Open Rails Updated to Version 1.3

The “Stable” version of Open Rails is now at version 1.3. This will be the official release version until the next major one, which tends to occur at roughly yearly intervals. If you’ve been using the frequent “experimental” releases, you’re already running with all the features in 1.3, and the “experimental” branch will continue to add new features and bug-fixes as they’re developed instead of waiting for the major version roll-up.

Some highlights from Version 1.3:

  • Working transfer tables added to complement working turntables
  • 3D cabs can now support mouse control
  • Timetable operation can support splitting and joining trains
  • “Evaluation” of completed activities is working (Frequently requested feature to carry over from MSTS)
  • Activity operation now supports extensions with additional, external files and randomization of events in activities
  • Car spawner (road traffic generator) upgraded to support animated people in scenery
  • Environment sound improvements – curve and switch sounds in routes, cab radio chatter support
  • AI trains can open and close doors at station stops
  • Improvements to vacuum brake simulation
  • Improvements to steam locomotive exhaust and steam effects from rolling stock
  • Various improvements for creating upgraded content beyond MSTS standards
  • Improvements to timetable-based operation
  • Improvements to signal scripting
  • Wind resistance of trains can be simulated

For anyone new to Open Rails, the original Edinbugh-Glasgow demo route is available from the “Content” section of the Downloads pages on the Open Rails website. Additionally, the Australian (New South Wales) steam-era Great Zig Zag Railway freeware route is conveniently linked from the Open Rails site.

And finally, TrainSimulations (Formerly Streamlines) is also offering a starter route for free, which is based on their BNSF Scenic Subdivision. It contains the route and a smaller selection of locomotives and rolling stock, complete with activities ready to try.

These are complete routes including all necessary locomotives, rolling stock, and activities to operate — no additional downloads (or pre-existing MSTS files*) are needed.

Links for these are available on the Open Rails website, or try the links here; however they are subject to change over time.

* Remember that many freeware routes have dependencies which require equipment, scenery, and track assets from MSTS. Open Rails itself doesn’t require them to run, and the sample routes mentioned above are entirely self-contained and don’t have these requirements. It’s recommended to purchase and have an install of MSTS if you want to take advantage of the wide range of pre-existing MSTS content and MSTS-derived content in Open Rails.

Route Riter Final Version – 7.6.26

Route Riter has been, and still is, the must-have utility for maintaining an MSTS installation. Mike Simpson, the author, stopped updating it with version 7.6.26.

Another programmer and trainsim hobbyist convinced Mike to release the source code to him for continuing development. In itself, that’s not a bad thing.

Unfortunately, a couple of bad things have subsequently happened.

First, the follow-on version of Route Riter (7.7.x) initially garnered reports of installation problems and bugs.

Second, the programmer who holds the source code became involved in some unpleasant and retaliatory behavior at Elvas Tower and TrainSim. It very nearly caused Elvas Tower to shut down the forums. Since then, accusations have flown, bad behavior has blossomed, and in general a dark cloud has settled over the MSTS/Open Rails world.

Right now, as of the date of this post, the only version of Route Riter that is positively known by the trainsimming community to be reliable, simply through sheer numbers of satisfied users, is version 7.6.26.

The download page for the newer version, not released by Mike Simpson, contains a “Buy Now” link for US $20.00. The download, however is free. The current programmer apologized in a forum post that there was a problem with the web page’s shopping cart function. However, the problem has not been corrected yet.

Version 7.6.26 can be downloaded from Mike Simpson’s website HERE.

If Mike’s website or link ever goes away, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has cataloged the download. Here are two working links which will let you download Route Riter 7.6.26:

Link 1, based on the latest version of Mike’s Site: Wayback Machine Link 1

Link 2, based on an older version of the site — which may compose better in your browser: Wayback Machine Link 2

Currently, I can only advise using version 7.6.26. Subsequent versions are NOT authored or supported my Mike Simpson, Route Riter’s original author. Subsequent versions have not been extensively tested in the trainsimming community, and, as such are not widely trusted.

Editorial Note: Route Riter version 7.6.26 and earlier is the work of Mike Simpson and no one else. Any DMCA-related claims pertaining to version 7.6.26 and earlier are solely in Mike Simpson’s hands. No other parties should be allowed to lay any claims to version 7.6.26 or earlier. With respect to version 7.6.26 and earlier, this website does not recognize any DMCA claims from any party other than its creator, Mike Simpson. Rights to subsequent versions may be held by other parties. This post does not link to any subsequent versions. The MSTS Roundhouse does NOT endorse any version of Route Riter beyond 7.6.26.

Open Rails 1.0 Released

Open Rails v1.0 is finalized and released. Enjoy!

It’s a huge milestone to effectively say OR has met its initial set of goals. If you haven’t tried OR, now is the time. It’s already capable of more than MSTS, and development isn’t pausing at all. There will be refinements and new capabilities to add; the experimental and unstable versions will continue to be offered for testing and evaluation.

Right now, Open Rails can do virtually anything that MSTS could ever do. Any remaining differences are minor. Known bugs exist that will be addressed, but they’ve generally been found to be less significant or “edge cases”, in development terms, that typical operation won’t see effects of them. The “showstopper” bugs appear to be resolved. At this point, moving the focus beyond MSTS will allow more new approaches to old problems – and that alone may provide for ways that will both solve old remaining bugs and open up new capabilities.

What’s in the future? Not only further refinements and improvements in functionality, but now the editors and tools will come into closer focus over time. We already have basic path editing in the Track Viewer, the completely new and realistic Timetable Mode and the solid foundation for multi-player capability. Ideas are already circulating for how to achieve an MSTS-style activity editor and a route editor. And gradually, OR will grow beyond the MSTS “box” and into its own environment that will encompass MSTS content plus its own capabilities.

So, for anyone still wondering if there will ever be a train simulator to replace MSTS, it’s safe to say it’s here. Open Rails is ready and will continue to grow.


Java and Route Riter

Mike Simpson’s Route Riter is the go-to utility for both Open Rails and MSTS for checking and fixing rolling stock and route files, plus it has an invaluable set of tools for route builders and a good consist editor. It also includes the TSUtil suite and provides an interface to the TSUtil tools inside the Route Riter interface. TSUtil, however, needs Java to run, and that’s added some extra manual configuration steps to get it working in modern versions of Windows and Java.

The most common problem is that, after installing Route Riter or after taking a Java update with an existing, working Route Riter installation, you get an error when Route Riter Starts that says “You do not have a Java Runtime system” and Route Riter won’t work. It sounds bad, what’s really happening is usually fairly simple to fix.

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