Route Building, 2nd Edition
for Microsoft Train Simulator

Electronic Edition, 4-color book
Written by Michael Vone

Create new and better Train Simulator Worlds

Microsoft Train Simulator is the most popular software for the railroad hobbyist.

One of the more widely praised features of MSTS is the ability to create new "worlds" - both authentic and imaginary - using its built-in tools. But as is true with most tools, it takes a fair amount of trial and error to become proficient with them. This book flattens the learning curve.

The Step by Step Guide to Route Building, 2nd Edition covers route building from the beginning to the end in absolute detail. Michael Vone is widely know as an authority on the Route Editor and his 380 page book is now essential reading for all.

You'll learn something from every page in this book. Don't start your route without it!

Click to see the full Table of Contents

What Users say about the book:

"Without this book I would have NEVER figured out half of this stuff! I'd recommend it"

"I bought it, and think it's probably the best money I'll ever spend on MSTS. You are taken through building a route that includes just about everything on it, step by step."

"... Mike did a fantastic job. I read the review and it gives the book a thumbs up. For the money you spend, let me tell you it is an excellent buy."

"... I bought Mike's guide and set down and built the sample route he has outlined step by step. I stopped and compared my effort with the completed route which is included. It has increased my learning curve immensely and I think well worth the money."

"Before getting this book the route editor was beyond my grasp, I read these forums regularly, and while there is a lot of good info here, it is very time consuming with a bad dial up connection to search the forums. Now I have created a few small fictional routes sort of as practice for modeling a real life route. I would by it again tommorow if I needed to."

Read the review at TrainSim UK   

This Book is One of a Kind

Unlike other books, Michael's Step by Step Guide to Route Building has no peer. He covers the basics from start to finish. And he covers the advanced in a similar way.

He has thoroughly researched MSTS and writes about topics that you won't read about elsewhere. And his step by step approach guarantees that you'll be successful when you use them for your our projects.

When you've completed the book, you'll be able to make your own route similar to Michael's First Route. This is a neat little demonstration route that you can install and run to verify all of the techniques and is included with the book.

In his research, Michael has developed the Object Rotator. This is an Excel-based application to accurately position and align 3D objects in MSTS routes. This advanced tool is included at no additional charge and includes a 30+ page user's guide.

NEW Michael has recently updated the Object Rotator. To download the new version from AVSIM, please click here (3.5 MB)

Available By Convenient Download

Step by Step Guide to Route Building
is currently available only as an Electronic Edition. Order now and we will conveniently and speedily deliver this 380+ page book to you via the Internet. It's presented in Adobe's popular PDF format in full 4-color and ready to view and/or print. The download size is only 19MB.

This item is no longer available. Please visit for current products.

Title Author Item # ISBN # Price Media Available

Step by Step Guide to
Route Building

Michael Vone






Full Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • How to Use this Guide
  • Building "First Route": a project for the first-time user of the MSTS Editors and Tools
  • 1. Planning a Route
    1.1 Steps in designing and building a route
    1.2 Designing a route
    1.3 MSTS limitations
  • 2. The Route Geometry Extractor (RGE)
    2.1 What does the RGE do and not do?
    2.2 Three types of tiles
  • A. Building "First Route": preparing the geographic tiles on which the route will lay
  • 2.3 Using RGE
    2.4 Deleting and adding tiles
    2.5 Changing the Route Editor Start Tile
    2.6 [NEW] Importing real terrain elevations (DEM)
  • 3. The Route Editor (RE)
    3.1 Using RE
    3.1.1 Order of operations
  • B. Building "First Route": starting the Route Editor
  • 3.1.2 Starting in RE
  • C. Building "First Route": selecting working windows in the Route Editor
  • 3.1.3 Selecting working windows in RE
  • D. Building "First Route": moving and rotating the camera
  • 3.1.4 Handling the camera
    3.1.5 Defining tile properties
    3.1.6 Defining patch properties
    3.1.7 Using the mode window
    3.1.8 Saving and backing up
    3.1.9 Recovering from track database errors
    3.2 Guides for laying tracks
    3.2.1 Planting trees
    3.2.2 Using markers
    3.2.3 Using water
  • E. Building "First Route": laying the first tracks
  • 3.3 Laying track
    3.3.1 Selecting a laid track section
    3.3.2 Deleting a laid track section
    3.3.3 Choice of track sections
    3.3.4 Placing track on the ground
    3.3.5 Placing the first track section
  • F. Building "First Route": adding sloping tracks over a hill, and creating a spur
  • 3.3.6 Sloping and banking a track section
    3.3.7 Adjusting terrain height to fit the track
  • G. Building "First Route": snaking downhill with dynamic track
    H. Building "First Route": making a siding
  • 3.3.8 Dynamic tracks
  • I. Building "First Route": testing the route with an Activity
    J. Building "First Route": switching to and from dual track, and placing a dual-track crossover
  • 3.3.9 Some useful track combinations
    a) Dual-single track transition
    b) Dual-track crossover
    c) Double dual-track crossover
    d) Overlapped double-track crossover
    e) Proper double-track crossover
    f) Dual-track branch
    g) Overhead crossing
    h) Spirals (helices)
    i) Spreading dual track around an island platform
    3.3.10 Measuring track spacing
    3.3.11 Joining meeting tracks
    a) Using skewed track
    b) Joining level tracks
    c) Joining non-level tracks
    d) Joining offset parallel tracks
    3.3.12 Checking for poor joints, especially in grades
    3.3.13 [NEW] Add-on tracks and roads, including XTracks
    3.4 Special track layouts
    3.4.1 Bridges
    3.5 [NEW] Changing the track's appearance
  • K. Building "First Route": digging a tunnel, and laying track over it
  • 3.4.2 Underground tunnels - the easy part
  • L. Building "First Route": showing water, and making an underwater tunnel
  • 3.4.3 Underwater tunnels - the easy part
  • M. Building "First Route": making a simple station with yard; adding a wye and a reversal loop
  • 3.4.4 Loops and wyes
    a) Positioning loops and wyes
    b) Laying a reversal loop (balloon)
    c) Laying a wye
    d) Loops and wyes in tunnels
    3.4.5 [NEW] Linking distant places with straight tracks
    3.5 Terrain shaping
  • N. Building "First Route": shaping a tunnel entrance, one grid point at a time
  • 3.5.1 Manipulating individual wire grid points
  • O. Building "First Route": shaping the river, and covering the underwater tunnel
    P. Building "First Route": making hills, mountains, and valleys with the "stamp"
  • 3.5.2 Manipulating collections of grid points with the "stamp"
    (Alter Terrain Height tool)
    3.5.3 Flattening (smoothing) terrain
    3.5.4 Controlling the width and slopes of the "stamp"
    (Alter Terrain Height tool)
    3.6 Water
  • Q. Building "First Route": adding objects along the tracks -
    names, signals, speed limits and mileposts
  • 3.7 Interactive track objects
    3.7.1 Platform and siding names
    3.7.2 Yard definitions
    3.7.3 Signals
    3.7.4 Speed limits
    3.7.5 Mileposts
    3.7.6 Deer
  • R. Building "First Route": adding objects, such as telephone poles, forests and bridges
    S. Building "First Route": adding roads, road traffic and level crossings
  • 3.8 Roads, road traffic and level crossings
    3.8.1 Laying roads
    3.8.2 Adding road traffic
    3.8.3 Adding level crossings
  • T. Building "First Route": changing terrain textures
  • 3.9 Importing and using terrain textures and transfers
    3.9.1 Importing terrain textures
    a) Changing the default green terrain texture
    b) Importing ALL terrain textures from default routes
    c) Importing SELECTED terrain textures from default routes
    3.9.2 Using terrain textures
    3.9.3 Importing transfers
    3.9.3 Using transfers
  • U. Building "First Route": importing and using objects - platforms and tunnel entrances
  • 3.10 Importing and using objects
    3.10.1 Importing objects from other routes
    a) Importing ALL objects from ONE default route
    b) Importing ALL objects from SEVERAL default routes
    c) Importing single objects
    d) Finding the corresponding texture files
    3.10.2 Placing or deleting an object
    3.10.3 Moving an object
    3.10.4 Rotating an object
    3.10.5 Moving or rotating a group of objects
    3.10.6 Copying and pasting objects
    3.10.7 Object detail level
    3.10.8 Object properties
    3.10.9 [NEW] Finding an object in the world files
    3.10.10 [NEW] Making new objects
  • 3.11 Tunnel entrances and underground structures
    3.11.1 An easy way out
    3.11.2 Proper tunnel entrances
    3.11.3 Underground structures
  • 3.12 Special objects
    3.12.1 Pickup objects
    3.12.2 Static locomotives and railway cars
    3.12.3 Other moving road vehicles
    3.12.4 Static road vehicles
    3.12.5 People and deer
    3.12.6 [NEW] Forests
  • V. Building "First Route": importing and using sounds
  • 3.13 Sounds
    3.13.1 Importing sound sources and sound regions
    a) Importing individual sounds from a default MSTS route
    b) Importing all sounds from a default MSTS route
    3.13.2 Placing sound sources
    3.13.3 Placing sound regions
  • W. Building "First Route": electrifying the route
  • 3.14 Electrification
    3.14.1 Declaring electrification
    3.14.2 Placing gantries
    3.14.3 The gantry.dat file
    3.14.4 Setting the height of gantries
  • 3.15 [NEW] Environment
    3.15.1 Managing the environment
    3.15.2 Sky
    a) Quick how to
    b) Structure of the sky
    c) Sky shape and textures
    d) Sky texture design
    e) Sun and moon
    f) Fog
    g) The sky details in the *.env files
    3.15.3 Water
    a) Quick how to
    b) What aspects of water can be changed?
    c) The water details in the *.env files
    d) An example of changed water
    3.15.4 Precipitation
    3.15.5 Wind
    3.15.6 Environmental examples in First Route
    3.15.7 Handling the conflict with Sky! Conductor
  • 4. Running tests in MSTS
    4.1 Need to use Activities
    4.2 Deleting existing Activities
    4.3 Creating new Activities
    4.4 Tests during running
    4.5 Main causes of problems
    4.6 Main solutions
    4.7 Visual scenery inspection
  • 5. The Activity Editor (AE)
    5.1 Uses of Activities
    5.2 Planning Activities
    5.3 Making a simple Activity
    5.4 [NEW] Manual vs. automatic switches
    5.5 [NEW] Signal location
    5.6 [NEW] The structure of activities
    5.7 [NEW] Discussion on First Route
    5.8 [NEW] Introductory Train Rides (ITRs)
  • 6. [NEW] Documentation and illustration
    6.1 Documentation
    6.1.1 Advert and thumbnail
    6.1.2 Route installation and information
    6.2 Front images
    6.2.1 Image conversion
    6.2.2 Logo
    6.2.3 Map screen
    6.2.4 Load screen
    6.3 Route Maps
  • 7. Distribution of Your Route
    7.1 [NEW] Route and file size
    7.2 Preparing the files to be distributed
    7.2.1 [NEW] Using the add-on freeware Route-Riter
    7.2.2 How MSTS organizes a new route
    7.2.3 Selecting the files to distribute
    7.3 Installation instructions for the end user
    7.3.1 [NEW] Automated method using Route-Riter
    7.3.2 Manual method
    7.4 Testing your installation instructions
  • 8. Renaming, Copying and Deleting Routes
    8.1 Renaming a route
    8.2 Copying a route
    8.3 Deleting a route
  • Appendix A. Route Editor Commands
  • Appendix B. Table of Available Track Sections
  • Appendix C. Table of Available Road Sections
  • Appendix D. Table of Slopes and Gradients
  • Appendix E. [NEW] Table of Degrees of Curvature
  • Appendix F. [NEW] Structure of a Route Folder
  • Appendix G. [NEW] Suggested Checklist for Route Building
  • Appendix H. [NEW] Changing and Making Texture Graphics
  • Appendix I. [NEW] Color Definition: Hexadecimal Code
  • Appendix J. [NEW] Controlling the Camera in MSTS