First Train Route
Let’s start with setting up a train route. We are doing thing because trains are probably the most interesting and rewarding type of transport in OpenTTD, making them the main focus of most OpenTTD players, including myself. For example, whilst setting up a road-based transportation system might be much more simple, trains are faster and have a higher capacity, despite being more expensive and requiring much more planning – and the planning is most of the fun! Also, if we get to a point where we feel comfortable with setting up a train network, we will be easily able to set up any other type with ease.
Now, there are several types of cargo and industry chains in OpenTTD, and the simplest and most profitable one involves transporting coal from Coal Mines to Power Stations, so we will start with one of these.
Locating your route
You can either scroll around the map until you find a Coal Mine (the building will look similar to the one shown above) and a Power Station in close proximity, or you can click on the Industry button to bring up a list of industries (as shown to the right). If you do the latter, you can sort the industries by Type to group them by their type of industry or by Production to sort them by their total amount produced in the last month. I would recommend sorting them by Production from highest to lowest and then manually clicking through the Coal Mines with a decent amount of production to find one near a Power Station.
However, it doesn’t really matter too much about how far apart the Coal Mine and Power Station are right now, but the further we transport cargo, the more income we generate, so we shouldn’t pick ones that are too close either.
Building train stations
Once we’ve found a Coal Mine that we like, we need to open the Railway Construction tool-bar and click on the Build railroad station button, making the station building window will appear. We can start off by setting the Number of tracks to one, and the Platform length to three (as shown above). Each square will fit two carriages, so by choosing a Platform length of three, we can fit a train that is one engine and five carriages long at the station. Also, we can turn on Coverage are highlight to see what can be serviced in the station area before we decide where to place it.
Now all we have to do is place a station next to the Coal Mine and a station next to the Power Station in an orientation that would make it easy to connect tracks between both (as shown in the above image). The stations must be placed on flat ground that is clear of obstacles, except trees. If you are having trouble finding ground flat and clear of obstacles, try the other orientation for the station, or a little further away from the coal mine: but not too far, otherwise you won’t be able to pick coal up!
Connecting train stations
Now we need to build the tracks between the stations. To do this, all we have to do is click the Autorail button on the Railway Construction tool-bar, like shown in the above image, and drag in a straight line from one of the stations towards the other to lay down a track. We simply need to keep adding connecting sections until we reach the other station, but if we make a mistake along the way, we can use the demolish tool to remove parts of the track and get a small refund.
Adding a train
Once that’s done, we need to buy some trains, but first, we need to build a train depot. We just need to click the Build train depot button on the Railway Construction tool-bar, and a new window will open giving us a choice of orientations. Choose an orientation and place the depot so that the front entrance is facing onto some track, as shown in the image above. Connecting rails will automatically be added so that trains can enter and leave the depot, but if for some reason they fail to be placed correctly, we can just click the Autorail button again and place the tracks ourselves.
Now, if we click on the depot, the Train Depot window will appear, showing that there are currently no trains present. Click on the New Vehicles button at the bottom of the depot window, and the New Rail Vehicles window will appear with a list of all the vehicles currently available. Click on a engine from the top of the list – there should be a Kirby Paul Tank (Steam), a Chaney ‘Jubilee’ (Steam), and a Ginzu ‘A4’ (Steam) if we’re on the temperate map in the 1950s. For now, have a quick look at their main stats – Weight, Speed, Power, and Max. Reliability. To make things simple in our first game, we can pick an engine based on their Max. Reliability. Once we’ve made a decision on which one is best, click on Buy Vehicle and a Train window will open with Train 1 as the title. Now, we need to scroll down in the New Rail Vehicles window and buy five Coal Trucks as well. These will automatically attach to the engine we just bought and our train is now complete!
All that’s left to do for this most basic guide is to give Train1 some orders and send it on its way. Firstly, we need to click on the Orders button in the Train window, then click on Go To, and then click on the station next to the Coal Mine. Next, we need to click on Go To again and then click on the station next to the Power Station. Once we’ve done that, the orders list should show “1: Go to station [far end]”, “2: Go to station [far end]”, and “–End of Orders–“.
Now, to make sure that the train stays at the station by the Coal Mine until it is completely full, we need to click on the name of the Coal Mine station in the orders list, and then click the Full load any cargo button. It should now say “1: Go to station (Full load any cargo) [far end]” instead, like shown above. Finally, to get the train going, we just need to click the Stopped button at the bottom of the Train window and then we can watch as it travels from station to station making us money for a while.