Aim - this page describes the process of installing an initial setup of Open Rails.

"Stand-alone" Open Rails Installation

The process followed on this page will assume that the demonstration Zig Zag Railway Route is being installed to be used with Open Rails (OR) railway simulator. This process assumes that MicroSoft Train Simulator (MSTS) is not installed.

Note: No responsibility is accepted for any damage done to your computer. This installation process is to be followed at your own risk.

It should also be noted that the operation of other routes, following these instructions, may or may not be succsessful, as they may be missing key MSTS files necessary for the Route or Rolling Stocks correct operation.

It is highly recommended that you follow the KISS (Keep it simple St....) method of installing software. This method suggests that you only do a single installation of software, or a small number of steps before you test what you have done. This will make it easier to test your progress and ensure you don't have too many issues to "fault find". Run the "tests" described at various points below to ensure that all is well.

Base Software Required

Open Rails Program Install

Test Open Rails Program Install

Installing Open Rails Content

Test Open Rails with Train Content

Expanding your "World"

Open Rails Command Keys

If you would like to provide any feedback in regard to these instructions, please contact me through the contact page.

Base Software Required

This software must be installed on your computer first. Check and install software as required.

Step 1 - Download and install DirectX 9c or higher.

Step 2 - Download and install NET Framework 3.5 SP 1

Step 3 - Download and install XNA Framework 3.1


Open Rails Program Installation

Note: You will need to create an appropriate folder structure to hold the Open Rails Program and relevant content installs. It is recommended that the Open Rails program is installed in a folder called C:\Open Rails Train Simulator\OR Program. (Where C: is the name of the drive that you wish to install OR on.) Individual Routes can be installed as sub folders under this folder or into separate folder structures. The Zig Zag route will install into its own folder.

Step 4 - Download the latest stable version of Open Rails - "Ready to Run" Program.

Step 5 - Run the install file downloaded, and install the program into the Open Rails Train Simulator\OR Program folder.


Test Open Rails Program Install

Step 6 - Create a desktop start icon to the file "Menu" in the Open Rails Train Simulator\OR program folder.

Step 7 - Run Open Rails, you should get the Open Rails Menu screen up. Next step is to start adding Train Content, see Step 8 below.


Installing Open Rails Content

Step 8 - Download and install Zig Zag Railway. This route is fully independent of MSTS, and has all the stock included in the install. This install program automatically installs the Zig Zag route into the C:\Open Rails Train Simulator - ZZ folder.

Note: If desired the CTN Test Route can also be installed at a later stage to test the installation.

Remember - If installing other downloaded routes, make sure that they have all the necessary files included. Some routes relied on MSTS being installed, so if MSTS is not installed error messages may appear about missing files.

Step 9 - Once the content is installed it will be necessary to provide a link in Open Rails to the install folder of the content. To do this run Open Rails, and select the 'Options' button on the start screen. Select the 'Content' TAB. Click on the 'Add' button, and browse to and select the C:\Open Rails Train Simulator - ZZ folder, and click ok. This should then add the route to the Content screen


Test Open Rails with Train Content

Step 10 - Run Open Rails Train Simulator. On the start screen check that the 'Installation profile:' box is showing 'Open Rails Train Simulator - ZZ', and the 'Route' box is showing 'AU NSW Great Zig Zag'. If multiple routes are installed then these boxes may need to be changed to select the desired route.

Step 11 - In the 'Activity' boxe select '- Explore Route -'. Then select one of the availabale options in each of the 'Locomotive:', 'Consist:', 'Starting at:' and 'Heading to:' boxes. Then press the Start button. Open Rails may take a little while to load.

To start the train you will need to release the train brakes (; key), until fully released, adjust the reverser (W key - until fully forward), apply throttle (D key - to around 75%). Refer to the section below for some of the more common key commands for OR. You can also swap between different views by pressing the number keys - 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

You should now have a base working version of Open Rails for the Test Route. When Open Rails starts, it creates a log file called OpenRailsLog.txt which is located on your desktop. This file can be used to try and identify major faults and assist in their correction.

Refer to detailed Open Rails Operational Manual for more information on Open Rails.

Tutorial activites to help to learn how to drive a train in Open Rails are also available from Zig Zag Railway.

In OR, you will be able to select different activities, paths and consists, but not be able to create them at the moment as you will require access to MSTS to enable you to easily build new activities and paths.


Expanding your "World"

Adding or Changing Stock

Now that you have a working copy of OR you can start to add additional rolling stock or try some of the previously created activities. Most of the stock currently available was develped for MSTS, which means that it may refer to MSTS files that were provided with the original MSTS game and replacement files may not be readily available from the Internet, so you may need to edit stock to get it to work. In adding stock remember the KISS principle, try and only add a small number at a time and do regular tests to confirm all is ok. Also remember that you may need to change the path to the installation folder.

When adding stock, unless a consist (CON) file has been created for it, it will not appear in OR. Consist files are located in the Consists folder under the Trains folder in your folder structure.

It is highly recommended that you create or modify consists by using the Consist Editor function of Route Riter. (RR)

To install RR you will need to install Java first. A useful link to assist in installing RR is on the Steam4me Route Riter Installation page.

The RR Help files can be downloaded from here and inserted in the Route Riter folder.

Start RR. When you first run RR it may advise you that it can't find Train Simulator". To overcome this problem, find your << Open Rails Train Simulator >> folder and double click on it. Then go to "MSTS Path" under "Files" on the index bar and click on the "Select" button. This will ensure that RR functionality is maintained as much as possible. You may get an error message about the "Train.exe" file, but this is only advisory (I think).

RR can be used to do the following types of things:

Further Information

If you need to find more information on different types of problems, try looking at at the OR FAQs, or alternatively these sites, as they are a veritable mine of information and may provide some insights into any issues that you are graplling with:

If you have a specific Test or CTN related problem them use the contact page.


Basic Open Rails Command Keys

The following keys are the basic ones needed to get started in Open Rails. For a full listing refere to the Open Rails manual, or look at the 'Keyborad' TAB in the 'Options' menu.

Camera Controls

Move the camera with the arrow keys, or hold right click and move mouse to rotate camera

  • 1 - cab ( simulated for now ) - left and right arrows shift position
  • 2 - front of train
  • 3 - rear of train
  • 5 - passenger view
  • 6 - brakeman view - home and end move to front and back of train
  • 8 - free camera
  • ALT + ENTER - toggles fullscreen on and off
Basic Train Controls

To operate the train, use the following keys (for more controls and details, refer to Open Rails documentation):

  • W - Forward
  • S - Reverse
  • D - Increase Throttle
  • A - Decrease Throttle
  • ' (quotation mark) - Apply Train brakes
  • ; (semi-colon) - Release Train brakes
  • [ (Left Bracket) - Apply Engine brakes
  • ] (Right Bracket) - Release Engine brakes
  • G - Change turnout (point) - AHEAD of Direction
  • SHIFT + G - Change turnout (point) - BEHIND Direction
  • X - Sander On/Off
  • Press & Hold 'U' Key and mouse click on coupler - Coupling/Uncoupling
  • H - Press key to move to Dim, then Bright - Engine Lighting - Off, Dim, Bright
  • Ctrl + H; Press key to move to Dim, then Off - Engine Lighting - Bright, Dim, Off
Basic Information Views

To view relevant information, use the following keys (for more details, refer to Open Rails documentation):

  • 0 - Compass
  • F1 - Information Monitor - this provides a detailed list of key commands.
  • F4 - Track Monitor
  • F8 - Switch Monitor
  • F9 - Train Operations Monitor
  • F10 - Activity Monitor