As a fellow train enthusiast, I‘m sure you‘ve heard about Train Simulator Classic and wondered – is this incredibly realistic simulator available for free? Or does experiencing all those detailed locomotives and routes come at a cost?
Well my friend, that‘s exactly what we‘ll be exploring today! I‘ve done some deep research into Train Simulator Classic, the additional downloadable content, and what free options are out there. Get ready for price comparisons, tips on scoring free DLC, and a look at alternative free train simulators.
So First Thing‘s First – Is Train Simulator Classic Itself Free?
The short answer is:
No, Train Simulator Classic requires an upfront purchase.
As of right now, there are two main purchasing options available on Steam:
Standard Edition – $29.99 USD. This base package includes three routes and around 10 trains.
Deluxe Edition – $44.99 USD. You get the base game plus an extra 8 routes, 30 trains, and 8 scenarios with this bundle.
So at minimum, you‘re looking at spending $29.99 USD in order to play Train Simulator Classic at all.
Once purchased though, you do get access to a small amount of free DLC content. This includes a couple of routes and trains offered for free on Steam:
North Jersey Coast Line – Amtrak passenger route along the coast of New Jersey
Riviera Line – Scenic British railway line
BR Class 31 – British Railways diesel engine
Union Pearson Express – Commuter train line in Toronto
But besides those few freebies, the vast majority of Train Simulator Classic‘s extra content – featuring tons of highly detailed trains, routes, and scenarios – requires additional paid DLC purchases.
We‘ll get more into scoring that DLC for free a little later!
Okay, So Are There ANY Good, Completely Free Train Simulators Then?
I know that $29.99 upfront cost might be too much for some budgets. The good news is there are in fact some great free train simulation options for PC and mobile!
I‘ve dug up the best of the free train simulators out there:
Open Rails is a free and open source train simulator for PC that emerged from the Microsoft Train Simulator community.
It features realistic physics, operations, and content all created by hobbyists in the community itself. With Open Rails you can:
- Operate trains on routes built for Microsoft Train Simulator
- Experience realistic train physics and operations
- Download tons of free community created content
Here‘s a quick pro/con breakdown:
- 100% free download
- Huge library of free community created content
- Realistic simulation and physics
- Outdated graphics (built on old Microsoft Train Simulator engine)
- No official licensed content
- Less detail than Train Simulator Classic
So while the graphics are dated, Open Rails provides a free, realistic simulator with community content. Well worth a try!
City Train Simulator
City Train Simulator on Steam offers a more casual, arcade-style train sim experience focused on metro trains and light rail.
The base game is 100% free to download and includes:
- 2 detailed metro trains
- 2 metro rail networks to operate on
It‘s a simple but surprisingly fun free train simulator. Let‘s break it down:
- 100% free to download on Steam
- Easy to pickup and play
- Very small download size
- Simplistic simulation and physics
- Limited content in free version
- Dated graphics
While not realistic, City Train Simulator scratches the train driving itch for free!
Mobile Train Simulators
There‘s a handful of decent free mobile train simulator options for iOS and Android too:
Train Simulator 2 – Drive trains across Europe with basic controls. Ad supported.
Train Simulator 2021 – Simulate various locomotives with basic controls. Ad supported.
Metro Train Simulator – Drive metro trains on a large urban subway system. Ad supported.
These provide quick, arcade-style train simulations completely free. Though they contain ads and in-app purchases.
The Takeaway on Free Options?
While the free train simulators come with limitations, whether it‘s dated graphics or basic simulation, they can still provide plenty of fun for $0!
But for the most realistic and immersive simulation packed with tons of detailed content, Train Simulator Classic can‘t be beat – albeit at a cost.
For PC, I‘d say Open Rails gives you the most realistic free experience thanks to the accurate simulation model. And the mobile apps are great for casual free simulation on the go.
Diving Into the Train Simulator Classic DLC – What‘s Available for Free?
As I mentioned earlier, most of the extra content for Train Simulator Classic – featuring tons of highly detailed locomotives, routes, and scenarios – requires paid DLC purchases.
Some examples of paid DLC packs include:
Routes – Such as complex recreations of real-life networks like Union Pacific or the German high speed rail system. These range from $14.99 to $29.99.
Locomotives – Highly detailed recreations of real trains like the British Rail Class 90, Amtrak‘s F59PH, or the SNCF TGV Duplex. Prices range from $9.99 to $29.99.
Scenarios – Structured gameplay packages that place you in specific situations and objectives. Usually around $7.99 to $14.99.
But once in awhile, Dovetail Games does make select DLC available for free for limited periods:
- For special occasions like Christmas or National Train Day.
- To promote a new paid DLC release – it may be free for the first couple weeks.
- Random giveaways and promotions throughout the year.
Dovetail announces these free DLC deals through:
It‘s worth checking those occasionally to try and scoop up free content when you can!
There‘s also a small amount of free additional content created by the Train Simulator community itself available, like on sites such as:
The quality and scope varies wildly though when it comes to community content.
You may also occasionally find Train Simulator Classic bundles, packs and sales on sites like:
Which can get you DLC for cheaper than normal! Not free, but significatn discounts if you keep an eye out.
And finally, there are Train Simulator communities that do giveaways for DLC codes, like:
Your chances of scoring free DLC codes is low, but hey, it‘s worth entering right?!
How Does Train Simulator Classic Compare to Other Simulators Like Trainz or Run 8?
If you‘re new to train simulation games, it can be confusing looking at all the options out there like Trainz Simulator, Run 8, Train Sim World, and so on.
So let‘s break down how some of the most popular train simulation alternatives compare to Train Simulator Classic:
Train Sim World
Train Sim World is the newest train simulator made by Dovetail Games using the Unreal 4 engine. Here‘s how it compares:
State-of-the-art graphics – Thanks to Unreal 4, Train Sim World looks incredible with realistic environments, weather effects, and more. Train Sim Classic‘s graphics are dated in comparison.
Focus on operations – Train Sim World is all about teaching operational processes like switch throwing, signaling, and dispatch procedures in a structured career mode. Train Sim Classic is more of an open sandbox focused on driving trains.
Multiplayer – Train Sim World has live multiplayer as well as asynchronous challenges with other players. Limited MP options in Train Sim Classic.
No user-created content – Due to the proprietary engine, players can‘t create their own content as they can with Train Sim Classic‘s modding tools.
Overall, Train Sim World delivers a guided, structured learning experience in beautiful Unreal 4 graphics. Train Sim Classic offers more freedom and access to thousands of community mods.
Run 8 is a hardcore American freight train simulator known for its insanely realistic simulation physics. Compared to Train Sim Classic:
Next level realism – Run 8 sets the benchmark for simulation accuracy int he genre thanks to its custom physics engine.
Operations focused – Refueling, building trains, converting units – Run 8 specializes in replicating detailed American-style freight operations.
North AmericanPrototype models – Train Sim Classic features a more globally diverse selection of stock. Run 8 focuses just on US and Canadian prototype.
Multiplayer – Run 8 has competitive and cooperative online multiplayer for operating trains with others.
Run 8 is the ultimate simulator for realistic US freight train operations. But it excels specifically in that niche.
Trainz Simulator is another long running train sim franchise. Key differences include:
Build your own routes – Trainz includes extensive route building tools missing in Train Sim Classic.
Multiplayer – Drive trains together in cooperative multiplayer sessions.
Lower priced – Trainz 22 base package is $39.99 vs $29.99 for Train Sim Classic‘s Standard Edition.
Less content – Trainz ships with smaller libraries of built-in and DLC content compared to Train Sim Classic‘s huge selection.
Trainz appeals more to players looking to design their own custom routes and sessions. Train Sim Classic is unmatched in its volume of detailed stock content.
So in summary – Train Sim Classic strikes a balance of realistic simulation, tons of content, and modding tools that sets it apart from competitors!
Tips for New Conductors Getting Started with Train Sim Classic
If you‘re new to Train Simulator Classic, here are some tips to quickly get up to speed:
Do the built-in training tutorials – they cover the basics of operating the trains, signals, systems, and controls. Crucial fundamentals!
Use the external camera views – The default interior cab view can be disorienting at first. The external views help you better understand what‘s going on around you.
Try Quick Drive mode – Quick Drive lets you instantly setup and operate trains without the complexities of a full career mode. It‘s a nice easy way to explore routes and stock.
Master one route at a time– Fully learn the operations on one route before moving to others. Jumping around is confusing.
Use slower time compression – When just starting out, slow down the simulation speed. Things happen more gradually and it‘s easier to react and control the trains.
Learn real railway operating rules– Following prototypical railway procedures enhances realism and immersion.
Join multiplayer sessions – Playing with experienced players is a great opportunity to observe and learn proper operating techniques.
Watch YouTube tutorials – There are some fantastic Train Sim Classic tutorial channels that teach you how to operate the trains, signals, switches, and more.
Install mods – The Steam Workshop offers thousands of community mods that can expand your experience.
Have patience! – Mastering the simulator requires putting in time and practice. But the payoff of operating the trains like a real engineer is incredibly rewarding.
Even with just the base game, there‘s hundreds of hours of engaging training and simulation available. Using these tips will help new players get driving like pros!
Final Takeaway – Is Train Simulator Classic Worth the Cost?
At the end of the day, while limited free options are out there, Train Simulator Classic still delivers the premier immersive train simulation experience on PC.
The level of realistic operation, smooth graphics, expansive library of highly detailed stock content, and thriving community just can‘t be matched.
Yes, you have to pay an initial $30-45 USD for the base package. And most additional content comes via paid DLC.
But for diehard train enthusiasts seeking the most content-rich and realistic simulation possible, Train Simulator Classic is absolutely worth the investment. There‘s a reason it remains the best selling and most popular train simulator for over 10 years running!
Well my friend, that covers everything I‘ve been able to dig up on Train Simulator Classic‘s pricing, DLC options, and how it compares to other simulators. I hope this guide helps explain exactly what‘s available for free versus paid, as well as tips to get the most out of this incredible simulator!
Let me know if you have any other questions!