How Can Ai Trains Be Improved?

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by CrazyDash, Jun 28, 2022.

  1. CrazyDash

    CrazyDash Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2020
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    Something I have been thinking a lot about recently is what could be improved about AI trains in train sim world 2? As like with anything, there is always room for improvement. So I have come up with a list of the things I would like to see added to AI trains in the future.

    Working Horns
    This is undoubtedly the most requested feature to be added to AI trains, and rightfully so. This would boost immersion within service mode substantially, especially for American content. DTG has mentioned that they have wanted to do this. It also seems like they are beginning to work their way towards doing that with recent addons having AI sound their horns/whistles in scenarios and tutorials. However, the main hurdle DTG has stated with fully implementing this system is that it would be too complicated to do for American content. This is a very valid point. However, this shouldn't stop them from doing it on non-American routes. Now for German content, it's kinda difficult to say what they would be able to do since German trains for the most part are not allowed to use their horns unless it is an emergency, so I would rule out German content. But for UK and US content, things are different. I think starting with UK content would put DTG in the right direction to one day implement a horn system for US content. UK trains don't use their horn a whole lot, but enough where it is probably doable for DTG to do. UK trains primarily use their horns at some railroad crossings. The UK has relatively simple horn codes, making it relatively easy to try this system out on. Trains can sound their horns for crossings, and maybe a randomized chance of them sounding their horn when leaving a station. Now when it comes to US content, things are obviously more difficult since they use a much more complicated system. American trains have specific horn codes for things such as railroad crossings, departing, and more. On a route like peninsula corridor, it would be extremely difficult to implement a system like this since the route is full of crossings, along with trains going through most of these crossings at different speeds since most services have varied stopping patterns. This should be a long term goal for US railroad crossings. However, they could implement this system for more simple horn codes. For example, when a train is about to move forward, the engineer usually does 2 short blasts. When a train needs to reverse, the engineer usually does 3 blasts. This is more strictly enforced for freight, but this can also be applied to passenger as well. Maybe it could be randomized for a passenger train to sound its horn when departing. However, I think a perfect first US route DTG could try this system on is the Harlem Line. The route has no railroad crossings on the section between GCT and North White Plains. However, Metro North engineers are required to do a single long blast when approaching a station whether stopping or not. I'm no developer but that would be super easy to implement. This could also be tried on a route like NEC Boston-Providence where there are very few crossings. Trains travel at relatively low speeds on the Stoughton Branch, and most crossings on the branch are relatively spread out. This would also be a relatively simple route to implement this on. They could also make it that engineers by chance sound their horn when passing through a station since engineers do that from time to time whether that be to warn passengers of the oncoming train or to please some foamers. Nonetheless, this would be a great system to see get implemented into the game at some point.

    Locomotives doing cold starts and shutdowns

    Another very requested feature to be added to AI trains. This is also an overall improvement to timetables as a whole. It would be really awesome to have trains that are in depots be completely shut down until they are needed to be used. Maybe about 5-10 minutes before a train is supposed to leave the depot, the train will roar to life. Same can be said for trains going out of service. Maybe a minute or so after a train returns to the depot, the train then shuts down. Not only would this make being at a depot more realistic, but it also gives players a reason to be able to do cold starts and shutdowns within the game since you almost never get to do them other than scenarios and some tutorials. Now obviously there are some hurdles. The first one is that some tutorials do not teach you how to start or shut down a locomotive. This means that various tutorials would have to be overhauled to teach people how to do this. A secondary solution however is by adding improved manuals for all routes in TSW. The second issue that DTG has stated is that there are times when AI trains would be driving around, but have their engines shut down. This would obviously be immersion-breaking. However, you would think that they would continue to find a way to be able to make this work. This would be yet another great feature to add to timetable mode and AI trains. This would make the overall experience within timetable mode even more immersive, which is why this is yet another highly requested feature.

    AI trains using safety systems

    Have you ever noticed while driving on a German route that while you have PZB on and are restricted to 45kmh that you see other trains flying past you? It is most obvious that AI trains are not hooked up to safety systems. This means that trains are traveling at much higher speeds than they realistically should be in more dense areas. Now I would imagine that this would be very difficult to implement onto AI trains, as there are various types of safety systems with different rules. I might as well also mention signaling. Most countries that don't have strict safety systems, they usually have to run at certain speeds depending on the aspect. It would definitely be cool if trains would slow down if they are under restricted signal aspects. If a train passes a pre-caution, it slows to 75 mph. If a signal is yellow, then trains slow to 45mph. Stuff like that would definitely make AI trains feel a lot more immersive. Now obviously like I mentioned before, this most likely is extremely difficult to implement, but if this ever does get added in the near future, that would be really awesome to see.

    Improved physics

    This somewhat ties into the suggestion above. DTG has stated that AI trains use a more simplified physics system, having no adhesion physics. This can be immersion-breaking at times, especially on trains that are relatively sluggish, or really heavy. This also causes a big issue when it comes to timetables. If a timetable is computer-generated, most of the time that means that all of the timings are based on how fast the AI trains can make it from stop to stop. This means that on certain routes, it is almost impossible to stay on time since AI trains have better acceleration and braking because they have a simplified physics system. A good example I have of this is on Spirit of Steam. I was doing a Jubilee express service from Liverpool-Crewe in the rain. I was only a minute late heading into Runcorn. But I ended up being 12 minutes late going into Crewe. Why? Because of the massive hill outside of Runcorn, this made my train super sluggish, and my train completely struggled to get up the hill. When I got to the section on the West Coast Mainline, I was only able to go 60mph due to the small upward gradient to Crewe. This makes me believe that AI steam trains most likely are able to get up the hill with no problem and that they ran up to 90mph heading towards Crewe which is why I was 10 minutes late. Because AI trains have simplified physics, it made the computer-generated times for most express services almost impossible to be on time for a player. This is something I definitely want to see get addressed within the near future as this is both immersion-breaking, and not realistic.

    More realistic driving

    This also ties up with the last 2 suggestions. I have noticed that most AI trains do not drive that realistically. A good example of this is on Sherman Hill. Trains go down the massive 1.5% gradient at 55mph. In real life, trains do not go that fast because of how heavy their trains are. Freight trains usually have to rely on only their dynamic brakes to go downhill. If they use their airbrakes, they risk running out of air and becoming a runaway train. This is why they only use dynamics when going downhill. But because of that, trains have to travel at slower speeds since dynamic brakes are much more effective at slower speeds. Freight trains usually go down the Sherman Hill at about 20-30mph in real life. Another example is from Peninsula Corridor. Something I have always noticed from AI trains is that they always go up to notch 8 to get moving. Now before I go any further, this actually is realistic to real life as Caltrain engineers do put the throttle in notch 8 when departing stations for usual commuter service. However, trains also go into notch 8 when only having to travel at relatively slow speeds. They never go into just notches 1-3 to hold the train's speed. Instead, they have their throttles on at notch 8 while having air brakes applies. How do I know? It's because you can hear brakes screeching when they are going at slower speeds. This is most definitely not realistic. I think Ai trains overall needs to become smarter to be more realistic. Now an additional suggestion I have that has been requested by the community is for AI trains to not always drive the exact same every single time. By this I mean trains stopping in the exact same spot, trains applying brakes too early, stuff like that. People want trains to not drive exactly the same every single time. This then makes service mode more interesting as you never know how the surrounding trains may behave. Now obviously, these improvements may be difficult to do as well, but they would definitely make AI trains a lot more realistic.

    Adjustments of headlights

    This is more of a nitpick. In the US, because of how bright train headlights are, most railways require engineers to dim their headlights whenever they are passing another train to prevent engineers from being blinded by oncoming trains. I would imagine this would be a really difficult system to implement since each train would have to know where every other train is so that they can act accordingly. I could also see this system being very unreliable in the beginning because of how complicated it could be.


    These are some of the main improvements I would love to see get implemented to AI trains within the near future. It would make timetable mode feel a lot more realistic, and make AI trains feel a lot less like robots, but more like real people that are behind the controls. It would definitely give people another reason to play in service mode which is why I hope to see some of these features get added to the game in the near future.
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  2. rennekton#1349

    rennekton#1349 Active Member

    Jun 5, 2022
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    Even if 1 of these gets implemented, it would make tsw much more realistic and immersive. Like you said, it doesn't have to be on every single route. Try it on a single route, see how it goes, get feedback and expand to other routes once it's doable. It might be very difficult to implement but it would still be worth trying it out first.
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  3. Mich

    Mich Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2020
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    Horns are particularly annoying to me, because it's been partially pulled off a few times at this point. In TS Classic all of Smokebox's steam locos sound their whistle when starting and stopping as AI traffic, and in TSW NTP's locos sound their horn when starting. I see no excuse for not making it standard for engines to sound their horn at least when starting and stopping.
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