Newcomers to MSTS arrive in the forums all the time; there seems to be a recent wave of them, which really is a good thing. Unfortunately, not everyone takes time to read directions and tutorials, some post without spelling or grammar checking, feathers get ruffled… Here’s a bit of advice in an open letter to get started with your best foot forward — and not in your mouth!
Category Archives: MSTS
Tsection.dat at Version 44
TSECTION.DAT build 42 caused quite a stir, but ultimately it may well have been worth it. Analysis of build 42 positively identified and publicized some tsection-related issues that had been in existence for a while now. The decision was made to roll back the affected clearances on turnouts and track sections that had been stable through build 38, and only carry forward changes made to objects that were new in tsection builds from 38 forward. This seems to be a “best of both worlds” solution, and should eliminate the need at this point for separate US and UK builds.
You should be able to use build 44 with all routes unless there is a very unique need in a route for a specific tsection variation. During the build 42 debate, I set up Train Store to swap out version-appropriate tsection builds depending on the route being selected. I like this method since it means that any route can be paired with the TSECTION.DAT build it was designed with in the first place. This totally eliminates tsection-based errors with signalling, AI’s and paths. I have yet to test with build 44, but when I do, I’ll post my findings.
TSECTION.DAT build 44 can be downloaded at TrainSim.com and UKTrainsim.com as usual.
(Note: Build 43 does not exist, for all practical purposes. It was released, but syntax errors were discovered and it was superseded by Build 44 within a couple of days. There are no routes that will ever need build 43.)
Just a few days ago, the standardized TSECTION.DAT file was upgraded to Build 42. There have been many conflicting reports that the clearance distances for various points (turnouts) are causing problems with some routes, especially older routes of all kinds and a fair number routes set in the UK. The simplest fix seems to be to use TSECTION.DAT Build 38 in the main MSTS “Global” folder for routes that have issues with Build42. Build 38 also works with a large number of freeware and payware routes, but it’s not “one-size-fits-all” by any means.
How do you know that Build 42 breaks a route? The most common is an “Activity ended – Ignored red signal” message when you pass a green signal on a turnout. If you watch the train pass the signal from outside the cab, you’ll see the signal change from green to red just in front of your locomotive as you pass it. Other issues can be with AI’s; they may get stuck at signals where they didn’t before, or have problems with their paths.
Manually switching out TSECTION.DAT files is a bit of a pain. The must-have utility Train Store can change them out automatically for you once you set up that feature. Train Store can be downloaded TrainSim.com and UKTrainSim.com.
The trickier part is getting a hold of TSECTION.DAT Build 38 itself, but it’s not too hard. The main trainsim sites try to keep only the latest version in their file libraries; normally this would be best practice. If you have older payware routes, some may include Build 38. XTracks version 3.20 includes it. This is the latest version of XTracks in the file libraries of TrainSim.com and UKTrainSim.com. If download XTracks, you should be able to extract it. Just run the installer and point the install location “dummy” empty MSTS folder or temp folder and let it run, then copy the TSECTION.DAT file and uninstall/delete the rest.) Open the TSECTION.DAT file in a text editor and you will see the version given in the header of the file.
For those who aren’t so fortunate as to have a copy of Build 38 on hand or want a quick solution, here is a zipped copy: TSECTION.DAT Build 38
MSTS Process Priority Improvement (Windows XP)
Finding a way to get significant performance improvements with MSTS can be somewhat hit-or-miss, but here is one trick that does make a noticeable improvement. Windows has a means of allowing users to change the priority at which various processes are handled; it’s buried in the Task Manager interface but often known only to power users. In the first tutorial added to the site, here’s how to take advantage of this feature with a free-for-private-use tool called Prio.
How do I make MSTS perform better? I think I’ve lost count of how many times that’s been asked in the various forums over the years. It has to be one of the all-time number one questions. And it’s not really surprising. MSTS doesn’t precisely behave the way computer users, novice or expert, might expect.