An invaluable source of ideas to make our routes better - video cab rides.


Trainzing since 12-2003
When I run out of steam and ideas while route building, I seek out sources for inspiration. In the older days of Trainzing, I would be working so I would have a commute and scenery to look at. Without the great online libraries we have now, this was a great source along with maps, books, and some videos. Today we have a newer and better source, which is becoming very popular. We now have that uncountable number of cab rides available now on YouTube, and I have now found these to be an invaluable source of inspiration. These videos not only provide ideas on who what and where things go, they also show where and what kinds of trees and plant grow along the ROW.

You can watch a video from nearly every country in the world, whether it's in the US, Australia, UK, or somewhere in Europe, and even places in Asia. Seeing the vistas, the placement of buildings, industries, and everything else unfolds before our eyes as we ride long with the driver.

Here's a great inspirational video, if you want to call it that, of a cab ride on the Indiana Northeastern RR between Coldwater and Hillsdale, Michigan. The slightly rolling hills, tall grass and power lines following the route remind me a bit of Jointed Rail's Midwest Grain routes.
Locomotive Ride Along: Indiana Northeastern RR Coldwater to Hillsdale

And the accompanying, but much longer run:

From Freemont to Quincy, Michigan

The most notable thing for me wasn't so much the track, though seeing the various kinds of tracks and quality of the track along the route is important and useful, it was the foliage. The various trees, bushes, grasses, and other plants blending together along this route. In some places the grass is thick and tall while in others its trimmed down either by a lawnmower or maybe due to livestock. Also note how the grass isn't always a meter tall except perhaps for a strip along the tracks. Also note the overhanging trees, and the various shrubs along the ROW. As I was riding along on this cab ride, I was making mental notes on what these are. That one there..., that's like RMM's Kust whatever. That tree over there is like one of the Forest Summer series trees which are commonly used now. I jotted down notes on a piece of scratch paper and made mental notes on how the grass and trees and other flora fell along the trackside.
You've nailed it John. Great videos mate. You've found the secret to creating not just good, but great layouts.

I use videos like these all the time, which pick up far more detail from the cab, than you would from looking out the window of a carriage.

A travel tour guide once said to me when I was in Venice, "Roy, don't just take photos with your camera, take photos with your mind". From that moment on, I realised that my brain had much greater capacity than my camera. So before I would take a photo with my camera, I'd look at the view and analyse it. I'd count how many different shades of green there were, the positioning and angle of the hills, the denseness of the trees, how bridges and roads followed the curves of the landscape, the colour of the earth and rocky outcrops, and then look for at least one object that drew my eyes to it. Then I would take a camera shot. Later, this would remind me of exactly what I saw.

I am sure that when you have a picture in the back of your mind of what you are trying to create in a route, it becomes a lot more easier, than tossing a few assets together on the table and hoping it will all work out. I know I have been selective a number of times, and spent many hours trying to locate a particular bridge or dockside object and not been happy until it met my requirements.\

All good stuff John.

Cheers mate,