About Rail3D


Rail3D is a railway simulator for MS-Windows.

A railway simulator not a train simulator 

Rail3D's emphasis is on simulating a railway network with lots of trains moving independently and doing their own thing, interacting at junctions and so on. (You can drive trains, but this is not the main emphasis).

Rail3D is designed to be easy to use, while at the same time flexible and sophisticated enough to allow realistic simulation of prototype railway operations.

Ease of use

Laying track in Rail3D is as simple as click and drag.  Track can be created at any position, angle or length.  At the same time, track-laying aids assist to create consistent track-spacing, smooth curves and straights.

For modelling real-world prototypes, Rail3D has tools for digitising routes from maps and importing digital elevation data.

Sophisticated Simulation

As well as simulating railway traction, including tractive effort, braking, adhesion and drag, Rail3D has a detailed signalling model designed to reproduce prototype signalling practices.  The simulation can be extended using the built in scripting code either with user macros or scripts linked to simulation events.


Rail3D's own models are built using simple statements in a text file: the text file language includes support for model textures and complex components such as pantographs, doors and steam loco valve gear.

Rail3D also has tools for converting MSTS models and importing models built in tools such as Google Sketchup.

Simulating a Railway

Rail3D is about simulating a railway.  Once set up, the signals control the movement of the trains as they follow their specified routes and timetables, which may include more complex operations like shunting, changing loco's, etc.


I started writing Rail3D in 1999.  Prior to writing Rail3D I had used various railway simulators, but none did quite what I wanted.  While there were lots of good programs, various things were not satisfactory with them including:

  • Limitations on size of layout and/or number of trains that can be run.

  • Inadequate signalling model.

  • Not running properly under Windows.

  • Difficulty in creating layouts.

  • Difficulty in creating models.

So I set out to see what I could produce myself, the aims of the project were (and still are):

  • To simulate a whole railway system: multiple trains, multiple timetables, multiple tracks.

  • Unlimited (or at least sufficiently large limits) number of trains and size of layout.

  • Program that runs properly under Windows.

  • Realistic signalling implementation.

  • Easy track creation.

  • Easy model creation.

Since then Rail3D has developed to the present state: it is an ongoing project and new versions and updates are continually produced. 

I believe Rail3D most of the aims above have been achieved and Rail3D is unique in its:

  • Ability to simulate a whole railway system with multiple trains operating automatically to different timetables.

  • Ease of layout creation.

  • Free availability!


I get a lot of pleasure out of writing and using Rail3D, I hope you enjoy it as well.



Getting Started

To get started with Rail3D please follow these steps:

  • Download the Rail3D installer from the download page.
    Please note that the installer is a small download and that the installation process requires an internet connection to download other components.  A broadband connection is recommended: the basic installation requires more than 11Mb of downloads plus more for stock, scenery and signals.

  • Run the Rail3D installer.  This will create the Rail3D program folder and download the required components for your installation.

  • Read the tutorials

  • You can find the full documentation for Rail3D here: docs

This will give you a working Rail3D installation, however you will not have many models available and it is recommended that you download some models and sample layouts:

  • Download one or more of the sample layouts. These include a sample of models including trains, signals, track etc.  When downloading ensure that the downloaded file is saved with the correct .TRP extension.  (Some browsers default to saving the file with .ZIP extension).

  • To open the package: start Rail3D and select "Open Package" from the "File" menu.  Browse to the package downloaded and click "OK".  Click "Select All" and "OK".  This will install the models in the package and open the sample layout.

  • Repeat for other packages as requried.


You can also download the entire Rail3D model library from the library page.  However, this is a significant download and requires a broadband connection and a certain amount of patience.  It is recommended that you start with the packages above, and update the library later.

MRG 12/08/2013 10:42:51