Japanese Train Simulators - Trainz, BVE and MSTS
Train simulators is a great way to experience driving a train or tram. It goes beyond what can be done with model trains and offers options that can only be achieved in a virtual environment. I started using train simulators as a extension of my model rail activities and found it was a perfect way to enhance my hobby. Below I describe the various programs that I have used.
BVE is Japanese program that is perfect accessory for anyone the is into Japanese model trains. The program is free and it has a large community of supporters. There are three versions of the program, BVE, BVE4 and openBVE. It also has trains and routes from other countries as well. Take a look at the BVE Routes website for details. The program can be downloaded from BVE and openBVE. Click on the images below to see a larger version.
Microsoft Train Simulator is probably the best known of the train sim programs. It has some great trains and routes that come with the package. The two Japanese routes are my favorites although the Acela USA route is also quite good too. There is a large number of add-ons for the program which allow you to expand the number of routes and trains. Although it is popular, I find the Trainz program to be more to my liking. Click on the images below to see a larger version.
Trainz is by far the best simulator I have used. The version I mostly use is TRS 2006. It has a great range of routes and trains, plus tools for creating your own layouts. There is a large range of free and payware add-ons that you can get for the program. My favorites are the tram routes Modula City and Cabon City from Trainzland. Some of the trams I use on the Trainzland routes are from the PTrams site. I also use some German trams from V6E which are great. Click on the images to see a larger version of the Trainz screen shots from Modula City, Cabon City and Mittelstadt.