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Train Speed and Usage of Resources


akuenzi
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Last year I had grandiose ideas of figuring out the rate of acceleration for each engine under varying loads. It took a ton of time, but I created a test map with extended constant grades at exactly 0%, 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, and 6%. I was about seeing cross-eyed after raising and lowering land to do this, but then got to running trains on it to determine rates of acceleration. Then I hit tax season at work, and that took care of that. It took a ton of time, so I only completed it for a few engines, so I probably won't go back to it. I did learn a few interesting things along the way that I thought I'd pass along. Maybe you guys knew these already, but here they are:

1. A steam engine runs out of water in approximately 83.5 cells. When the engine runs out of water, speed is reduced by 1/2, even when running downhill.

2. An engine runs out of sand as follows:

Grade..................# of Cells

0%........................Never

1%.......................71 cells

2%.......................37 cells

3%.......................24 cells

4%.......................18 cells

5%.......................15 cells

6%.......................12 cells

When an engine runs out of sand, its speed behaves as if it's on double the next percentage grade up. In other words, no sand on a 2% grade forces the speed to be the same as if the engine was on a 4% (2% x 2) grade. This is not true when the train is running downhill, in which case the lack of sand does not hinder its speed.

3. An engine runs out of oil in 198 cells.

The above seemed to be universal in the game, regardless of engine type, regardless of load weight, and regardless of whether the train was traveling either uphill or downhill. Maybe I'm the only one silly enough to actually count the number of cells between stations, but this is a way to help save cost, particularly in the early phases of the game. Not every station needs a roundhouse, a watering tower, or a sanding tower. And if you are one trying to pull up a mountain, you may need additional stations, the only purpose of which is a sanding tower, or else speed is drastically cut.

One other note -- putting the train at full throttle does not cause the engine to use up water or oil more quickly. The same number of cells above appears to apply in either case.

4. I've learned that trains do not go faster downhill than they are able to go on flat ground -- The maximum speed is the same on either.

5. After trying to count the number of cells traveled by various engines under various loads, I've learned that at maximum speed, ALL engines will cover approximately 0.4075 cells per month per mph.

So, if the maximum speed of an engine is 10 mph, it would be traveling approximately 4.075 (10 x 0.4075) cells per month. This would give some idea of how far a given train might go in a year, or to figure just how lon it will take the train to reach the destination. Of course, this calculation is impacted by a multitude of other factors, such as grade, which usually changes in each cell, and bends in the track. But on a straight stretch at constant grade, this holds true.

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On my Washington State map I had heavy grades to central Washington and to return trains took nearly a 45% grade down hill.

I looked odd having each train falling off the mountains at normal speed. I couldn't figure out how to attach parachutes to the trains. :P

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Why count cells when you can right-click on any cell and read its coordinates?

Break-down percentages seem to me to creep up as oil is consumed, so once I can afford to, I put roundhouses as frequently as sand. That keeps my engines in the upper quarter of oil.

BTW, do the speed and distance measures change on diagonal track? I know that all of the grades are softened by about the amount that a diagonal is longer than a side of a square. I wonder if the programming followed through on other calculations.

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Why count cells when you can right-click on any cell and read its coordinates?

I didn't think of that -- thanks for the tip!

Break-down percentages seem to me to creep up as oil is consumed, so once I can afford to, I put roundhouses as frequently as sand. That keeps my engines in the upper quarter of oil.

You're right -- I think the strategy guide says this: "If you're out of oil, breakdown odds triple. If oil level is one notch above empty, breakdown odds are double. At the half full level, the breakdown odds are 50 percent higher than normal."

BTW, do the speed and distance measures change on diagonal track? I know that all of the grades are softened by about the amount that a diagonal is longer than a side of a square. I wonder if the programming followed through on other calculations.

I wondered about that, too, but I don't know the answer. I did all my testing on straight stretches.

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Akuenzi, did you ever find out what "acceleration" means? Specifically, will two engines each with "average" acceleration both reach the same mph in the same time/distance, or will each reach the same fraction of its own top speed?

When campaign maps offer "increased speed" as an option, I tend to ignore it on the grounds that without an equal increase in acceleration, a 20% faster (theoretical top speed) train does not mean a 20% quicker journey, but am I wrong?

regards, Richard

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Akuenzi, did you ever find out what "acceleration" means? Specifically, will two engines each with "average" acceleration both reach the same mph in the same time/distance, or will each reach the same fraction of its own top speed?

Hi Richard! I wish I had an answer for you, but don't. I only tested about ten engines before commitments of work took my attention away... and it sure was a tedious process anyway. My guess would be that it's the latter suggestion you make, that it's the same 'fraction' of top speed at a given time/distance. There might be varying definitions of what 'average' means to the game, too. I'd have to go look at some of the engine tables folks have put together to see if there is any specific 'number' on there that represents 'average' acceleration, or if it is a range.

When campaign maps offer "increased speed" as an option, I tend to ignore it on the grounds that without an equal increase in acceleration, a 20% faster (theoretical top speed) train does not mean a 20% quicker journey, but am I wrong?

regards, Richard

I think you make a good point. The 20% increase in total speed might make a small difference, but 20% increased acceleration would likely offer much more 'bang for the buck.' The speed factor would only kick in if you have a long stretch of straight track at a constant grade with no (or few) other trains on it to get in the way. One thing I noticed in my testing was that it sometimes took a very LONG time for certain engines to reach their top speed, sometimes 70-80 cells. In reality, for how most of us likely play the game, we probably don't have that many stations this far apart where increased speed would be a factor.

Thanks for the tip on this -- I think I'll start being more focused on acceleration over speed. :)

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A train speed increase makes all the difference in how you lay your track,

Me personally I have NO problem bulldozing industries to get straight and long tracks, I also tend to try to put the majority of my bends close together if I can and leave longer stretches untouched.

But it also depends on the map, sometimes the lay of the land just doesn't allow for straighter tracks, but most do if your smart about it.

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what do you mean?

If disconnected track-building is allowed, then little track segments laid crosswise can level out the ground in front of a line that one is extending. Track at various angles can produce different grades. After some practice, one can gain at least partial control over the elevations of most vertices along a planned construction path. The most extreme sculpting (when I have loads of money to throw around) digs so deeply through mountain ranges that I can no longer see some segments of track within the cuts. I call these cuts "tunnels".

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