TRANSPORT SIMULATION UK

Sundry Strategy Titles

On this page you will find a brief overview of transport related strategy titles which have not received a more in depth feature on the main site. Check back as other titles may be added from time to time.

AIRLINE 6

Set up and run your own airline - whether running a fleet of turbo-props on short hops or long haul oceanic 747's, this programme will keep you engaged for hours. The graphics are fairly simple and there is no real sound support (would have been nice to see animations of your aircraft landing and taking off). There's a fair degree of micro-management involved, from setting up your timetable to configuring your fleet of aircraft, arranging maintenance, levels of in flight service etc.

Highly addictive and recommended!

Airline Simulation Homepage

BAHN

This neat little programme has been around since the 1990's. Essentially it's a rail/tram network simulation which allows the user to set up and replicate prototype operations. Although graphically very simple (the programme author has stuck with the same top-down, pseudo isometric view) it is in fact a very clever and complex piece of software. Once your basic network you can place signals, speed restrictions and other features in a very realistic manner. You set up timetables for the different routes you wish to operate and then must ensure there are enough resources to supply the departures at each location. This is a feature which many, more up to date strategy titles could have drawn on. Although it's been a while since I actively played Bahn, unlike other strategy titles there is no financial management or traffic flow analysis of your network - you just have to make sure everything runs properly and preferably on time.

Unfortunately, Bahn continues to offer no sound support which despite the in depth simulation element does mean it is a bit lacking.

Bahn is offered as shareware by the author (though you do get a generous 92 day trial period first) after which you must pay a small fee to register the programme. You can download additional networks to run within Bahn, though a quick trawl through the links on the Bahn website (some of which were dead) did not seem to reveal all that many. It's a shame but I guess the relatively primitive graphics, lack of sound and complexity mean that not all that many people are actually using Bahn any more. Nevertheless if you do have some time to kill and are looking for something slightly different then the programme might be worth a try.

Bahn Home-Page


Bahn V.3.84 Screenshot

RAIL 3D

Rail 3D started off in a similar vein to Bahn actually, a programme which enables the user to set up a working replica of their favourite rail route or network. The original version (now known as Rail 3D Classic) offered an isometric view similar to the commercial strategy titles. The latest - Rail 3D 2K - made a huge leap forward as can be seen from the screenshot allowing users to build route/layouts with realistic terrain more akin to a simulator than a strategy game. Although the terrain and graphics are simple compared to the commercial sims it is good fun to jump between trains and watch them carrying out the timetable. The one feature that lacks in Rail 3D is the implementation of sound effects. Reading the author's web site and the Wiki it seems the programme supports sound but they are still building a library of samples. Oh, Rail 3D is freeware, by the way.

I haven't personally created anything for Rail 3D so can't vouch how easy or hard it is to get good results. I guess the problem many content creators have in choosing which programme(s) to develop for, aside from personal preference is deciding which simulation will offer the widest end user base if you decide to share the work. In short, do I spend 13 weeks building a route for MSTS or Trainz which might be enjoyed by 1000's of other people, or 13 weeks building a Rail 3D network in return for simple graphics, no sound and a few dozen end users. Not always an easy choice.

One other thing to note with Rail 3D, is that much of the user activity - including distribution of routes etc. - takes place within a dedicated Yahoo group which is why not much is to be found openly on the net.

Rail 3D Home Page


Scene from a West Highland based route in Rail 3D 2K.

Screenshot from the SIAM Euston 1958 Traffic Control Game

SIAM PRODUCTS

Back in the dark ages of train gaming, SIAM were one of the most prolific creators of rail related software. Essentially two styles of game - the traffic simulation as illustrated here which casts you in the role of signalman and, in the more complex games, motive power arranger and shunter. They also produced a series of driver simulations but while interesting in their time have never been updated from the original text based/no sound presentation so are probably irrelevant in today's market.

The traffic control titles remain the mainstay of SIAM products and can be very compelling and addictive. I remember losing hours trying to get a 100% rating on Tehachapi 1991. Some, such as Carlisle 1970 or Lincoln 1952, take you through a full 24 hour period. Others, like Inverness 1970/1981 are more aimed at recapturing nostalgia and a bit of history.

A quick visit to the SIAM site shows that most of the titles are still available, though appears to be some issue running under Vista. Price wise, the SIAM games have never been cheap, getting on for £50 for the platinum titles, which I have to say is a bit pricey in this day and age especially given the rather dated presentation of the software.

Nevertheless, all things to all people and if you are looking for something a little different in your rail gaming collection a SIAM traffic control game might just be it.

SIAM Home Page

RAILROVER

This series of games will be of interest to the traction haulage "bashers" (or even just those seeking to recreate the nostalgic days when "real" trains ran on the UK network!). Comes in two versions - "Scottish Rover" which limits your travelling activity to Scotland (plus Carlisle) and "Hellfire" (the warcry of the 80's basher along with an arm extended at 90° out of an open Mark One coach droplight) which replicates travelling on all "All Line" Rover, the whole of the UK. The aim of the game is to accumulate mileage and achieve rare haulage behind types of loco not usually seen on passenger trains. Although probably appealing more to those with actual memories of the bashing experience, the gameplay is simple, fun and addictive.

Railrover Home Page

SIMSIG

If you are looking for an up to date series of accurate signalling simulations, which also have the distinct advantage of being freeware, then Simsig may be for you. The author and his associates know their stuff and the programmes are quite technical. While the original Simsig range focused on the latest IECC style signalbox, mostly computerised and with automatic route setting playing a large role, some newer titles now offer the more traditional Panel Box experience where the signaller has full hands on control of the train service.

Simsig Home Page

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(This page created 23/09/07 and last updated 23/09/07).