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Fundamentals for Trainz Trainees
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Contributing author: fabartus



Surveyor is the built-in world editing tool of the three Trainz Graphical user interface operating environments. Like the Windows application Content Manager the three GUIs draw on the Trainz local data base for asset information. Most versions of Trainz include the Surveyor module - the notable exceptions are the few "driver only" introductory products such as the 2005 release Trainz Driver. The Route and Session Creation pages provides planning details on the fine points of how build routes and their associated gameplay sessions using Surveyor, whereas this module will focus on learning the basics with a number of projects and many situational examples of operations--things you can use immediately and build upon as we introduce more challenges. This book's authors have no intention of rehashing things you can learn by reading and rereading the basics from the excellent Trainz pdf manuals. We strongly suggest having yours printed (and it's there, even in downloaded-No DVD versions!) and reading through it during toilet time, if not otherwise. Many of us flew the program with such a copy right beside us to learn what we hope to ease you learning! With a series of tasks, demo, document and then have you do, you should learn capabilities and operations very quickly—and memorizing things like hotkeys will be natural from using them.

Editor's note: We think this is the best way of how to get skilled so you can fly on making your own dream railway with a different method than the manual or the HowTo Snippets of the N3V wiki (which we'll be linking to and then augmenting): after a bit of setup info, we're going to provide some projects and start you out modifying a stock route the way most of us learned to get good with Surveyor.


Surveyor menus

At right, Trainz 1.0 'first-ever' modest 3 boards route map seen from 'Surveyor Menu'
which (left and center) also showed a map view of the selected routes' Trainz map boards in the Driver and Sessions menus—and this menuing design suffices to show just how the early design thinking was oriented to the model railroading community and the typical size of a practical Basement Railroad Empire style layout!

 • Trainz 'consists' had to be built, selected, and then manually placed onto the map on trackmarks which were visible in the Driver menu.
 • This 3 board Basement Empire style route, named 'Australia', was not renamed but added to so was doubled in size and modified as 'Australia 2' for a Scenario in Trainz UTC and then used as the renamed 'Australia Outback' map released by Auran in its first ever Driver's Steam Engine tutorial (Session) within TRS2004.

The main Trainz GUI menus changed significantly with the advent of TS10, in effect combining things a bit differently and still proving the same functions. Railyard was exclusively accessed using the Main Menu,...

Tool Tabs and modes


Surveyor has seven major tools that are accessible via hot key combinations and mouse click combinations and from the earliest Trainz Beta 0.9 release until the latest, these differ only in the sixth tab which until layers were introduced in TS2010 was for World control settings like clouds, water appearance, season of the year, time of day and the world origin. Most of these are intermediate controls that for now either will already be set up (since we're going to have you (1) Look, (2) modify, (3) learn-by-doing ... not start by creating your assets from scratch, in the time honored Trainz tradition.)

  • For now suffice it to say the world controls have been moved off the F6 tab and put into the surveyor options menu in favor of a new powerful mode tool, the Layer association tab/tool on the F6 tab instead.
  • This tool let's the user associate assets on either a session definition (Navigation waypoints called trackmarks, things a session Rule might test like triggers and rolling stock in consists) which are integral to making up a given scenarios needs) or on the 'route/map/layout' (track, scenery items, landscape features, interactive industries like train stations, yards, switching, and so on and so on).


Trainz Community tutorials

The Trainz community is international and we would be remiss if we didn't point out that there is much to be learned from selfless Trainzers who have put together educational tutorials ahead of our efforts. Since both the user interface (UI) and the capabilities in Trainz modules (which have remained markedly stable!) have evolved only slowly many tutorials written for Trainz from the earliest days still have much to teach the newcomer and experienced Trainzers alike.

Please enjoy mining these gems for the many golden nuggets and insights they contain:

  1. HOW TO SIGNAL AHEAD OF A LIFT BRIDGE, By Jytte Christrup —Step by Step Surveyor tutorial on signaling.
  2. Track Laying and Troubleshooting, By Chuck Brite, "A Tutorial For New Train Simulator Surveyors" —About a dozen Step by Step Surveyor how-to tutorials


Editable Items

The first thing to realize is Trainz protects you from boneheaded gaffs, and will automatically clone a built-in route should you enter one and modify it. Thereafter, it will be listed in your local content in CM with your own Trainz KUID as part of its identifier. This forced SAVE AS protects you from overwriting the release version's stock content.
  • It does not protect you from over writing yourself. Do a save as BEFORE making major changes to your route and practice suffixing a version to the name. You can weed them out later as per Removing Unwanted Assets.

In the below, certain groups of tools have hotkeys, which are accessed using F1F7 which have had the same main functions since Trainz_0.9 (Beta) until TS10 relocated the F6 Environment controls and replaced them in the World building GUI mode with the Layers Tab (see below for layer details). As a concurrent improvement, the main menu in Driver and Surveyor have access to the environment allowing a user with a few clicks to drive a session under very different conditions including time and date, giving variations of seasons, weather, day-and-night, etc. broadening the variations and enjoyment a single session might give in Driver.

Surveyor allows the manipulation of the following aspects of the game:

  • Routes —map building and model detailing to potentially absurd degrees of game slowing over-doing it.
  • One of the biggest factors affecting data throughput, or frame rates (game display and smoothness of operation) is how many different asset varieties are used in its construction. The less the better for frame rates, as cautioned[note 1] prominently[1] in the Surveyor section introductions going back to the original Trainz.
This is a partial list in lieu of the more comprehensive coverage below of Surveyor tools and hotkeys:
  • Ground Height
  • Ground Textures
  • Water
  • Route Layers (see below for layer details)
  • Tracks and track related (Trackside) objects (
  • Sessions
  • Environmental Conditions (initial) - Newer releases let user customize in session
  • Many new Session Rules (50 included with TRS2006 release, many more now on DLS)
  • Session Layers (see below for layer details)
  • Customised ability to define Initial Junction Directions
  • Customised ability to define Map Object Properties (e.g. searchable names on a locale or building)
  • Per-Layer — Since TS10 many digital objects which were once by necessity bound and defined solely in the map part of the simulation—before they could be accessed using Trainz rules references in Trainz sessions which glue together gameplay software interfaces with objects and the sessions giving the interactive play to sessions— have through the introduction of layers now enabled a base map definition to have the variations in capabilities and even placed visible interactive content with their new ability to have their definitions inside a session layer'. Prior to this routes had to hold all the key elements needed by a particular session or a family of sessions built on the map, which at one and the same time, would clutter up a route and limit its flexibility and that of the appropriate sessions which could be built upon the map.
Chopped surveyor screen, shows Picklist Window (lower middle-left) with Surveyor Filter (above left) overriding the data base's display of the various Surveyor Tool Tabs objects select panes. Excepting the appropos F3 (scenery objects tools) a similar result would likely be evinced in all the tool tabs, with selection panes (F2 F4 & F7)-depending upon the mapping of the word choice in the Search filter.
  • Map Objects (Scenery, etc.)
  • Scenery Splines
  • Track
  • Trackside Objects
  • Trains

Content Search Filter[note 2] is a powerful tool that allows you to selectively filter the items you want to find.

The Content Filter is opened by clicking on the Funnel Icon on the top menubar, which also accesses the picklist window in more recent releases.

For example, typing "red" in the Surveyor Filter Window will then show only items containing the letters "red" in the various Surveyor Tool Tabs objects select panes, part of the Trainz tools and asset selection panels on the right hand side. Typing 'signal' lists only signal containing titles in the objects select pane, which if you go to use F7 (Trainz and Consists) will likely give a list on the right containing NONE, as seen in the similar example at right where stations hides selections in ! The filter always overrides the Tabs contents at the right.

Don't forget to reset (Clear) your filter when you have found what you are looking for. Discussion of the button controls will be on a page about the filters.


  1. Trainz pdf manuals, for example TRS2004's "Signaling Guide.pdf" and "World Builders Guide.pdf" and the extensive "TRS2006 manual", among others, including the Trainz 1.x era *.doc file references.