It's known as the underground in London, Subway in New York, the U-Bahn in Germany, the Metro in Italy, they all however share the same common goal - to transport people around the city partially underground and partially overground on a rail system. As of 2014 there are approximately 55 countries across the world which host 160 underground or metro systems. The London underground is the world's oldest having been constructed in 1863! The longest route is found in China on the Shanghai Metro and the system with the most stops is New York.
So which PC simulators are available which portray the Underground system, read on to find out more!
World of Subways Series
As the name suggests World of Subways by TML studios is the first simulator that comes to mind. They currently have 4 versions of the underground simulator. The first release was named World of Subways 1 - The Path.
World of Subways 1 - The Path, New Jersey to New York City, USA
The route is between New Jersey and New York City. The original route is almost equally split in underground and above ground sections. This simulator also puts a lot of emphasis on original physics of the train and wagons. The graphics at time of release were very good but passenger animation quite poor as they look like zombies. The game ran smoothly at high res on an i7 system with 2GB Nvidia GT755M processor. The controls are easy to setup.
The Fleet includes 3 trains, the PA2R, The PA3R and the PA4
Graphics are nicely done on the trains themselves, stations are nicely drawn but the passengers are too zombie like. There are too many passengers who look the same and they act like robots.
The sounds of the underground are captured authentically, the scraping of the wheels on metal as the trains go round a bend, the screeching of the brakes as it approaches the stations are all realistic and nicely recorded.
Controls are easily customised we found it easier to use the keyboard. However as per Raildriver website it's not included in the list of supported controllers. see here
World of Subways 2 - Berlin, Germany (back to top of page)
With a coverage of 31.8 km (19,8 miles) and 40 stations the U7 is not only the longest of all Berlin subway lines but also the line with the most stations and the longest journey time. You can even walk around stations using the WASD keys and explore each station. Also you have a number of camera options including the driver's cab, outside view and even passenger view! As well as being able to drive a schedule, you can also take part in various missions like moving through a water leak, controlling emergency exits,inspecting the train after hearing a loud bang with your flashlight even! So a variety of missions and scheduled timetables cater for both those who want to drive a schedule and those who like missions.
There are 2 Trains available in World of Subways 2.
The F series started of in 1974 as the (F74) and was continually developed from there. The F90 was built in 1990 and 1991. The structure and design of this vehicle compared to the H series is rather plain though it represents the timeless elegance of the 70´s and 80´s.
Manufacturer: ABB Henschel, The train can service in units of 2, 4 or 6 carriages
The H 01 is the most modern vehicle of the Berlin Underground system.This wide gauge train was built between 200 until 2002.Manufacturer: ABB Henschel, Adtranz, Bombardier. The H-train is usually serviced as a closed 6 unit train which allows a seemless transition between all cars for the passengers who can walk the whole length of the train (100 m) . This also allows the driver a better control of the passenger carriages and give the passenger a safety feeling.
Multiple options exist for adjusting graphics settings to suit your PC. You can adjust texture detail, visibility, motion blur, glowing effects amongst many other to fine tune its performance on your system. The graphics themselves look very polished, it ran flawlessly on our I7 System with 32GB Ram GTX 980 Card with no slowdowns or stuttering.
Authentic underground sounds whilst on the train itself as it travels through the tunnels to the echoing in the stations and the sounds of trains approaching the platforms. No issues at all with the sounds, excellent and very atmospheric.
As in World of Subways 1, controls can be customised to you liking, but unlike World of Subways 1 this version DOES support the Raildriver controller
World of Subways 3 - London Underground(back to top of page)
World of Subways covers the entire Circle Line .The line offers a length of 27km with 35 stations you can drive on a timetable as well as offering interesting missions. The circle line had not been built as a separate line, but was merged from different sections of the Metropolitan Line and the District Line. Only two short sections of this line are solely used by the Circle line. These sections are the connecting curves between the stations of High Street Kensington and Gloucester Road and between Aldgate and Tower Hill. World of Subways 3 includes a 3D cockpit and 35 Circle line Stations, as with World of Subways 2 you can walk around each station freely using the WASD keys as well as walk around the trains themselves. You can even board an AI train an be a passenger! In addition TML claim the physics are highly accurate and are based on values used in actual training simulations. Attention to detail such as programming the announcer at each station, setting the destination boards, turning on the air conditioning and passenger lights and more.
The graphics in our opinion are probably the best graphics of any underground simulator listed here. We believe they are just slight better than World of Subways 4 but not by much. Light reflections are realistic, night effects are authentic, rain falls on the windscreen as in real life. The blur of lights as you move through the tunnel makes you think you are travelling on a real underground. Great graphics.
Ambient sounds of the station, the sounds of the wheels on the track, the announcements at each station, the screeching of the brakes, the sound of the wipers on the windscreen, well says it all really. Realistic and no fault at all in this department.
Raildriver supported, controls can easily be set to your liking. Keyboard controls are easy to use and well laid out.
World of Subways 4 - Line 7 from Queens to Manhattan, New York , USA
BVE was originally called Boso View Express from Japan. Originally the view was only from inside the cab. BVE was developed by Takashi Kojima and started in 1963! Even though BVE itself cannot be customised ot modded additional routes and train cab views can be added via text based config files. Routes are available spanning the globe including routes from all major continents. There are currently 5 versions of BVE, the latest being BVE trainsim 5.
OpenBVE (back to top of page)
This program includes detailed per-car simulation of the brake systems, friction, air resistance, toppling and more. In 3D cabs, the driving experience is augmented with forces that shake your simulated body upon acceleration and braking, as well as in curves. Besides that, openBVE features a 3D positional sound system best enjoyed with surround speakers, train exteriors and timetables for the current run. Finally, via the main menu, routes and trains be easily selected to start a new session, the controls can be configured to keyboard or joystick devices, and a variety of options can be selected.
above London Undergroun for OpenBVE
Compared to other simulators of the genre, especially compared to commercial games, openBVE has its main focus on realism, not necessarily on user-friendliness. You should be willing to study operational manuals for the routes and trains you want to drive, and will in many cases not get along by just memorising a few keystrokes. If you can identify with this focus, openBVE might be the right simulator for you.
above Budapest, Hungary Metro Line 3
OpenBVE prides itself on realism, it includes highly detailed simulation of various aspects of systems including simulation of brake systems, friction, air resistance toppling and more! It also simulates forces on acceleration and braking, so plenty of realism for the serious train simmer. openBVE is an independently developed open-source train simulator. OpenBVE is free and open-source software. It was written from scratch and features support for external train views, animated 3D cab environments and animated scenery. OpenBVE makes use of OpenGL for rendering, as well as OpenAL for three-dimensional positional audio. OpenBVE is capable of running most BVE Trainsim routes correctly as well as support for additional features, including the exterior views, animated 3D cabs, and animated objects.
OpenBVE and BVE Routes (back to top of page)
There are many routes for OPENBVE, some are well documented , some are not. You also have to be aware that there are a few versions of BVE, OpenBVE and BVE 4,5 etc. Check if the route you download is compatible with the version you have.
As mentioned previously, the quality of the routes and trains vary from route to route, as a lot of the routes are freely available there is little control over the qaulity and release version. A good idea would be to check any youtube videos for the route you are looking for. We list a few below we found categorised under the various countries. We use OpenBVE ourselves and found that the London Routes work great. We havent checked all the route below with OpenBVE so cannot guarantee they will all work. You may have to use other versions of BVE.
The London Underground, one of the oldest underground systems in the work is well represented by OPENBVE, you can fins a lot of routes at this link : London BVE Tube. Routes include the Bakerloo, Central, District, DLR, East London, Hammersmith and City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Picadilly, Victoria and water loo and city lines. We reviewed some of these lines on our youtube channel and you can view them by clicking below:
London Bank to Waterloo
Notting Hill to Bank
Wordwide Routes for Openbve/BVE (back to top of page)
This varies depending on the route , some routes look amazing and some look quite basic. It heavily depends on the routes but its easily a match for any payware with the right route loaded!
OpenBVE featured 3D positional sound system and they state this is best enjoyed with surround sound speakers.
Again all the controls can easily be customised , an example of the control can be found here. Unfortunately it seems the hardware Raildriver controller does not support openbve at time of writing this article. for more information on Raildriver controllers go here.
MSTS & OpenRails
MSTS or Microsoft Train Simulator has been around since May 2001. It has a huge amount of addons available for it both free and payware. The community is huge and you can get many many routes for it. However some of the free routes and addons have terrible documentation and or assume the end user knows what to do and how to install it. Sometimes getting a route installed is a headache as you don't know what else is needed. For example you may download a route then realise it doesn't work, this is because it may need some other addon like X-Traxks or New Roads the documentation doesn't always mention this so best to check on the forums if you have any issues. UKtrainsim is a good place to start for downloads and help. Note that MSTS is not freeware and you do need to purchase a license to use the main program.
OpenRails on the other hand is freely available and you do no need to purchase a license and it also is able to run the many routes available for MSTS. you do need the files for MSTS but the added advantage of Open Rails is that you can run MSTS content as well as Open Rails own propriety routes and addons, so you get 2 train simulators for one! To use MSTS content with OpenRails, ensure you have MSTS installed then just set up the options to point to hte MSTS installation.
below Paris Metro for MSTS/Open Rails
MSTS/Open Rails Routes
USSR and Eastern Bloc
To conclude the main programs we found which portray the underground and metro lines on PC are World of Subways ,MSTS/OpenRails and Openbve/BVE. The advantage of openbve is it si free with many developers freely contributing to the community. The downside of openbve is compatibility issues with the various versions, no real quality control and a web of various links and resources which can be very confusing when trying to locate what you need. On the other side is World of Subways which is a payware product and has full manuals and updates. World of subways however have very limited routes, only 3 countries do far and 4 lines. This is quite limited so for people who want to drive metros in other countries you will need to look at OpenBVE/BVE. If any of you find any more routes that are not listed above,please let us know by sending us a message in the forums below marking it openbve routes.
Useful BVE/Openbve Links (back to top of page)
Browser based underground simulators
There are also some browser based underground simulators and these are actually quite entertaining and dont require high end PCs. Great for just passing the time. Below are the browser based simulators we checke out with links.