Train simulator games (a.k.a. Train Sims) are a form of video game – but they differ from your normal Grand Theft Auto or Fortnite in several ways.

Train Sims are yesterday’s news.

The most popular Train Sim out there – Train Simulator 2019 – is now about 10 years old. That is absolutely archaic as games go. The graphics engine for TS2019 came out in 2007. The company that makes and sells TS2019 has a newer game based on a more modern game software engine but it doesn’t have as many resources available, needs very powerful hardware to run, and just isn’t as popular. The original Microsoft Train Simulator is now close to 20 years old and some folks still play and support it. Go figure.

Train Sims are rather slow when it comes to action.

Driving a train is not like driving a race car. Nor is it a high-intensity experience like Fortnite or Call of Duty. The main objects are smooth driving, safety and keeping on schedule. This makes a Train Sim like a flight sim I suppose – long periods of sheer boredom, punctuated by moments of stark terror. When your major achievement is not colliding with another train, I can see how this type of action doesn’t appeal to a large segment of the population.

It’s not the cost of the game, it’s the add-ons that add up.

In addition to the basic game, a Train Sim needs additional assets – like a route to run your train on, locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars and so on. Depending on your geographical and historical preferences, there are many items to choose from. Personally, I like the variety and challenge of UK routes and locomotives. Once you decide on the game you like, you can invest far more in these add-ons. The picture above shows a pre-1928 steam locomotive on the Settle to Carlisle route.

The newer the Train Sim, the more hardware you need to run it.

My Windows desktop is getting on six years old now, but it still runs the older Train Sim as well as ever. It is still good for other uses too, I can hardly justify an upgrade of $1000 or so, plus the hassle of reinstalling everything – just to run a newer game.

And to make thigs worse if you get a new game, all the routes and equipment for the old one won’t work. So you are back to square one.

Newer Sims are more realistic.

It would seem a no-brainer to just keep on using the older game, except that newer ones look much better graphically. Train Sim World is almost photo-realistic in its graphics. The older Train Simulator looks OK, but there’s really no comparison between the two. Or is there?

Enter the enhancement packs.

Recently two companies who provide enhancement packs for the old Train Simulator 2019 game have introduced some add-ons that make quite a difference in look and feel. These are RW Enhancer and the Armstrong Powerhouse Sky and Weather Pack. Available at very reasonable cost, these packs improve the light and shadow so the trains look better, and give much-improved sky and clouds in the background. They don’t quite get the player to the latest graphical standards but the old game is quite a lot better looking. The best effect is when the two packages work together.

Bottom Line.

I have been very happy with these enhancements to the plain vanilla Train Simulator 2019 game. They make it possible to enjoy improved graphics without buying more hardware or losing my investment in routes and equipment. I’m happy.

1 Comment
  1. Bill Houle 8 months ago

    Hi Ray, this blog really caught my eye.I belong to a group here in Barry’s Bay that are trying to negotiate a lease for the old train station in town with an eye to creating a railroad/ steam museaum.. Doscussions have involved how to make it interesting for kids using new technology rather just hanging a few artifacts on the walls. We had hoped the National Film Board might have some old footage we could incorporate but now you have me thinking in this direction as well. It’s soon to be in the hands of town council so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.
    Cheers Bill

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