinitely possible junction configurations, and scenery placement. A scenario editor allows the creation of tasks such as picking up passengers, hauling cargo and shunting wagons around yards. These tools also allow players to build unlimited sizes of layouts, create their own scenery and rolling stock and to modify the provided content by adding features or re-skins.

Downloadable content

Various add-ons are available for Train Simulator, containing routes, locomotives and/or multiple units for Quick Drive use, as well as scenarios for Standard, Career and Free Roam modes.[25] Examples include the fictional Rascal & Cottonwood route from All Aboard and packs of the LMS Jubilees and the GWR 4900 Class locomotives. Available from both Steam and from various third party websites.

The game is infamous for its numerous downloadable content, costing over $10,000 in its entirety.[26]

The game is also famous for its community-based websites that create user-generated content both freeware and payware.

These third-party creators have made successful business based around the Train Simulator brand and community.[27]

Critical reception

IGN gave RailWorks a 7/10 or « good » stating that the game « doesn’t bring a lot of new stuff to the genre » and graphically « lacks the high-end flair of today’s top-level titles ».[28]

On 17 March 2011, it was announced that RailWorks 2 had won the award for Simulation of the Year 2010 by readers of Game Industry News (GiN).[29]


Since 2014, Dovetail Games has been working on the next generation of the Train Simulator franchise,[30] titled Train Sim World, utilizing Epic Games‘ Unreal Engine 4 technology. Train Sim World was released on 16 March 2017, under its new name, Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul. It features the ‘Sand Patch Grade‘ route, complete with three locomotives (the SD40-2, GP38-2, and the AC4400CW), as well as a fully immersive first-person mode. It was released for the Xbox One as Train Sim World: Founders Edition a year later on 9 March 2018 and released on PS4 on 24 July 2018 with 3 routes Great Western Express, Rapid Transit and NEC: New York (along with Xbox One at the same time).[31]

On 20 July 2017, the first DLC pack for the game was announced, titled Great Western Express.[32] The pack was made available for pre-order, with the release date set as 24 August 2017. The pack includes the Great Western Mainline from London Paddington to Reading, as well as the InterCity 125 high speed train, British Rail Class 166 Networker Turbo and Class 66 freight train. The pack is themed around the current franchise holder for the GWML (Great Western Mainline), Great Western Railway (GWR).

Great Western Express was delayed to 14 September 2017, three weeks from its original release date. The expansion was apparently not ready for release; however, in posts on Steam and the Train Simulator website, it was claimed to be to ‘extend the pre-order date’.[33]

Despite the new game, Dovetail Games has said that it will continue to support, and create new content for, the previous-generation Train Simulator.[30]