PC Software: Rails Across America

Railway-related titles don’t get anything like the coverage of, say, aeronautical ones, but there are plenty of train simulations out there.

In much the same way that we have an enduring affection for the pioneering days of steam, the Americans recall their frontier-busting years during which thousands of miles of track were laid down and the vast country gradually became connected.

Rails Across America spans these groundbreaking decades, giving you the chance to buy into this spirit by employing a workforce and running your own railway, all the while eyeing far-flung but economically important cities.

Like any big business, railway chiefs must contend with petty bureaucrats who, for largely selfish reasons, may block your track-building application.

Profit will result from creating these crucial connections, but it’s an expensive business and you must balance the books while ensuring your workforce forges on.

Sometimes you’ll need to make local allegiances with other railway owners, but don’t be surprised if they later steal a march by tacking a profitable stretch of line onto yours to create a shorter route.

If you prefer, you can jump ahead to the 20th or even 21st century and concentrate on the day-to-day operation of a modern railway and run the type of locomotives found in such whimsical movies as Stand By Me.

An encyclopedia section compares contemporary models and provides a bit of background on each (see here for a screenshot).

No doubt other railway-themed titles provide more depth than this, but Rails Across America has a good mixture of information and interaction, is easy to pick up, and comes with a good range of preset scenarios. The online option is another bonus.

Publisher: Mindscape
Developer: Flying Lab Software
URL: www.mindscape.com

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Rosemary Haworth

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