Train Simulators Revisited

A few months ago I wrote a post on the two most popular Train Simulators out there – Train Simulator 2016 and Trainz: A New Era. At the time I wrote that I would revisit the issue after a bit more experience with T:ANE. It had just been released at the time.

Having now played around with both games – and enjoyed them both – I conclude that which one you like better is a function of what your goals are in Train Simulation:

Just Want to Drive a Train?

No question your choice should be Train Simulator 2016.


Although TS 2016 makes use of an outdated graphics engine and relatively ancient 3D technology, it still looks great. Dovetail Games – the developer – has really pushed the envelope to deliver a smooth running, good looking product. As well a number of third party companies have made some wonderful models of old British steam and heritage rolling stock, as well as the sound packs to go with them. TS 2016 does its best work on British routes – the North American ones don’t have the variety of rolling stock, and most of the routes are mountain passes where you spend a lot of time grinding uphill and braking hard on the downhill sections. However the British locos are outstanding in their variety and quirkiness – from 1898 steam to modern diesels – and many of the British routes are spectacular. The control display is particularly well done, and you can make up your own trains. You do end up spending a lot of cash for additional content, but it’s often on sale.

Route building itself in TS 2016 is very difficult and complicated so:

If You’re More Interested in Building a Railroad Itself

You’ll want to look into Trainz: A New Era.


T:ANE had had its growing pains. The initial release was quite buggy and unstable, and – unless you have a powerful enough desktop unit – rather a pig to run. The latest SP1 upgrade has fixed a lot of that although you cannot run at the highest quality unless you have a top of the line processor, scads of RAM and a massive graphics card like an Nvidia GTX 980 (I don’t.)

T:ANE has wonderfully simple tools to build a route though – either a model railroad or a simulation of real life. You can easily lay track, design shunting yards, put in mountains and lakes, build tunnels and bridges. It all starts with a simple grid on a board – and you take it from there.

T:ANE does have a more modern graphics engine and 3D technology but it has a bit to go to match the smoothness and good looks of TS 2016. You can get special downloadable content for T:ANE but there’s also a lot of free trains and scenery assets available for download – some good, some not so good. Some of the older free trains are pretty ugly.

T:ANE has a nicer simple mode for driving trains that is quite similar to the electric transformer you’ll see on a model railroad.

I have a lot more to learn before I can be a proficient route builder, but I am a fairly experienced locomotive engineer (digitally at least) so right now I do better with TS 2016. T:ANE does have its charms though.

Both sims are available on Steam – the online game library – so in my books that is the way to go if you are interested.

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