Microsoft Train Simulator

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Microsoft Train Simulator
Developer(s)Kuju Entertainment
Director(s)Paul Chamberlain
Designer(s)Phil Marley
Programmer(s)Rhona Robson
Artist(s)Dan Frith
Tony Zottola
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows (95, 98, 2000, ME, XP)
ReleaseMay 2001
Mode(s)Single player

Microsoft Train Simulator (abbreviated to MSTS) is a train simulator for Microsoft Windows, released in May 2001 and developed by UK-based Kuju Entertainment.[1] It sold one million units worldwide by 2005.


The simulation allows players to operate a train on various routes in Europe, Asia, and North America. Players need to stop and start the train, couple wagons, using the computer mouse, keyboard or a hardware addition such as Raildriver to operate the controls. Sound effects are enabled.[2]


The original game featured six routes: (four in 1,435 Gauge and two in 1,067 Gauge)

Included with the game is the Editors & Tools program, which allows the user to build custom routes, create activities for any route, create custom consists, create custom cabviews or edit the default ones.

Locomotives (1.0/1.2)[edit]

The 1.0 base package contains 9 drivable locomotives and multiple units plus 8 AI locomotives/multiple units (AI units cannot be operated by the player without modification).

Large amounts of post-release DLC was also distributed, providing routes, locomotives, wagons and sessions.

Wagons (1.0/1.2)[edit]

The 1.0 base package contains 7 Passenger Car Types plus Various BNSF Freight Cars.

Large amounts of post-release DLC was also distributed, providing routes, locomotives, wagons and sessions.

Gameplay issues[edit]

The original version contained many bugs. For example, the "front coupling bug", where the locomotive's front coupler would not work, the "white void bug", where the route scenery disappears, leaving a white void, and the "end-of-the-line bug", where the locomotive, if it crashes through the last buffers on the route, would fall into an empty void. There are also issues with the signalling and AI dispatching.

The game is also notoriously unstable, with unusually high tendencies to hang or crash without reason, and display error messages incorrectly and/or at the wrong times. In many instances, out-of-place error messages, usually for missing files, will cause a crash at the wrong time. MSTS 1.2 addressed some of these issues.[3]


Version 1.2 added new items such as British and American rolling stock, namely the British Rail Class 50, British Rail Mark 1 Coaches, EMD SD40-2 and general US freight cars, along with two new activities each for the SD40-2 and Class 50.[when?][citation needed]



Train Simulator achieved domestic sales of 191,952 units by the end of 2001, which drew revenues of $8.7 million.[4] These numbers rose to 330,000 copies ($11.6 million) in the United States alone by August 2006. At the time, this led Edge to rank it as the country's 54th-best-selling computer game released since January 2000.[5]

Internationally, Train Simulator received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[6] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[7] In the German market, the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (VUD) presented it with a "Gold" certification in early 2003,[8] for sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[9]

Train Simulator ultimately sold one million units by 2005,[10] and is, despite its age, still very popular and has a large, active community.[11]

Reviews and awards[edit]

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences nominated Microsoft Train Simulator for its 2001 "Computer Simulation Game of the Year" award,[12] which ultimately went to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002.[13]


The game features mod support as routes, trains, cargoes, scenery, etc. are abundant in the game. The installment of the mods is somewhat tricky since they have to be loaded into set files like Routes for Routes and Trainset for Trains, rollingstock, consists, etc. Over 1,000 mods were created for the game and are mostly hosted on community sites such as, and, to name a few.[14] Additionally, MSTS BIN, a community mod that aimed to add features and fix old MSTS bugs has since been released.[15]

Cancelled sequel[edit]

On May 7, 2003, Microsoft announced that it would be developing a sequel called Microsoft Train Simulator 2[16] and it was first demoed to the public at E3 on May 15.[17] Seemingly its main improvements were the addition of people to the game (e.g. passengers waiting at the stations, people operating the new locomotive roster, etc.), more realistic crashes and other accidents, and turntables. It was being developed by Kuju Entertainment, the original MSTS creators. Despite restructuring efforts at Kuju, the project was however handed over to Microsoft Game Studios on August 18, 2003.[18]

This project was ultimately halted, as the following statement on April 24, 2004 from Microsoft confirmed:

Microsoft Game Studios has halted the Windows-based game "Train Simulator 2.0." The decision to halt "Train Simulator 2.0" was made some time ago and was based on a long, hard and difficult look at our business objectives and product offerings. We remain focused on the simulations category with successful, platform-driving franchises such as "Microsoft Flight Simulator."[19]

On January 19, 2007, Microsoft announced the relaunch of the Microsoft Train Simulator project. This time the game was being made in-house by Aces Game Studio (Microsoft Game Studios) known for its long line of Microsoft Flight Simulators, as a part of the "Games for Windows" initiative. The game would have used the Microsoft Flight Simulator X graphics engine and it was planned to be compatible with both Windows Vista and Windows XP. A post on 'The Little Wheel Goes in Back' blog, written by one of the developers, on August 23, 2007 suggested the working title was 'Train Simulator 2'.[20]

On January 23, 2009, Microsoft announced that it was permanently closing Aces Game Studios, the internal development studio responsible for the Microsoft Flight Simulator series and the development of Microsoft Train Simulator 2. As a result, all future development on Train Simulator 2 (which was entering the final stages of development at the time of the closure) was immediately halted, marking the second time that the project was terminated. While Microsoft stated that "they are committed to both the Flight Simulator and Train Simulator brands", it is unknown if the Train Simulator 2 project will ever be resurrected and completed sometime in the future. However, considering the fact that they discontinued support for Windows XP in 2014 and Windows Vista in 2017 (the two operating systems the second attempt was to be compatible with), as well as the Games for Windows initiative discontinued in 2013, it seems unlikely.

Many former employees of Aces Game Studios went on to join Cascade Game Foundry, a new company that was itself founded by two Aces alumni. Cascade Game Foundry focuses on developing entertainment simulations.[21]

Open Rails[edit]

Open Rails is an open-source freeware project launched, developed, maintained and nurtured by a team of volunteers and licensed under GPL.[22] Its project summary states the following:[23]

Open Rails is a train simulator that supports the world's largest range of digital content.
Accurate behaviour for steam, diesel and electric traction including trains with multiple locos.
Signals which correctly protect the train and permit complex timetabled operations.
Multi-user mode in which any timetabled train can be driven in person or by computer.

Key technical objectives are to be backward compatible with as well as extend all MSTS content.[24] It adds new features such as improved multiplayer and mouse controls along with a newer engine that has better graphics and more realistic physics than MSTS.[25] It is optimised to be able to take advantage of the features of newer CPUs, and can support more detailed models.

Open Rails 1.3.1 was released in 18 December 2018.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Train Simulator - PC". Retrieved January 10, 2018 – via Amazon.
  2. ^ Marchelletta, Courtney. "Fuill Product Review Microsoft Train Simulator". Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  3. ^ "Train Simulator Add-on page". Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  4. ^ Bradshaw, Lucy (January 31, 2002). "Markle Forum on Children and Media" (PDF). New York University. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 19, 2004.
  5. ^ Edge Staff (August 25, 2006). "The Top 100 PC Games of the 21st Century". Edge. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012.
  6. ^ "ELSPA Sales Awards: Silver". Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009.
  7. ^ Caoili, Eric (November 26, 2008). "ELSPA: Wii Fit, Mario Kart Reach Diamond Status In UK". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on September 18, 2017.
  8. ^ "VUD-SALES-AWARDS Januar 2003". Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. January 2003. Archived from the original on April 22, 2003. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  9. ^ Horn, Andre (January 14, 2004). "VUD-Gold-Awards 2003". GamePro Germany. Archived from the original on July 18, 2018.
  10. ^ Stuart, Keith (June 24, 2005). "EA takes the train". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 5, 2015.
  11. ^ Hilliard, Kyle (September 6, 2014). "Gears Of War's Rod Fergusson On the Franchise's Past And His Optimism For The Future". Game Informer. GameStop. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  12. ^ "Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Announces Finalists for the 5th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards" (Press release). Los Angeles: Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. February 5, 2002. Archived from the original on June 2, 2002.
  13. ^ "Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Announces Recipients of Fifth Annual Interactive Achievement Awards" (Press release). Las Vegas: Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. March 1, 2002. Archived from the original on March 6, 2002.
  14. ^ Retrieved 27. March 2017
  15. ^ "MSTS Bin - MS train simulator upgrade". Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  16. ^ "Microsoft Train Simulator Review for PC". GameFAQs. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  17. ^ "Train Simulator 2 Impressions – PC News at GameSpot". Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  18. ^ "Microsoft takes over Train Sim 2 – PC News at GameSpot". Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  19. ^ "Train Simulator 2 canceled – PC News at GameSpot". Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  20. ^ "The Little Wheel Goes in Back : Guter Tag von Leipzig!". Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  21. ^ "The Simulation Game – games TM". Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  22. ^ "Discover - Open Rails". Open Rails. Open Rails. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  23. ^ "The Open Rails Open Source Project". Black Duck : Open HUB. Open Rails. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  24. ^ "Discover - Our Mission". Open Rails. Open Rails. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  25. ^ "Learn - FAQ". Open Rails. Open Rails. Retrieved October 13, 2016. Why does my train operate differently in Open Rails?
  26. ^ "Milestones: Open Rails". Launchpad. Open Rails. Retrieved March 27, 2017.

External links[edit]