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Setting Up Train Routes


akuenzi
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I have a couple questions on setting up train routes. Maybe I tend to over-think things like this, but I’d be curious to know how others approach these things.

1. How do you evaluate where to lay your first track?

I understand that a scenario may limit you if you can’t have any track disconnected from your original track, but assuming you have freedom to lay track where ever you choose, how do you make that choice?For me, I think I usually just look for the largest cities I can find, and build something between them, starting with passengers and mail.I’m not sure that’s the best answer, though.

2. Are you able to tell in advance how much revenue a particular line will generate, so as to know how it will impact your rail business?

This question might stem from my occupation as a CPA, where I work with businesses all the time on these kinds of questions.Nobody just goes out and does ‘something’ to try to turn a buck, not the consistently successful ones anyway.There is usually a good deal of analysis in the decision making process to see if it’s something that will have a payoff.Is there any way to do this in Railroad Tycoon?Maybe for some on here that would take the fun out of it.For me, trying to figure that out would only enhance the fun… as silly as that may sound.I haven’t yet figured out how to go about it, but I’ve been mulling it over in my mind, maybe to use a separate spreadsheet or something to help me approximate revenue.

3. Are there any recommended strategies to follow for backhauls?

When I haul cattle to the meat packing plant, I know it’s also good to pick up the food, and then haul it right back to a town that is close to where I got the cattle.It’s efficient use of the track and trains, though it often doesn’t work out this way.Invariably the town is too far away, or they aren’t yet accepting food.

How often do you guys have to run empty? Is that a hallmark of a poor route to set up in the first place?

Having just played a map where there was little passenger traffic, and a whole lot of freight over long distances, I was forced to confront this early on, and it was tough! It seemed like a bunch of my trains had to run empty whether I liked it or not. There was a circuit I tried setting up later in the game, where I could take sugar to the bakery, then run empty a short distance to a gravel pit, taking it to the cement plant, then empty again for a short distance to get some wool, taking it to where it needed to go… I wanted to take the resulting goods and haul them to a town that was close to where I got the initial sugar, but the town wasn't large enough to accept goods yet.

4. How do you determine how far to take a particular cargo?

Passengers can be delivered to a town that is ten squares away, or they can be delivered to a town clear on the other side of the board... or some place in between. Of course, going further takes more time, and you do get more revenue for it, but how does a person determine which is best? The same goes for freight, though some indication is given in the game with 'demand' levels. Maybe some of it depends on what you're able to haul back the other way, or the goals of a particular scenario, and I understand that. But is there anything else you guys consider as part of the decision, or do you just lay the track, and let the chips fall where they may?

Maybe I AM over-thinking things. :) Just want to think like a true tycoon so as to squeeze out the most profit possible at any given time.

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There are various strategies one can pursue depending on available capital etc. I tend to look for two cities (or large towns) about 100 squares apart and then connect them. If I anticipate a wanting a map-crossing mainline later in the game, then I will orient my first track to build whatever part of it that that route would eventually use.

Backhauls can actually influence hauls. Even for the better non-pax/mail cargoes, distance is close to being a wash. Therefore, I aim to keep my trains loaded, even hauling triangles (and higher numbered polygons) where distance is only a secondary criterion. For short-haul heavy freights like iron and coal, distance costs more than it pays, so I aim as short as possible.

Some of my trains haul pax/mail from big cities to small towns and then back-haul fast freight (like food) to the big city, sometimes hauling something like cattle a modest distance in between. This helps minimal towns to "keep up" with big cities on asymmetrical maps like Australia or the early US where most of the population is on one coast.

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Backhauls can actually influence hauls. Even for the better non-pax/mail cargoes, distance is close to being a wash. Therefore, I aim to keep my trains loaded, even hauling triangles (and higher numbered polygons) where distance is only a secondary criterion. For short-haul heavy freights like iron and coal, distance costs more than it pays, so I aim as short as possible.

Interesting. I remember reading some of your comments in another post indicating this. When you say the distance is close to being a wash, are you meaning that you receive just as much profit if you can deliver the grain to the bakery that is 3 squares away, versus to the bakery that is 100 squares away? This is exactly part of the question I'm asking in this post. I'm not doubting you, but how did you figure this out? Does your cost include only the train cost, or are you factoring in a component of company overhead for the additional time the train is moving?

In the strategy guide, I looked through the 'Cargo Demand Table' (Table 2-1). I'm going to have to pay more attention to this in the future, as it's obvious some cargo is far more valuable than others. I knew that passengers were valuable cargo, but I didn't remember that there was so much variation in the freight. Milk has a base price of $60,000, which puts them on par with passengers, whereas coal's base price is $30,000. This table also shows the 'days to deliver.' It's my understanding that this is only to pick the cargo up, is this correct? That seems to be what the strategy guide says, but I wonder if that's accurate. Does the number of days include hauling time, and the only way to get more would be to put up a specialty building (warehouse, post office, etc.)? Then there is a column for 'ship distance,' which they say is a modifier for how far the cargo is hauled. Passengers has a 0.37 modifier and mail has a 0.47 modifier. The rest are all 0.1 or 0.2. It says the higher the modifier, the more we receive for hauling cargo across longer distances.

Above you reference 'better non-pax/mail cargoes.' Maybe the 'better' ones are those that have the 0.2 modifier. The 'short-haul heavy freights' you referred to, iron and coal, only have a 0.1 modifier. So, it appears that more revenue IS received by hauling it a greater distance, but in your experience, this is a wash? Or maybe it's just not worth it enough to do it, and maybe there are better opportunities elsewhere? I wonder how far the train has to go in order for the modifier to kick in. I also wonder if the modifier is a 'fixed amount' once a minimum distance has been hauled. Maybe that's where you're finding that it's a wash to haul certain things extra long distances.

Has anyone on here ever figured out the formula for the amount of revenue received upon delivery? The strategy guide gives the things that impact revenue, but is silent on significant parts of the calculation.

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Here's an idea I've used on several maps, for example a `tweaked version` of the Midwest map, starting in 1830, where I've altered population to a more realistic lvl, and there are hubs like Chicago and Detroit far apart(albeit small hubs at that time), with fledgling villages with great potential in between. To help the `villages` grow, I supply a limited passanger and mail service.

Lets say we have villages a-b-c-d-then Chicago. Chicago is the only one to actually accept pax and mail. So start a train at a) red light -one pax car. Move on to b) yellow flag , yellow light, add another pax car, c) yellow flag, yellow light three pax cars, d) yellow flag, yellow light, four pax cars, Chicago unload all , get paid, reload one or two pax to village a). I also do the same procedure for mail.

This allows 2 things:- 1) The trains don't wait forever at each station, but will arrive with at least 2 full pax/mail cars to Chicago, with full distance payment.

2) It allows pax/mail and cargo to be kept seperate, which allows a better train selection, plus generally helps stop cargo intended for one train being picked up by another (though of course this can still happen).

It also helps villages with no appropriate industry to grow, when you'd have no otherwise reason to deliver/collect there. You don't get a fantastic income from these trains, but they more than pay their way, and their aim is to provide a service and help the fledling settlements grow to towns.

As for cargo, (if using expert lvl), you get virtually nothing for hauling e.g. food to a village, compared to somewhere that demands it (even with a demand lvl of only 1). So If I haven't anywhere else to deliver food to (let's say Chicago and Detroit are being well supplied, and I own all the industries involved), then hauling food to a fledling Indianapolis isn't really worth it. Better to start supplying a goods chain instead.

As for back hauls, to go back to my first example. I'd purposefully look to supply industries that `fitted` my line. Say village c) had grain nearby and a) had a bakery (this would be ideal). Then the backhaul from Chicago to c) could be a single pax car or even empty--enough money would be made on the first two stages of the run. I would rarely run more than 3 cars of cargo on the early trains, :- if grain was being left in the fields, I'd add a duplicate train.

If a) had the grain, and d) the bakery, the run is less lucrative, but the backhaul would still be a single pax or mail car (the route would still make money, just less).

If Chicago had the bakery, and there was nowhere that wanted food, I'd forget all about hauling grain in my earlier plans, and hopefully have a goods chain or cattle chain , and plan accordingly.

Of course, if you have multiple towns, then you can make all your early money hauling pax/mail, with a few choice cargo lines, but I find that too easy (unless the map is all about beating up on ai tycoons and ai companies ;))

A few ideas, hope they're of some use...I kept wanting to draw diagrams to illustrate :laugh: , but maybe you can follow the rambling narration..

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When you say the distance is close to being a wash, are you meaning that you receive just as much profit if you can deliver the grain to the bakery that is 3 squares away, versus to the bakery that is 100 squares away?

No, I mean that the profit margin doesn't seem to grow much. It costs more and takes more time to haul long distance, and the payoff is just enough larger to make up for it. I could do just as well with two hauls each half as long. If I am really short of loads, then I might run long just to increase business, but usually pax and mail are the only critically short loads (and they also benefit from long distance).

I'm not doubting you, but how did you figure this out?

I must admit that I haven't worked up data into a rigorous proof. What I have is a mental note from games years ago telling myself that the "0.1" cargoes should be hauled as short as possible, and the "0.2" cargoes can be hauled wherever is most convenient.

Does your cost include only the train cost, or are you factoring in a component of company overhead for the additional time the train is moving?

No factors, just annual profits on different trains hauling the same kinds of cargo different distances. With .2 loads, it appeared that a few medium length hauls made as much per year as one long haul. With .1 cargo (like aluminum), hauling long made less money (and could even lose money).

Then there is a column for 'ship distance,' which they say is a modifier for how far the cargo is hauled. Passengers has a 0.37 modifier and mail has a 0.47 modifier. The rest are all 0.1 or 0.2. It says the higher the modifier, the more we receive for hauling cargo across longer distances. Above you reference 'better non-pax/mail cargoes.' Maybe the 'better' ones are those that have the 0.2 modifier.

Yup, you got it. If it has a 0.1, then keep it short or only ship it if vital for something else that's very profitable.

The 'short-haul heavy freights' you referred to, iron and coal, only have a 0.1 modifier. So, it appears that more revenue IS received by hauling it a greater distance, but in your experience, this is a wash?

No, the short-haul freights become losers at great distances. It's the 0.2 distance freights that seem to be balanced.

Note: The tipping point might vary by engine economics. If you put coal behind a Eurostar, then it might lose money at every distance (and lose it fast).

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Thanks for your patience and explanations, guys. I ran a bunch of tests on this today (and spent way too much time when I probably should have been working :)) to see if I could increase my understanding further as to how revenue is calculated... and gained a new appreciation as to just how complex it is. If we ever do have an 'Open Railroad Tycoon,' we'll need to know how it's calculated, or else make something up that is close. But for purposes of game play, the things you guys provided above will suffice.

I'll start another thread to share what I found in my tests, if anyone wants to know.

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In playing with revenue calculations this evening, I reviewed one of the FAQ's on RRT2 that I found on the internet. It was prepared by C. Gorman, and he makes some statements in his FAQ that the track arrangement itself has an impact on cargo (passengers at least) available to haul. He showed several sample stations on a map in various track arrangements. The first had only simple connections between the stations. They weren't connected as a unit. In other words, Station A was connected to Station B, Station C was connected to Station D, and so forth. The second track arrangement had all of his stations connected. In other words, A was still connected to B, but it also had another track that linked it up with C and D. The last track arrangement also showed the stations linked together, only this time he made the distances between each as short as possible (ie, more efficient).

The basic assertion I gathered was this: More Track = More Destination Choices = More Passengers Available to Transport = More Profits

He had some data from several tests he'd done in the program, though it wasn't in detail. As such, I'm not sure just where his trains were going, whether they were visiting all stations or just two of them apiece.

Do any of you have any comments on this? I likely did a very butchered up job of explaining it above, but perhaps you've seen his guide before. If not, this is a link to it: http://www.gamefaqs....n-ii/faqs/17253 His comments on track arrangement begin in section 2.3. Is it really that simple, adding more track and connecting more stations to add to one's rail profits?

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In playing with revenue calculations this evening, I reviewed one of the FAQ's on RRT2 that I found on the internet. It was prepared by C. Gorman, and he makes some statements in his FAQ that the track arrangement itself has an impact on cargo (passengers at least) available to haul. He showed several sample stations on a map in various track arrangements. The first had only simple connections between the stations. They weren't connected as a unit. In other words, Station A was connected to Station B, Station C was connected to Station D, and so forth. The second track arrangement had all of his stations connected. In other words, A was still connected to B, but it also had another track that linked it up with C and D. The last track arrangement also showed the stations linked together, only this time he made the distances between each as short as possible (ie, more efficient).

The basic assertion I gathered was this: More Track = More Destination Choices = More Passengers Available to Transport = More Profits

He had some data from several tests he'd done in the program, though it wasn't in detail. As such, I'm not sure just where his trains were going, whether they were visiting all stations or just two of them.

Do any of you have any comments on this? I likely did a very butchered up job of explaining it above, but perhaps you've seen his guide before. If not, this is a link to it: http://www.gamefaqs....n-ii/faqs/17253 His comments on track arrangement begin in section 2.3. Is it really that simple, adding more track and connecting more stations to add to one's rail profits?

I don't have any scientific facts to back this up....it is only my gut feeling based on 13 years and thousands of hours playing this game.

I've never seen reason to believe that more connections to a given station increases passenger traffic. In fact, if I had to choose between increasing and decreasing, I would lean toward decreasing....but in reality I think it does neither. I say I would lean toward decreasing only because I've run countless scenarios where, for example, I start with one connection from Cleveland (to Pittsburgh) and clearly have way too much passenger traffic to send to Pittsburgh without destroying the demand value there. So ASAP I connect to Erie, Columbus, Detroit, etc and pretty soon find myself with once busy trains waiting for cargo. Now, clearly there are always other factors in play in these scenarios, so the extra connections are probably not the focus either way.

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I agree. In RRT3, maybe a greater choice of connected destinations would increase passenger numbers. In RRT2 I cannot believe it makes any difference at all.

Each house generates "0.5 passengers per year". (It can be more or less than this according, amoung other things, to what part of what century one is playing in, but lets say that 0.5 it is.)

Editing a map once, I placed 4 houses to make a town, and noticed that I always had four passemgers turn up at the station together. Which leads me to suspect a house always supplies a would-be passenger exactly 24 months after the last time. For houses generated randomly when a game starts, I guess each house's initial "year-month" is also determined randomly. Prosperity reduces the interval and recession lengthens it. When the economy changes you get "catch-up". ... Richard

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Regarding the initial questions, I've only ever played single player, only played campaign maps, and played much more vanilla RRT2 than platinum (TSC). I like micro-managing trains and taking a long time over a game (once I'm several years into a map then play a single year, save, eat a meal, open e-mail/browse websites/watch TV/listen to music, go to bed, come back next day). On (3) this means I seldom keep a loco on the same route for long. Rather, whenever a train unloads, I ask "what do I most need done next?" So if I've just unloaded grain (for the bakery), there are passengers waiting and some mail about to rot, and the incoming passenger/mail train is 2 months away, then I'll put the grain loco onto the passenger/mail run and let the passenger loco when it arrives take the food.

Turning a train round blocks both tracks (the effect is worse in TSC), so if one train arrives from the east and one from the west (at about the same time) then I try to have each continue the way it was going (i.e. each takes the other's back-haul).

Then I like to deliver where demand is high. Ideally this means one grain farm delivering to two bakeries alternately (unless of course the map is about making industry profits) which distribute their food to about four not-too-far-away towns/cities in rotation.

So assuming the farm/mine at the start of the supply chain is in the country somewhere, then the route segment to go collect from it will be running light engine. If ever the same engine gets back to the same farm it will typically have done six to eight segments and I don't mind if one even of the city-to-city segments had to be done load-less: but if there's mail waiting I'll always take that seeing how quickly it "rots".

On a small network when you start then "overshoot" is good, i.e. collect from the source in between two towns. That is, if "a" is logging camp (switching example for variety), B the town with lumber mill and C another town, then B-a-C is a better network than a-B-C.

On (1) the map objectives (particularly on campaign maps) largely determine the choice of where to start but if they don't then my advice is to think strategically, that is put your first connection somewhere you have scope to expand. In the 19th Century I look not for the largest close-together cities but for good sized ones (or 6/7-house towns) a fair distance apart (up to 15 months' travel time), that are easy to connect. When engines are cheap and track is never electrified then stations (and my first roundhouse in about year 2!) are a significant investment so I look for maximum return per station, rather than per mile, or per train.

(Repeat: go for easy connections: strike out across the plains first, don't struggle up mountains nor across too many rivers.)

regards, Richard

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Regarding the initial questions, I've only ever played single player, only played campaign maps, and played much more vanilla RRT2 than platinum (TSC). I like micro-managing trains and taking a long time over a game (once I'm several years into a map then play a single year, save, eat a meal, open e-mail/browse websites/watch TV/listen to music, go to bed, come back next day). On (3) this means I seldom keep a loco on the same route for long. Rather, whenever a train unloads, I ask "what do I most need done next?" So if I've just unloaded grain (for the bakery), there are passengers waiting and some mail about to rot, and the incoming passenger/mail train is 2 months away, then I'll put the grain loco onto the passenger/mail run and let the passenger loco when it arrives take the food.

Turning a train round blocks both tracks (the effect is worse in TSC), so if one train arrives from the east and one from the west (at about the same time) then I try to have each continue the way it was going (i.e. each takes the other's back-haul).

Then I like to deliver where demand is high. Ideally this means one grain farm delivering to two bakeries alternately (unless of course the map is about making industry profits) which distribute their food to about four not-too-far-away towns/cities in rotation.

So assuming the farm/mine at the start of the supply chain is in the country somewhere, then the route segment to go collect from it will be running light engine. If ever the same engine gets back to the same farm it will typically have done six to eight segments and I don't mind if one even of the city-to-city segments had to be done load-less: but if there's mail waiting I'll always take that seeing how quickly it "rots".

On a small network when you start then "overshoot" is good, i.e. collect from the source in between two towns. That is, if "a" is logging camp (switching example for variety), B the town with lumber mill and C another town, then B-a-C is a better network than a-B-C.

On (1) the map objectives (particularly on campaign maps) largely determine the choice of where to start but if they don't then my advice is to think strategically, that is put your first connection somewhere you have scope to expand. In the 19th Century I look not for the largest close-together cities but for good sized ones (or 6/7-house towns) a fair distance apart (up to 15 months' travel time), that are easy to connect. When engines are cheap and track is never electrified then stations (and my first roundhouse in about year 2!) are a significant investment so I look for maximum return per station, rather than per mile, or per train.

(Repeat: go for easy connections: strike out across the plains first, don't struggle up mountains nor across too many rivers.)

regards, Richard

:) I have often wondered if I was the only one who played this way.

With the goal of maximizing profits in mind, I have never found an acceptable way to set up initial train routes and just leave them that way. As you say, as games mature there is more often than not a better paying payload/destination combination available upon unloading than the one on the same previously assigned schedule. So I, too, have for years reassessed both consist and next destination upon each stop.

Problem is, of course, that that practice becomes so tedious that games eventually become a lot of work....and more work than fun. So time and time again I have started anew - vowing to set up well-thought-out routes and leave them alone. And time and time again I can't help myself but to eventually begin to meddle....because it's unacceptable to watch all that profit opportunity go un-tapped.

RRT3 no doubt set out to remedy this issue with the consist manager....an idea that I like and would love to see in RRTII. Problem is - RRT3 threw the baby out with the bathwater with its new economy....making it just a boring connect the dots and watch exercise.

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Regarding the initial questions, I've only ever played single player, only played campaign maps, and played much more vanilla RRT2 than platinum (TSC). I like micro-managing trains and taking a long time over a game (once I'm several years into a map then play a single year, save, eat a meal, open e-mail/browse websites/watch TV/listen to music, go to bed, come back next day). On (3) this means I seldom keep a loco on the same route for long. Rather, whenever a train unloads, I ask "what do I most need done next?" So if I've just unloaded grain (for the bakery), there are passengers waiting and some mail about to rot, and the incoming passenger/mail train is 2 months away, then I'll put the grain loco onto the passenger/mail run and let the passenger loco when it arrives take the food.

I, too, generally play a game over a long period of time (ie, playing a 'year' here and there when I have time interspersed with the other activities of life - playing with the kids, work, chasing the wife, etc. ;)). Sometimes I think the 'pause' button is my favorite feature of the entire game! However, I don't think I have the patience to do the micromanaging that you're talking about. I could certainly learn from it, though, as it might help me avoid some of the later game doldrums, when I wonder why one profitable routes struggle.

On a small network when you start then "overshoot" is good, i.e. collect from the source in between two towns. That is, if "a" is logging camp (switching example for variety), B the town with lumber mill and C another town, then B-a-C is a better network than a-B-C.

Thanks so much for the tips! I couldn't quite follow you on this one, though. Begging your patience, could you please elaborate? Maybe I'm just a simpleton about this, but my linear thought process goes like this: Take logs (a) to lumber mill (B), then take lumber (B) to town ( C), then pick up passengers/mail in town ( C) and backhaul them to (B), then run empty back to logging camp (a). You're saying to start with the town with the lumber mill (B), drive out to the logging camp (a), and then drive all the way to town ( C), which doesn't have the lumber mill? What do you mean by "overshoot?"

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RRT3 no doubt set out to remedy this issue with the consist manager....an idea that I like and would love to see in RRTII.

Aha! So there's an idea as to your vision for what should be included with an 'Open' RRT2... assuming it one day gets off the ground? :)

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Aha! So there's an idea as to your vision for what should be included with an 'Open' RRT2... assuming it one day gets off the ground? :)

Indeed....but I know that adding that feature would be far more than a "tweak" and likely beyond the realm of probable achievement with a mod to existing code.

If I were writing a new game from scratch, I would produce a RRTII/RRT3 hybrid....using RRTII's economy and RRT3's graphics and consist manager. Tweaked here and there, of course, as there is always room for improvement around the edges. For example, my game would have no crashes or breakdowns - because what do they add to the game outside of momentary grief?

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For example, my game would have no crashes or breakdowns - because what do they add to the game outside of momentary grief?

There's already a NOCRASH command line parameter for starting the game. Using it suppresses breakdowns and crashes.

I agree about eliminating crashes. Besides the game-killing suppression of all passengers for a couple years, the BOOM coming out of my sound system's subwoofer is hard on my nerves.

However, breakdowns reflect an investment (or lack thereof) in engine reliability. Buying the most reliable engines and replacing them periodically costs money. Breakdowns cost money. If you take away breakdowns, then you take away part of that game balance. Therefore, I would prefer to better calibrate the breakdown chances and give players more ways to pay for better reliability. See my US History scenario for some of the 20th century track improvements that players can buy.

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Akuenzi, by "overshoot" I meant that, (for example) having taken logs WEST from camp to mill, I'd look to deliver the resulting lumber somewhere EAST of the starting point...Richard

Ah, now I understand! You have to take it a little slower with me. I'm just an American. :)

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