Trainz/Driver Mode Keyboard Shortcuts

This table was generated for TS12 but has held stable — as nearly identical, all the way back to UTC's release and up through TRS19 Platinum. Over the years there may have been a few keys added that are applicable only in newer Trainz releases. For example, high beam headlight switching and ditch-lights came about later. Most of the table has been common across all Trainz Versions after Trainz UTC (V-1.5), and only a few known keys were added after that date; such as the Camera Free Roaming External mode ('[4]' in V2.0 / TR04).  

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 Mouse use

Most driving relies on a combination of the left hand cross: A+S+D X W+S+X (which has a long, long history in active time-sensitive computer games) and the surrounding keys by rows: upper: Q+W+E+R and lower: Z+X+C+V+B.
  To be clear, these keys listed next, grouped to show action groups affiliations ARE those keys most BUSY, when Operating Driver:

{1  2  3  4  / W  S  & X  / E  / Z  A  & Q  / D  C  } whether shifted or shift-locked or small letters are what are needed for 97.5% of the time for all Driver tasks. The remainder generally just involve turning something on or off.


Understanding the layout edit

Trainz keys with related functional actions generally are vertical columns.

  • Along the top left of a QWERTY keyboard layout are the Camera Selection keys
    1+2+3+4 with internal/Cab-interior camera mode (1) using selection keys [ and ] to select (cycle through) alternative classed interior cameras.[note 1]
    '-'+'+' act on the external camera view of the 2nd camera viewpoint (2 ) and move the camera from car to car. Hit and hold either of these keys and the camera attachment point will shift to the next car, to the next car, to the next car behind or ahead respectively, at the same rate as your computer keyboard generates a next character when held down. Generally, this allows one to tear down the train at breakneck speed.
  • The main Brake/Axillary Brake controls Q+A+Z & E+d+D+C, where 'd' is not a standard key, implemented/active in only in a few legacy Locos. In scripts where the d, D key is used in dynamic braking, dS and DW.
  • The standardized dynamic braking triplett like in the real world prototypes reuses the throttle controls dincrease and Sdecrease for both throttle and dynamic braking settings, as controlled by C⇔toggle on/off dynamic braking.[note 2]
  • the throttle & directional throttle adjusts W+S+X & R+F+V are common to all Cab-mode driving sessions; understand F & R are only relevant in steam locos. Fmove collective forward one notch and dmove collective back.
Note that these are all the non-shift & Control keys on the left side of a QWERTY styled keyboard, and also the absence of T, Y and U in the top-row center. They have nothing assigned in standard DRIVER module active keys.
  • whilst the horizontally located keys of the middle and bottom rows G+H+J and B+N+M all have some common general control function
(though some only have function if one of the shift keys is also pressed)
or are more minor train controls (B for bell is not a terribly exciting key,
unless of course, if the noise is driving you or a loved one nuts! Which may lend enough urgency to finding it again that things get a wee bit exciting for a while!).


  • The least minor of these are N and ⇧ Shift+N blower controls which you need for Steam Engine's—at least for long runs...
  • and the very important J and Ctrl+J which 'toggle junctions' ahead and behind respectively (but are you far enough away? And Does the loco also think 'that-away' is also forwards or reverse?).


Historically, the earliest controls used in Trainz 1.x were solely the keys on the Keypad, but that was unpopular given the need for the right hand on the mouse, which is perhaps busy even more often. With UTC a file "\Settings\keyboard.txt" was introduced allowing user customization of the keys which have remained very stable since 2003 excepting adds supporting the introduction of new functional needs, which affected the old set only by adding to them. Until TANE arrived, the file keyboard.txt also allowed the user to customize his Surveyor and menus hotkeys as well as those useful in Driver. When TANE was written by a new software team, they broke with a lot of Trainz historic methods, such as Trainz settings files. Fortunately, they retained most historic functionality, but just moved it inside options menus. They were careful to retain most of the hotkeys constant within TANE/TRS19, except messed up the mini-map active hotkeys and display.

Note except for Steam Loco Driving, the so called keyboard leftside cross (W, S, X, A and E) comprise the most often used Driver keys, being those used for throttle control and the brakes. The Steam locomotive also heavily use F and R just to the right of the cross to operate the 'Collective', and train locomotives equipped with dynamic brakes use the C toggle.

  Also right of the main cross are somewhat less often used Auxiliary operations or support keys, C, V, B, N/↑N, H, J, M, I, O, P, L, ↑L, '\', 1, F5--F9, Alt_D, +/-, SPC, CTRL-J and ';' keys; but all are used pretty often in CAB mode, need triggered!  

These are action keys, but not all locos implement all of them; most of them are toggle actuators turning things on and off, incrementing things open or closed (I/O). Further some Locos feature internal Cabin lights, fans, and active controls such as windshield wipers:[note 3]


CAB mode factors edit

  • CAB mode involves two different user interfaces, mouse and/or key board — your choice, or mix the two.
    Firstly, moving your mouse pointer around the Cab will show certain popup labels, each affiliated with a depicted physical control from valve handles and gear shift. These can be seen moving in concert with Key Presses which will dominate the discussion herein, as the best way to get a handle on the CAB Mode handles, is to Click-and-drag on the physical control modeled, and move the mouse around until you figure out which is the best direction to slide the mouse, to get a specific effect.
  • The first thing to experiment with in a Loco Cab is the [ and ] keys, which toggle between Cab-linked 'Interior' Cameras. A disturbing number of these in new released Locomotives have been located 'outside the Cab' looking in particular directions, and generally being overdone by their mere presence, making the Loco harder to control in most cases. Five cameras, two forward, one on controls, and two looking back along either side of the Train seems best, for you can toggle rapidly through each and get to the one you need now in the shortest time, regardless of what 'next camera' the [ and ] keys toggle to next.
  • At the same time the user will want to Click and Hold a LMB to change the rotational and tilt adjustments of the particular cameras. (outside cameras usually do not allow both these luxuries.) Rolling the mouse wheel will zoom in or zoom out, as do the PageUp and PageDn. CTRL+] and CTRL+[ have a Fast Snap-To & Toggle function. Experiment a bit, you'll get it.
  • Many new Locos also have functional switches. Horns, Lights, Pantographs, even cab fans can often be controlled on depicted control panel 'button', 'knob', 'valve handle', and 'switch' simulations. Some of these are also actuated by hot keys as well, the train bell and horn, B and H respectively, come to mind.
  • The operational effect of the Arrow Keys will vary with whether 'Freeintcam' mode is On or Off. (More on that below, inside the table). When the mode is 'Freed Internal Cameras', the arrow key function is likely available by holding the Shift or Control keys; while the arrow keys can be used to relocate and reposition the mount location of the camera. Freeintcam is very popular; Sliding a camera to a new, perhaps ideal location will allow you to drive and see with maximum efficiency. Many actions in driving need be executed with alacrity, as most effects on motion are delayed in time, so position and speed often have to be anticipated.
  • There are two major sets of keyboard controls. One centered around S and one (the original Trainz 0.9 Beta release!) control keys centered around the Num-Pad-5. See the tables for details, and check your documentation. Even downloaded and installed Trainz releases may have a printable PDF file giving access to a Keyboard quick reference card.
Making things move...
  • There are 32 steps of acceleration and applied power in an electric locomotive,
  • but only eight in a diesel locomotive, Tip: but both like the Steam Locomotives, need not make too sudden a speed change or things break!
  • and hundreds of usable combinations of S + W (flow rate throttle) and R + F (cutoff angle key controls, a second throttle that is directional controlling the timing and position of the slide valves) for Steam Loco driving modes. The Steam controls are effectively continuous functions using the mouse to drag or push the inside the cab levers, which positions the keys values too, such that thereafter the keys increment or decrement values from those settings—until pegged at either the maximum or minimum stops.
  • Coupler breaking strength is measured in every Driver Session in the default physics, if not by a parameter in the session software. Part of the art of driving is to avoid creating whiplash to the last few cars in a consist, and the more obvious need to not slam together massive machines at excessive speeds, for both circumstances result in broken couplers, and no way to finish a particular mission. Breaking a coupler will generally cause a session to end, as does doing something creating a derailed traincar.
  • CAB mode has independent brakes for the locomotive (toggles with E--don't need with a DCC dial) and some loco's also have dynamic brakes (See the Manual, D & C are main controls, but... it's complicated... read the manual) Since TS12 came out, one of the tutorial gives an exercise in using dynamic brakes, albeit too briefly.
  • The CAB mode driver Heads up Display gives a lot of real estate to Pressure, whether in Pounds-per-square-inch 'psi' or the metric Kilo-Pascal 'kPa', there will be four pressure readings of interest reported:
    1) 'Brake Cylinder'—this is the force actually slowing traincar wheels up and down the train. Since this gauge shares proximity with the locomotive braking control valves, its overall system measuring value can be masked by using the 'Independent Brake' of the Locomotive, as it shows the highest number applied to either braking system. Trainz does not model separate gauges for each, at least not yet.
    2 'Brake Resevoir'—this is a big tank which provides the air to the brake hoses chaining each car to the ones before and after. Its maximum steady state pressure reading is the highest any gauge, or brake shoe can possibly experience. In the modeling, as in the real world, system pressures will in actuality remain a bit below that maximum. Its biggest importance, is letting one know the denominator for the other pressure readings, allowing one to eyeball a value and interpret it as a percentage of the maximum.
    3 'Equilizer Pressure'—This is actually a predictive instrument. Its value is an approximation of the value the driver may expect if he shuts off the brake-control-valve at the current moment (value observed).
    4 'Brake Pipe Pressure'—This instrument shows brake system pressure flow changes. The lower the value, the less change happening in the current drag acceleration factor in the simulator's motion equations.
  • Also, CAB mode has 'LAP brake modes'—he ability to partially apply brakes up and down the train so to better control speed on steep descents. Lapping brakes, like easing to a stop in an intersection also aids a lot in many coupling, switching, and/or loading operations; especially when combined with use of the independent brakes (which act quickly and are toggled by E) to stop the train with a timely bit of extra 'hard last moment braking'.
Alas, Trainz scripts kernel software governing loading and unloading have either set or released these general train brake settings in industry operations, so you have to reset the lap brakes each time you reposition the train—generally every NN traincars when the industries' track fills or empties NN cars at a time.
Feathering Braking Operations

 • The trick in such operations is to use timing between two somewhat rapid key presses:
very consistently learn to count and repeat the same interval — the same fraction of ('just') 2-3 seconds to toggle modes to achieve partial applied brakes (which have a big delay, longer with a longer train) by:

1) Applying Brakes A then using a short consistent 2—3 second interval (count one-one-thousand, two-one-...)
2) quickly switch to Brake Lapping mode using Z to achieve 'about-the-same' desired pressure (typically, 7–21 psi [48–144 kPa]) to provide the desired aid from increasing drag.
3) Each locomotive-consist combination have their own characteristics, so this is something to familiarize yourself with, and be aware of changes as the consist changes—during every driving stage. But this changeability is dominated by the modeling used in the Locomotive's enginespec config, so once you get used to its behavior, the minor changes of a few more or less cars will fall into place as yawn-worthy.
 • Practice, and being aware this sort of finesse skill is possible will get you started.
 • Trial and error, with maneuvers to the cautious side of adroit will get you confidence things are at your command.
 • Increased resistance in close, low speed operations such as coupling typically benefit most from the lower half-range of these pressures (9-14 psi/62-96 kPa), whilst making a steep descent may need upper values in the range, up to 28-30 psi/200 kPa to keep a descending heavy consist under control on steep terrains.
 • Coupling operations on an appreciable slope with a heavy train (e.g. Real World conditions building consists at a mine with full coal hoppers) may require a stiff partial pressure (20-30 psi) with 'wild' rapid applications of throttle changes (from 0 to 4, hold a bit, then decrease as close next sub-consist) to over come the drag, and also slow rapidly when nearing. Don't want to break any couplers!


  • Lastly, there are other CAB electronics simulated in the game and there is the capability to marry a control console to the game similar to the way many racing games and flight simulators allow true aficionados to add consoles.

General Control keys edit

We defer covering Driving/Operations keys for the common mode keys and Driver general game controls, placing the more complicated CAB mode down the bottom, whilst giving you the Table of Contents at right to get to it quick if you want.  

General Train Controls edit

KeyPad Key Keyboard Key Action
L Headlight
Shift+L Toggle Highbeam
; Toggle Ditch flashers On/Off
; Ditchlights[note 4]
KPad-1, KP_End,
Pantograph[note 5]
H Horn or Whistle
Sanders on/off toggle
(not DCC)
B Bell (generally obnoxious[note 6]
Map toggle
[note 7]
M is a Driver Only key.
P Pause! (the simulation); Since the TS releases, you can go around in free external camera mode and take a look at what is coming up ahead, or peer at upcoming track intersections with better sight!
Ctrl+F Find named Objects
Ctrl+D Toggle Decouple/couple mouse cursor tool interface.
Ctrl+1 Join/Jump to consist Loco of Driver 1
Ctrl+2 Join/Jump to consist Loco of Driver 2
Ctrl+3 Join/Jump to consist Loco of Driver 3
Ctrl+4 Join/Jump to consist Loco of Driver 4
Ctrl+5 Join/Jump to consist Loco of Driver 5
Ctrl+6 Join/Jump to consist Loco of Driver 6
Ctrl+7 Join/Jump to consist Loco of Driver 7
Ctrl+- Previous Driver (down#)
Ctrl+= Next Driver (up#)
↵ Enter Multiplayer Chat

HUD & Viewing controls edit

KeyPad Key Keyboard Key Action
5 Toggle Interface displays
(Hide or show all displays)
6 Toggle Driver Bar
7 Toggle Button Bar
8 Toggle Custom HUD
9 Toggle Controls

Camera Modes edit

1 Internal Camera
2 External Camera
3 Tracking Camera
4 Roaming Camera

In-Cab Camera edit

[ Camera - Previous View
] Camera - Next View
Ctrl+[ Camera Snap to Previous View
Ctrl+] Camera Snap to Next View

General Camera Controls edit

Up Arrow ↑ tilt Camera Upward
Down Arrow ↓ tilt Camera Downward
Left Arrow ← Rotate Camera Left*
Right Arrow → Rotate Camera Right*
Page Up Zoom In
Page Down Zoom Out

DCC mode and Easy Mode edit

DCC Mode or (TANE's new 'Easy Mode')
KeyPad Key Keyboard Key Action
X Decelerate/Reverse
W Accelerate/Forward
S All Stop
A Apply handbrake

Many DCC mode control keys use the same acceleration or slowing keys as those in the CAB modes:

  • By and large many Driver hotkeys work in both DCC and CAB mode doing similar jobs. Or, at least they work similar enough to recall and not be confused often. The 'W,S, X' 'power axis' is one example, excepting Steam Loco driving... wherein X does nothing, and S just decreases the 'Steam-dome input' throttle (Which has no negative value, just a zero stop—unlike 'S' in the other two types of Cabins, which cut power completely.
  • Some CAB mode keys only work on particular locomotive types, so for example, steam & Diesel-Electric & Electric locomotive controls F & R which operate the collective on a Steamer, and similarly shift the transmission on a diesel or electric powered locomotive (Forwards & Reverse) have no effect whatever in DCC (Easy Mode).

CAB Mode-common keys edit

KeyPad Key Keyboard Key Action
9 Q Brake Release
6 Z Brake Lap
3 A Brake Application
4 E Toggle Independent Brake[note 8]
0 D Independent Brake Bail
8 W Throttle Up
2 X Throttle Down
5 S Throttle 0
. F Reverser Handle Forward
/ R Reverser Handle Reverse
7 C Toggle Dynamic Brake
⇧ Shift+F Cabin Fans
Alt+, Wipers On
Alt+. Wipers Off
Pause/Break Emergency Brake[note 9]
Alt+9 Emergency Stop[note 10]

Steam Locomotive Controls edit

KeyPad Key Keyboard Key Action
KPad 1, KPEnd, End Toggle Firebox Door[note 11]
W Flow Throttle Increase Steam flow
S Flow Throttle Decrease Steam flow
F Increase
More Forward effort
(Forward Angles)
F Back
More Backwards effort
(Reversing Angles)
Shift+I Injector Up [note 12]
Shift+O Injector Down [note 13]
N Blower Up [note 14]
Shift+N Blower Down [note 15]
Space Shovel Coal [note 16]
Shift+Space Coalman Wave[note 17]
Alt+D Toggle Cylinder Drain Cocks
Steam Engines in effect have two throttle Valves, the Main throttle or Flow Throttle above gates and slows steam volume and regulates the rough inlet pressure to the Steam Dome.
 • The Slide Valves on each cylinder control (throttle) how much steam is routed into which side of the drive pistons, taking there input pressure and flow from the outlet of the steam dome, which is a reservoir designed to minimize pressure fluctuations.
 • The Slide Valves are controlled by the 'Collective' or 'Reverser', which might be a Lever, Wheel, or Pivot (Lever handle controls a hub, so a combination of both) control; but by whatever form, the collective or reverser is actively adjusted nearly every few dozen seconds, or every few minutes because the engineer positions it so often in order to actively to maintain a balance of motive force relative to changing terrain.

'Software dependent' controls edit

Software dependent' controls: The group of controls depend on (less commonly implemented) scripting interactions and so on having a Loco having the feature and scriptlets involved. In short, only some more modern Locos will have these at all.[note 18]
KeyPad Key Keyboard Key Action
T Reset Tripmeter[note 19]
Alt+0 Toggle Cabin master Switch[note 20]
Alt+\ Panel Lamp Test[note 20]
Alt+[ Engine On[note 20]
Alt+] Engine Off[note 20]
Alt+; Toggle Cabin Hardware 0 [note 21]
Alt+' Toggle Cabin Hardware 1 [note 22]

CAB Mode-Auto-warning systems edit

KeyPad Key Keyboard Key Action
Alt+~ Vigilance Foot Pedal
Alt+0 Toggle Cabin master Switch
Alt+Space Reset Automatic Warning System
Ins Reset Automatic Warning System
Alt+1 Isolate Automatic Warning System
Alt+2 Activate Automatic Warning System
Alt+3 Reset Train Protection Warning System
Alt+4 Isolate Train Protection Warning System
Alt+5 Activate Train Protection Warning System
Alt+6 Override Train Protection Warning System
Alt+7 Turn On Driver's Reminder Appliance
Alt+8 Turn Off Driver's Reminder Appliance
Alt+9 Emergency Stop


* Setting the 'freeintcam' switch parameter in trainzoptions.txt (TR04—TS12) or checking the clickbox with the same function (Freeing Internal Cameras) in TANE and after, changes the function of the keyboard arrows from rotate and tilt functions, to instead slide the camera position forward and back, or side to side. Freeintcam mode enables the user to move many cameras entirely outside the CAB or to a much better advantaged viewing (and mouse-controlling) angle.

Notes, Footnotes & References edit

Config.txt files are endemic and ever present in Trainz assets, for no asset can be defined without this type of Computer Science container. The keyword-value_of_key pairing must always be kept in mind in editing or creating Trainz content. The TrainzBaseSpec contains values and containers which are most common in asset defining config.txt files.  


  1. By Interior Classed Cameras--we mean the variable number and sometimes oddly placed viewpoint camera mounts that use attachment points referenced by the content creator's traincar specific script (bridge or glue) files and effects container references in the models main config file.
  2. The new Trainzer need only understand this. If either braking or throttle are active AND above the zero notch, the C key will do nothing (to switch modes the throttle or braking must be fully 'nothing') to toggle the transmission for the other mode.
  3. We made mention of Trainz being 'user extensible' on the first page. Since each loco class has its own interior the content creator putting the mesh together can include extra attachment points for such frills. With a custom script, they are integrated with Trainz run-time software and given vitality, usually by mouse actions. H-Horn / V-Sanders / C-Dynamic brake mode / M-Map On-off / L-headLights On-off / ↑L-High Beams Toggle / J-Junction Forward toggle / Ctrl_J-Junction behind / I&O are opposite valve rate adjusters-boiler feedwater / Alt_D-Toggle Drains / ';' Ditchlights toggle /
  4. Some jurisdictions in the USA require flashing ditchlights on a train not only moving, but powered up and able to move. As a general rule, ditchlights in Trainz will likely be found only on locos prototyping recently produced models. A new Trainzer might consider looking up a Loco model in Wikipedia when looking the route over (Qualifying oneself. Note--real operators have to qualify on a route, after many ride-alongs to familiarize themselves. Taking a 20-60 minutes to examine the layout and session processes can help beat a lot of Driver mode frustrations.
  5. Notice keys are dual use, valid for mutually exclusive modes.
  6. N3V keeps promising they're going to fix sound volume issues, but never get around to it.
  7. Map Toggle: Ctrl-M works for mini-map in Surveyor AND in Driver module.
  8. Use the Independent (Locomotive Only!) brake to 'fine tune' speeds, especially when conducting coupling and switching operations in which speeds generally needs to be less than 4-5 mph (~6-8 km/h). The 'Independent Brake' means its the brakes only of the Locomotive, not coupled to the rest of the train through the air brake system, hence they operate very rapidly compared to those of a long train.
  9. This Emergency Brake control really is only for emergency crash prevention. It is very unrealistic and has effect only in Driver.
  10. This Emergency Brake control really is only for emergency crash prevention.
  11. Toggle Firebox Door is not just so things run less noisy, but also effects heating of the water jacket. Blower has much better effect than with door open, so shut ASAP after adding coal. Watch effect in CAM=1 mode!
  12. Injector Up Forces feed water into the boiler to replace water loss with steam exhausted during expansion. Several hits opens valve more. Watch effect in CAM=1 mode!
     • Don't overfill past 80%, try to set to minimize water drop when running fast and toggle up for a short bit to maintain sight glass level.
  13. Injector Down Constricts feed water into the boiler to replace water loss with steam exhausted during expansion. Several hits shuts valve more. Watch effect in CAM=1 mode!
  14. Standard Steam Control since Trainz 1.3/UTC.
  15. Standard Steam Control since Trainz 1.3/UTC.
  16. Standard Steam Control since Trainz 1.3/UTC.
  17. Coalman Wave: Standard Steam Control since Trainz 1.3/UTC.
  18. Software dependent' controls: All the train controls depend upon scripts interactions, but these are less standard than those 'common controls' built-in since Trainz v1.3!
  19. Likely only some HUD displays! Try it now and again and see.
  20. a b c d Likely only some Loco cabs! Try it now and again and see.
  21. This 'Cabin Hardware nn' control is only for special equipment's and the Loco or Cab interior has to have matching TrainzScript files to do anything. So generally a 'has no effect' key!
  22. This 'Cabin Hardware nn' control "ditto"