Railroad Tycoon

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Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon
Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon.jpg
Developer(s)MPS Labs
Designer(s)Sid Meier
Bruce Shelley
Composer(s)Jeff Briggs
SeriesRailroad Tycoon Edit this on Wikidata
Platform(s)MS-DOS, Amiga, Macintosh, Atari ST, FM Towns, NEC PC-9801
  • WW: 1990
Genre(s)Business simulation game

Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon is a business simulation designed by Sid Meier. The DOS version of the game was released as freeware for download in 2006.[1] The game is the first in the Railroad Tycoon series.

A port of the game for the Super NES was planned for a 1994 release, and screenshots were shown in the March 1993 issue of Nintendo Power; however the port was never released. Though no reason was officially given,[2] it may have been due to the DOS release of Transport Tycoon, and its planned release on the upcoming Playstation console.[3]


The objective of the game is to build and manage a railroad company by laying track, building stations, and buying and scheduling trains. The player acts a railway entrepreneur and may start companies in any of four geographic locales: the Western United States, Northeast United States, Great Britain, or Continental Europe. The company starts with one million dollars in capital, half equity, half a loan. The company may raise additional capital through the sale of bonds.

The player acts as a railway entrepreneur who owns and manages the business as described above and may also handle individual train movement and build additional industries. The game models supply and demand of goods and passengers as well as a miniature stock market on which players can buy and sell stock of their own or competing companies. The game also has other railroad companies attempting to put the player out of business with stock dealings and "Rate Wars".

There are four types of stations: Signal Tower, Depot, Station, and Terminal. The Signal Tower acts as a passing loop and may control movements. The rest service surrounding areas: the Depot serves its own square and the adjoining eight squares, the Station takes another ring, and the Terminal handles up to three squares away. The player can build at most 32 stations. When the player builds the first station they also build their first engine shop. Each engine shop is the manufacturing area for the player's different trains. The player can upgrade and downgrade Depots, Stations, and Terminals. Other facilities such as stores and hotels may be added.

Once the player builds a station they can build their first train (of the 32 permitted) at any engine shop. The player then can add cars to the train and send it on its way. The player can at any time change the "consist", which is the list of cars the train is to pick up at the various stations along the way. These include pure mail and passenger cars and specialized freight cars for each of the other nine types of commodity produced in the game.

The player can continue to build the track network and build stations until the player runs out of funds. The game runs for a century (1830 - 1930 and 1866 - 1966 in America and 1900 - 2000 in Europe), with accounting periods two years long. Stations built or rebuilt in a particular accounting period pay the player double freight rates for everything they purchase in that period.

Not every station buys everything offered to it. Some good producers buy nothing. There are two alternatives the player can choose between: Simple Economy (where, for example, a station serving two or more cities will buy anything) and Complex Economy (where "two cities" will buy mail, passengers, and a couple of other products; "four villages" will buy passengers and different freight products; only a station with a steel mill will buy coal; and other products have other buyer types). There are product variations over the four geographical scenarios.


Railroad Tycoon sold more than 400,000 units by September 1997.[4]

On its release in 1990 Railroad Tycoon was hailed by reviewers as one of the best games of the year.[5] In 1990 Computer Gaming World gave the game five out of five stars[6] and named it as its Game of the Year,[7] and in 1992 added it to the magazine's Hall of Fame for games that readers highly rated over time.[8] Both the PC version of Railroad Tycoon[9] and the Macintosh version were rated 5 out of 5 stars by Dragon.[10] It won the 1991 Software Publishers Association Excellence in Software Award for Best Strategy Program.[11] The editors of Strategy Plus declared it their 1990 game of the year.[12]

In 1991, PC Format named Railroad Tycoon one of the 50 best computer games ever.[13] In 1994, PC Gamer US declared it the 4th best computer game ever.[14]

Popular Culture[edit]

Railroad Tycoon was featured in G4 Icons' episode 12 "Sid Meier" which documents the history of Sid Meier with games and computers in general.


  1. ^ Sid Meier's Railroads - Downloads
  2. ^ http://www.snescentral.com/article.php?id=0830
  3. ^ http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps/573902-transport-tycoon/data
  4. ^ "Microprose Ships Conquer the Skies and Conquer the World, Two Compilations of Top-Selling, Award-Winning Simulation and Strategy Games" (Press release). Alameda, California: Microprose. September 16, 1997. Archived from the original on January 20, 1998.
  5. ^ Lockwood, Russ (December 1990). "Holiday alert: the year's best games; Accolade's Cycles, Broderbund's Galleons of Glory, Taito's Qix, MicroProse's Sword of the Samurai, Origin Systems' Ultima VI and more; Leisure Forum; product announcement". PC Sources. 1 (12): 58.
  6. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (October 1990). "Computer Strategy and Wargames: Pre-20th Century". Computer Gaming World. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  7. ^ "CGW's Game of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World. September 1990. p. 70. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  8. ^ "The CGW Poll". Computer Gaming World. April 1992. p. 48. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  9. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (January 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (165): 47–55.
  10. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (October 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (174): 57–64.
  11. ^ "Celebrating Software". Computer Gaming World. June 1991. p. 64. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  12. ^ Staff (January 1991). "Strategy Plus Awards 1990". Strategy Plus (4): 30, 31.
  13. ^ Staff (October 1991). "The 50 best games EVER!". PC Format (1): 109–111.
  14. ^ Staff (August 1994). "PC Gamer Top 40: The Best Games of All Time". PC Gamer US (3): 32–42.

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