Running a simulation

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Start Screen

Running a simulation en.png

The Start Screen is what you’ll normally see when you start the application. Here is where you can start a new simulation, load a saved simulation, or run a scenario.

The Settings menu is also available from this screen, and enables you to configure subsequent simulations.

Additionally, links to recent news items from are provided to keep you up‐todate with information about current and upcoming products. Clicking the ‘View in Browser’ button will open the selected news item using your computer’s default browser.

Selecting ‘Cancel’ will close the Start Screen. ‘Quit’ will close the entire application.

Load Simulation

When loading a saved simulation, you’ll be prompted to select the desired saved simulation file. Simulation files all have the .sim extension. The default folder for saving and loading simulations can be set from within the Settings dialog.

Run Scenario

Scenarios are templates for new simulations that define a very specific set of starting conditions. They are useful for a variety of purposes, including the instruction of movement orders.

Be advised that simulations started from a scenario cannot be saved.

The scenarios are constructed using XML, and have many features which are not used in this version. More scenarios will be made available at

A scenario SDK may be released in the future, so you’ll be able to construct, test, and share your own scenarios!


The settings allow you to set personal preferences to change, among other things, the difficulty level of the simulation. For new players, it’s easier to use the default settings to learn the basics, but for advanced players, it’s more fun to add some complexity and unpredictability.

Start Date and Time

This is the day and time at which new simulations will begin. Setting the day to a Saturday, Sunday, or even a holiday will result in a different dispatching experience than if the simulation starts at 08:00 Monday morning!


In a perfect world, all trains would arrive precisely on time. You can add real‐world messiness by increasing the chance that any train is late, by increasing Chance of Delays. The second control determines the Severity of Delays or lateness of trains. Not all trains will be late by the same amount, but the simulation will create delays that are mostly light, mostly heavy, or somewhere in between. For a crazy day, set Chance of Delays to 100%, and Severity of Delays to Heavy.


Engineering Works: Maintenance workers routinely take possession of tracks. For the dispatcher, this means coordinating with the workers to avoid accidents.

Switch Greasing: Switch greasers are maintenance workers who follow a schedule around the yard. They will periodically call the dispatcher to request that a particular switch be thrown, so they can apply lubricant. Increasing the chance of switch greasing will make for a busier dispatching session.

Chance of Poor Weather: Poor weather includes rain, snow, and fog. When these occur, trains tend to slow down as drivers cannot see as far as they normally can. When this happens, dispatching becomes more difficult, as you must wait longer for trains to get to where they need to go. Increasing this slider value not only increases the chance of poor weather, but also the severity.

Chance of Extra Trains: Extra trains are unscheduled trains that may arrive at any time. These trains each have the prefix ‘66’ added to their train number, so any train with an ID 66000 through 66999 is an extra train. The neighbouring dispatcher will call to announce the train.

Longer Station Dwelling: Trains, when stopped at a station, normally depart on time. Sometimes, however, the driver spills coffee on his lap and so the train does not leave the station according to the schedule.

Irregularities and Failures: This slider increases the chance that a train will suffer a defect, or that a catenary group will lose power. These defects are random, and as a dispatcher, you must be prepared to work around them.

Saving and Loading

Here, the default directory is defined when saving and loading simulations. By default, this directory is the located within the application data folder. It would be rare and unusual to have to change this directory.


This is where the default sound volume can be changed. To fully mute the sound, check the Mute Sound checkbox. When pressing the Test button, you should here a bell sound. The sound volume can also be changed during the simulation by clicking the icon in the status bar. The simulation uses Microsoft DirectX to perform sound output. The associated sound assemblies (DLLs) are listed here for support purposes.

Expert Options

The expert options are options that allow the player to customise the simulation experience according to their own skill level. Ultimately, these options control the realism of the simulation.

Use AI dispatchers where possible
When enabled, trains are dispatched automatically in areas where AI dispatchers exist.
Coworkers give hints about which trains are waiting for a route to be set
If a train is stopped at a signal, coworkers will remind you that the train needs to have a route set for it.
Pause the simulation when the player is not interacting for a long time
Problems may arise when the player is away from the simulation for an extended period of time - the simulation was not designed to run without any human input! This option causes a message box to appear when the player is not interacting with the simulation.
Enable stopped trains when starting a new simulation
This allows the simulation to intelligently determine where some trains should be in the yard, had the simulation started earlier. This simulates the action of 'inheriting' trains from a previous dispatching shift.
Show dispatcher briefing when starting new simulation
When checked, the Briefing dialogwindow is shown at the beginning of each new simulation. When unchecked, the briefing is not shown, but the information the briefing would otherwise contain is still accessible via the Notebook window.
Enable stabled trains when starting a new simulation
This allows the simulation to place staffed and unstaffed trains on specific tracks. These trains are often useful when shunting around the yard.
Show specific locations when viewing train data
In some cases, trains show specific locations when passing over switches. For some people, this information is not needed, and a more general location name is used instead. When checked, this option causes the simulation to show more specific location names when possible.
'Pre-simulate' traffic when starting new simulations
This quickly simulates traffic before starting a simulation. This generates a realistic amount of traffic.
Amount of time, in minutes, to 'pre-simulate' traffic
When presimulating, reset automated signals to their defaults
When checked, the default automated signals are activated. When not checked, the automated signals are in the same state as they were when in the most recent simulation.

Show Expert Levels during simulation start-up
Expert Levels are timetable presets that allow you to choose which train series appear in the simulation. When enabled, and when using a timetable that supports Expert Levels, a dialog will be shown during the simulation loading process.
Minimum number of upcoming trains shown in the Train Overview window
This number controls how far ahead into the future the Train Overview looks when showing upcoming trains.

Allow manual operation of catenary system
Manual operation of the catenary system requires that the dispatcher take over the duties of the person normally responsible for managing the catenary switches. This makes it more challenging, since the dispatcher must plan ahead when engineering works require disabling of some segments of the catenary system.

Route Setting
Show route setting feedback information
Route events (either success or failure) are indicated in the status bar. This provides useful, albeit unrealistic, information about when, where and why routes are set or not set.
Beep when a route is called
When setting a route, the dispatcher normally receives feedback that the route was successfully called because the switches move and lock into position. For some routes, there is little or no confirmation that the route was called.
Beep only when a route has no switches moving.
When this option is set, an audible beep occurs only when there are no switches that move into position. This is helpful for beginners who need feedback.
Level Crossings close as soon as route is set
Level crossings normally close as soon as route is set. This might lead to more frequent alarms if you just stack the route. If you turn off this option, the level crossings will stay open, until the signal can clear. You might encounter less level crossings going into alarm state.
Maximum time (in seconds) before panel button input cancels automatically. Put another way, you have X seconds to press an end button after pressing a start button.
Save last settings of fleeted signals for next simulation session
Show signal automation problems as they occur
When a signal attempts to set a route (when automation is enabled) but the route is not fully set, the signal will enter an alarm state (with a buzzer) after a certain time. For large layouts, it is sometimes difficult to locate the problem signal quickly. This option, when enabled, shows a window from which you can manage the problem.

Do not indicate when a communication is complete
Successful communications are terminated with a visual confirmation. Checking this option removes this confirmation.
Automatically hide and show the Communications window
If the Communications window is hidden, it will be shown when there is an incoming call. Pressing 'C' will manually show and hide the window.
Automatically hide and show the Conversation window
If the Conversation window is hidden, it will be shown when there is an incoming call. Pressing 'X' will manually show and hide the window.
Use greyscale colours in conversation window
When checked, each conversation is colour-coded using shades of grey, instead of the normal pastel colours.
Neighbours call to announce delays and timetable deviations
Neighbours normally call to announcing delayed or out of order trains. In some situations, this is not needed and can be switched off.
Offered trains can be moving with a speed of 40km/h or less
When checked, this option allows offering of moving trains to freight yards. When not checked, offered trains must be stopped. Note: there is always the possibility that the train will be refused.
New telephone calls ring only once
When checked, telephone ring tones occur once only. New telephone calls ring once only and do not loop. Uncheck this option to rid yourself of those annoying multiple rings.
Drivers are impatient when waiting for long periods of time
Drivers often become impatient when standing for long periods of time. When checked, this option causes drivers to be extra impatient, requiring that the player dispatches as efficiently and as timely as possible.
Dispatcher must choose correct wrong line written order when communicating with drivers
When NOT checked, issuing wrong line working written orders to drivers can only occur following approval from a neighbour. When checked, this option allows the dispatcher to issue an incorrect written order.

Movement Orders
Driver can execute movement orders in areas with switches
When executing turnaround or uncoupling orders, drivers normally move to the end of a route, such that they are not occupying switches. When drivers DO stop in switches, there may be side effects which must be handled by the dispatcher.
Do not confirm staffing/unstaffing instructions
When staffing or unstaffing trains, an "Are you sure?" dialog appears. When checked, this option disables the confirmation.
Trains can decide to discard turnaround orders if it means they can execute a coupling order
In the simulation, movement orders are simple, ordered lists. In real life, drivers are able to discard some orders in situations where they are not needed. If a driver has several turnaround orders, followed by a coupling order, checking this option allows the driver to 'skip' the turnaround orders and couple immediately.
Do not confirm deletion of prepared movement orders
When deleting prepared orders, an "Are you sure?" dialog box appears. When checked, this option disables the confirmation.----

Dispatcher Assistant
Dispatcher Assistant may not be prompt when getting movement orders out to drivers
When the Dispatcher Assistant is responsible for getting movement orders to drivers, the orders may not arrive promptly or predictably if this option is checked.
A Dispatcher Assistant is available to coordinate hand-delivery of movement orders
When checked, this option allows players to get prepared orders delivered to drivers without the need to talk to the driver directly.
Trains must be stopped when movement orders are delivered via yard master
When the dispatcher assistant is responsible for delivering movement orders to a train, the train in real life should be stopped. When not checked, this option allows orders to be received when the train is not completely stopped.

Train Descriptors
Dispatcher Screen displays train information as in real life
When checked, trains are separated by parity (odd trains numbers in the left column, even numbers in the right column). When NOT checked, this option puts left-moving trains in the left column, right-moving trains in the right column.
Swap the Dispatcher Screen columns
When checked, the left and right columns of the Dispatcher Screen are switched.
Automatically change screens as simulation panel is scrolled
When checked, the Train Descriptor / Dispatcher Screens change automatically, depending upon when portion of the simulation panel is visible.
TNV Train descriptor overview operates as in real life
the system can renumber regular situations automatically via a scripting system. In all other cases, the dispatcher needs to change number manually. To ease of this amount of extra work, you can turn off the expert option and let the system do the most work for you. Still some work is needed if you see an alarm number appearing!

Show halos around or above some panel items to improve visibility or indicate possible actions
This option is intended for people who may have difficulty seeing the panel items clearly. Other enhancements include visual cues to indicate which routes are settable. When enabled here, this option can be toggled using the F2 key.
  • Announcement buttons
  • Track occupancy lights
  • Signal buttons
  • Stop/Through buttons
  • Platform buttons
  • Signal lights for VCVL signals
  • Automatic block section occupation lights
  • Route Setting Suggestions

Sound Cancellation
  • Announcement Buzzer
  • VCVL Buzzer
  • RR Crossing Defect Buzzer
  • Telerail Ringer
  • CPZ Ringer

Level Crossings
Level crossings can go into an alarm state
If you activate this option, the level crossing CAN go into a defective state. If you leave it off, level crossings will never be a pain to you.
Level crossings can experience road vehicle crashes
If you activate this option, trains can get into problems if you don't issue the Written Order Level Crossing properly.
Full Barriers require manual locking
When checked, the dispatcher must close full barriers manually with BÜFT before the crossing is locked. (German Layouts only)
Use "classic" level crossing written order form
When checked, the older railroad crossing written order forms are used. When not checked, the modern forms are used. The two forms differ only visually, and gameplay is not affected when using one form over another.

Passengers Information Displays (PIDs)
PID units require management
The PID units are the machines at the platforms that display timetable information for passengers. When checked, this option requires that the information be updated. More fun, but also more work!
PID operating system can make sounds
The PID operating system makes a 'ticking' sound when operating. For some players this can be annoying, so it can be disabled by unchecking this option.
Mirror the location changes when managing PID
The PID system is managed using the PID operating system window, and is viewed using the PID window. When a location is selected in either of the two windows, the other window will automatically change so both screens match. When not checked the two windows are independent of each other.
CTA Units window is available during a simulation
The CTA Units window sometimes uses a significant amount of system resources. For people with less powerful machines, it is sometimes advantageous to disable the CTA Units window.

Engineering Works

Maximum engineering work duration, in minutes


From the Current Language drop down list, select one of three languages. The language change takes effect when you exit the Settings dialog.

When the application starts for the very first time, you’ll be asked to confirm which language you wish to use.


When starting a new simulation, you are presented with a briefing screen:


This is analogous to what you would receive from a dispatching colleague during a shift change. It outlines the important things you need to know to continue on dispatching, now that the previous dispatcher has gone home.

The above briefing gives a lot of information. The first three lines indicate that

  • track 311 has two trains: loc 1700, at 5m; loc 1600 is at 30m
  • track 505 is occupied by train Rs at 5m
  • train 431734 is 430m on track 407

For tracks that have more than one train on them, we’re told where the trains are: the distance in metres is from the left edge of the track.

We’re reminded of what the date is, and when the sun rise/set times. This information is useful when we need to change the signal dimmer switch. The visibility is also good, as it is more than 1000m.

When ready, press I’m Ready!

The Notebook

The notebook has the same information from the briefing. You can add your own text to the notebook by right‐clicking on text items in the Conversation window. To remove a note, simple click on it using the right mouse button. The notebook is very handy for remembering important things like how late a certain train is, or the order of trains that are out of sequence, as reported by your neighbouring dispatchers.


You can also write yourself messages – simply type in the text box and click the pencil icon to add to the list.

When you right‐click on a note to remove it, it gets sent to the ‘trash bin’ with a strikethrough. Your trash bin is not that large, so only delete things when you’re sure you won’t need them any longer.

Keyboard Shortcuts


Key Function
P Pause/Resume simulation
+ / - (Key Pad) Increase / Decrease simulation speed (4x max, 0x = Pause)
Spacebar Brings Number Entry to front (i.e., makes it active)
F3 Toggles route aid (purple/yellow rings around panel buttons)
F5 Gets a red collar for panel buttons
F6 Removes a red collar
F7 Gets a glass collar for a panel button
F8 Removes a glass collar
Esc(ape) Cancel collar placement
Spacebar Brings Number Entry to front (i.e., makes it active)
G Show / Hide Group Buttons
H Show / Hide Number Entry
J Show / Hide ZNP801
T Show / Hide Train Overview
M Show / Hide Movement Orders
C Show / Hide Communications panel
X Show / Hide Conversations panel
E Show / Hide Engineering Works
N Show / Hide Notebook
1, 2, 3, ... 8, 9, 0 Navigate to different areas of the panel

Number Entry Panel

Please refer to Number Entry page

ZNP panel

Key Function
1,2,3, … 8, 9, 0 (Keypad) train numbers
F used when typing error numbers
N Accept Train (ANN)
L Clear commands (LOE)
B Offer Train (ANB)
O Refuse / Delete Train (ZNL)
F1-F12 Station buttons
Enter/Return Send (ZNS)

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