Retiring a longtime route project.


Trainzing since 12-2003
I started this route in earnest in January 2004 shortly after I got TRS2004. I had a plan to build my then active model railroad as a full-sized route. Little did I know that the route would be around nearly two decades later. Over the years, the route grew, shrank, changed shape a bit, but always stayed true to the theme I set out as an industrial city sending its goods to a port city located some distance away. The original rail line eventually became part of a larger system and the line soldiered on until Guilford bought them in the early 1980s. After splitting from Guilford, the line recovered and the company became a designated operator of a larger system as the story goes.

Over the ensuing years, my route building skills improved, the plans became more firmed up, and mergers occurred. The route stayed more or less in its original form until TRS2006 when I decided it was time for a change. The port city changed and I never made it to the mill city located some distance away. There were other mill cities, a mountain division, more coastal running, a big fancy schmancy town or two, but not "the mill city". For some reason that Holy Grail never appeared.

In 2010 I had a major PC crash and nearly lost everything including backups. The route and my Trainz content miraculously survived the ordeal but barely. The route suffered some major corruption and I lost a good portion of it which needed to be rebuilt from scratch. Using some magic tricks and a few prayers, I was able to salvage at least the bigger part of the route, but lost the seaport area and some other parts I had worked on. I eventually recovered the parts from some older backups since the crash occurred just before I could backup my current version. A bit of merging, and the route continued to run right through TS12, T:ANE, and TRS2019.

Today, I archived the route and put it away. Why? It's actually falling apart under its weight. There are too many things wrong with it due to the intervening time. There are also things that I want to do differently, replace parts with others, and perhaps redo the mainline, again. I also made an awful mistake which I can't recover from very gracefully. I was thinning a forest down some and deleted some trees. I then decided to replace others, but left the delete button enabled. I didn't notice this in the section I was in immediately because there are not a lot of trees there to begin with. Traveling, however, to the mountainous parts, however, showed bare hills. Yes, what was supposed to be thick forests was empty. Baseboard after baseboard of empty barren landscape. I blighted my forest as if a great forest fire wiped out the area.

After recovering from the shock, I found other things that went unnoticed. Over the years, the route suffered various ills and events as noted, and apparently due to its size I never noticed sunken baseboards. Yeah those things. This wouldn't have been so bad if it was the freeform parts, but this occurred in sections I merged in from DEM sources. Recreating those again is difficult. I did patch one area from a backup, but that was truly painful and required deleting the rest of the route to capture a single baseboard.

One piece was bad enough, but upon looking further around the route, I found more and more holes and it was at that time I decided to retire this nearly lifelong project.

I mean lifelong. A 16-year project saw deaths in my family, births, various pets come and go, and eventually my retirement. One cat in particular enjoyed the Auran aliens and would come running when I started up TRS2004 when she heard the music. Lili passed away in 2020 at 17 years. I didn't run the built in routes then and rarely do now and I worked on my route instead. Traveling back and forth to work had me thinking about changes and additions I could make when I got home. I would them implement them and continue growing the route a few baseboards at a time over the ensuing years. When I lost my sister in 2017, I escaped by Trainzing. When my mom passed in 2018, the first thing I did was open up my route and build as if to sneak away into my own world while the chaos around me was growing. The route now has joined them and will remain in my memories as I create a new one. The old Phoenix here can't be risen from the ashes any longer.
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Hey John,
It sounds like this was something you needed to get off your chest and what better place than here? I'm sure a lot of people here can relate to your story one way or another. Maybe a fresh start will do you good? Anyways I wish you the best in your journey wherever it takes you.
Take care,
Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story. Hopefully you aren't giving up on Trainz, that would be a great loss to the community. I have learned much from your input.
Well John you and I appear to have commenced about the same time with TRS2004. my route which I am still improving on commenced with a private line between Pateley Bridge and Lofthouse in Nidderdale. I was fortunate to acquire the actual engineers track drawings to scale. Not satisfied with that I included an NER extension to Harrogate. it now encompasses a large portion of North Yorkshire from York to Northampton and Darlington generally all to the West of the East Coast main Line. the era is steam set in the pre amalgamation days.
Probably like yourself I am getting on in year 82 and will in the near future try to find someone to take over the route including all my historical collection of data for the route.
Many avid Trainzers will have been through a similar process - build, refine, add a bit ....'round and 'round until there's a great sprawl of route and perhaps also a complex session that nevertheless becomes utterly familiar because of the constant running and refining. One day you realise it's all somehow become unsatisfactory because you can build better - but it would take another million hours (feels like) to rebuild your older stuff to meet those better standards.

It can seem like a waste, to scrap a route & session that you spent an enormous amount of time building. But it isn't if you realise that what was important was less the final result (what you just scrapped) but rather the process of getting there. The overarching lesson is perhaps that there are no ends, only means - which are in fact the same thing. We just mistook some aspect of our pleasure (the hoped-for final perfect result) for the important thing. In reality, it's the minute-by-minute process of creation that's at least as important as the finished result. This is especially true if you never release your Trainz route & session to anyone else.

If there is the objective of creating for someone else, then the final result does become more important. You do want to reach a certain standard. (Well, most do). :) Yet the process of creation is still just as meaningful, relevant, pleasurable and important. In some ways, the final result is merely a summary or an emblem of all that creating pleasure.

My main hobbies are furniture making and cycling. I also do a lot of dog walking in beautiful places. The processes are, to me personally, far more important than the end result. Even with the furniture (which I do strive to make to a high standard) I find I can hardly wait to get it out of the shed so I can start the next thing. I've made a couple of hundred pieces of wooden stuff that I gave away and won't ever see again. It's satisfying to give someone a nice thing but far more satisfying to start the next one, especially if I just learned a new trick or two from making the previous one.

Thanks for sharing this John, I hope that you feel better for getting it off your chest.
I've been Trainzing for what seems a lifetime too, suffered PC malfunctions, made errors that deleted my databases, we probably have shared similar catastrophies silently over the years.
I even lost my route back-up USB drive which I needed to use to re-populate a new HDD after a failure, which I was devastated about, but I just continued creating routes and turned to reskinning.
Mojo loss is another event that occurs every now and then too.
Late last year I discovered my lost USB drive in between 2 pairs of socks in the lower levels of my sock drawer when I was clearing out old Christmas present unworn socks! No idea how it got there though.
I was very pleased to get to see my lost creations again and had a silent giggle when I saw just how bad my trackwork was on the early routes.
So, now I am repairing and updating them to TRS19 (SP1) standards and thoroughly enjoying myself!

Don't give up, your contributions to this forum are priceless.
Take this opportunity John to apply your skills to make new routes and hopefully get at least one on the DLS for us to enjoy.

A new start can be good for you!

Cheers and stay safe.

P.S. my USB drives now hang on pieces of string on a keyhook rack next to the wall clock, so I can easily see if one has gone sock again :)
I relate, as many do, your frustration as an outline of experiences I have had. You helped me through some really "dumb periods". Mostly wrong assumptions. Maybe the adoption of an existing route that cries for upgrade and improvement would be a therapy. Knowing that there is a solid base under your changes really helps. Keeping much of the original, while expanding, helps when you think N3V "has done it again". I use routes from my region of Pennsylvania (west) and start "fixing". If I become bored with a local route I can jump to West Virginia and the C&O route or New England with the ocean shoreline. Go to the local shelter and get a cat.
Sorry to hear, John, but if it isn't worth the hassle, it isn't worth the stress. You are still invaluable here on the forums, and I understand completely about the trouble of building a prototype route. You have another life out there, make the most of it!
A sad story but nice how Trainz was able to help you over some of the rough spots. I wonder if the Brew Crew back in the day ever thought that this was even a possibility. Good luck in creating your new route. Like you I also find it therapeutic to get lost in the minutia of building a route to forget about real world issue for the duration.
Thanks guys for the support. Yeah, it's heartbreaking to put the old gal out to pasture in the rhetorical sense, but I am starting afresh. In some ways I'm also burying bad times and past life in there as well. The route was a good teacher about all things Trainz especially with those "thanks N3V Brew Crew" moments when stuff undoes or doesn't work like it did in the past. In the past couple of years, I had imported a chunk of the earliest versions and used them as a stepping stone for the coastal portion I was redoing. That was a combination of mergers of something from George Fisher plus my own building. After a lick and a promise, I had the area looking good, but there were odd baseboard issues there as well with stuff not loading up properly all the time and this issue spread across the route like bread mold on a moist dinner roll. I did get a good chuckle over my trackwork too though. I had good intentions in a lot of places, but at the same time I had a lot of why did I do that? moments as well.

Last night I downloaded a rather large 2-DEM piece of southern New England. The area I am most interested in runs from Portsmouth, NH to Plum Island along the coast and as far west as Merrimack, NH and up to Manchester, NH. This creates a rhomboid as I include my hometown and surrounding communities and space in between. There will be a lot of trimming to do once I figure out what I want out of it. The stretch from Plum Island through the Merrimack Valley is ideal for my mainline. In my area, the railroad line runs north-south rather than east-west even though the line is marked western on the old B&M time table, but that line to Portland Maine is north-south as it runs up from Boston. Anyway, over the past decades, the east-west lines were removed for some reason, probably because they competed with the B&M. My plan is to reinclude those again as well as build a new line along the Merrimack Valley from Bradford, (Haverhill on the south side of the Merrimack River) use existing tracks to Groveland and then run down the Merrimack to Newburyport.

Here's a map and a rough sketch of the region. Red lines are existing trackage, the green is abandoned lines, and yellow lines represent my made up sections. The area is quite huge and will become another 20-year project should both Trainz xxxx and I survive that long.



  • Map Plan.jpg
    Map Plan.jpg
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A post straight from the heart! Thanks for sharing John.

Like a few above allready posted, your help here on the forums is greatly appreciated,
much of the knowledge you have, came from making that route.

In suggestions boxcar, my wishlist... thread I asked to expand on mapview
and posibilities to select a few baseboards and save as new route
good chance you can then re-use many sections of your route.

You learned, you escaped, you struggled, you achieved, you enjoyed all with this route and trainz.
thats how it should be.

Starting fresh is not a bad thing, you still keep the knowledge
and succes with the new project :)
greetings GM
Hi John,

reading this thread is like looking in the mirror and see what most of our routes over the years went thru with results calling it good and bad and ugly.
Trainz requires patience, time and lots of it.
Most it requires knowledge and stamina and sort of never give up until it is obvious to move on.
Replacing assets over the years if lucky could make a route survivable but no guarantee.
I am pretty lucky so far but luck not just fall into my hands, a lot of sweat, blood and tears and curses were part of the stage.
I have a virtual trash room where at times i can throw sponge bricks and trainz releases/assets that makes me jump thru the ceiling.
Seasoned trainzers know if you keep the habit and pace you can memorize a lot of good stuff that could make it to replace zombie assets and realloy old one's.
The bad thing is when faulty fake assets show up suddenly or simply vanished......
Enough said you are a trainz hero for many and your help and posts are proof of it!
Thank you for being our friend for all those years!

Roy Ning
I started a prototype route in TS12 (I had bungled around on poorly done routes long before that). I will no longer attempt a proto route. Just too demanding. I don't necessarily think it is time wasted. At least I wasn't watching junk on television!
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I'm glad you are not quiting !

Over the years we've gotten word of guys giving up and quiting and that is always a big loss to the community.

If you give us updates on your progress, I'm sure a lot of us will really appreciate it and continue to learn from you as we have been.

Drive-on Brother!

Wild Willy the Wacko
Good Evening John,

Just wanted you to know, I opened Forum Message list, and was just getting ready to retire for the night. yours was the last message of the Night.....

My Eyes closing :hehe:

I read about 3 lines of your Story, and decided to put a saved Link to follow up and read the next day, when I was awake. This was one Story I didn't won't to miss.....

After reading it the next day, I was delighted your staying with us........Your help and guidance has been invaluable to me in times of desperation and lots of other members here too!

Thank you for sharing a such heartfelt story with us..........:D

PS......Saw your new DEM map preview.....Way Cool John,,,,,,,Have fun......
This thread is why I read the forums daily to keep up with not only "Trainz" but, also, the great people who post here. John, I so admire the dedication and tenacity!
Thanks guys...

I'll post updates as time goes on. I'm trimming my data down a bit because when I loaded it in, the whole shebang was over 2 GB! Yikes!!! TRS2019 loaded it OK and I could move about quickly for now, but the shear size scared me. I felt a bit too overwhelmed and instantly tired. It's the same familiar feeling I get when I started a new music project such as Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano. A 90-plus minute work that's nothing but grueling exercises, or so it seemed! With that said, since this is a DEM, I can pick a portion and work on that. Trim out what I don't want and then add to it as I want.

I was thinking of starting in Plum Island which will become Willows Point and work back to Newburyport where that will be Eastport. I can then connect to the Eastern Railroad and continue to Georgetown and back to Bradford on the former Bradford and Georgetown, which was ripped up sometime in the early 1940s. I looked at going along the Merrimack, but the embankment would require too much cutting and the curves too tight to follow the river without tunneling. I have to think this through and may do that anyway just because.

Map here:

Satellite view:

The old Eastern Railroad ran north across a large swing span drawbridge and on to Portland. That line was truncated in 1957 above Portsmouth when through passenger service to Portland was terminated except for slogging commuter trains via the B&M Western Division. In the 1970s, there was a "bridge accident" that caused the swing to stay open and the line was cut but accessed from Newfields at Rockingham Jct. That service was slowly cut back and now it's all gone thanks to Pan Am. I plan to put this line back because it served as a fast, double-track, line to Portland Maine. Even back in the early days, that line was 60 mph due to its near straight line up from Ipswich to Portsmouth and then on to Portland. Today the southern portion is still an active commuter line that terminates at Newbury right at the Newburyport town line. What's interesting is the MBTA (T) uses a portion of the old Bradford to Newburyport branch for its storage facility. That old line once had a short branch called the City Railroad which ran in a short tunnel out to the port area.

My plan is to do a bit of engineering and put in a branch connecting to Plum Island across the salt marshes. The Plum Island Pike cuts off at a funny angle near the small airport as if there were once tracks that paralleled it. My tracks will connect to the City Railroad branch and run between some houses and buildings then out across the marshes to Plum Island.

There's a lot of imagineering and planning here which should keep me occupied for quite sometime. It's a doable project if I don't make my chunks so huge I can't manage them and end up overwhelmed.
After reading your initial story here John, why was I immediately reminded of Richard Dreyfuss messily trying to build a model of Devil's Tower Wyoming out of clay in that old sci-fi movie?

I am glad you are not retiring from Trainz, you have been many a Trainzer's "agony aunt". Including mine once or twice - you are much appreciated.
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