I have been playing this game since it was available and i am strugeling to gain a profit.
I have been playing this for only a few days and am now in the mid 21st century with over $200m in the bank! However, the first few tries I was just like you, the point is, its a challenge and you have to be able to identify supply and demand. If it was simply Build line – Auto get money – Build more lines – Auto get tons of money……. it wouldn’t be much of a ‘game’ would it? You’d just basically have a virtual trainset.
Here is my strategy and it seems to work really well. Start the game, click the bottom right icon that shows you the goods traffic, BUILD NOTHING, then click fast forward and wait at LEAST 1 year. then pause the game and have a good look around the landscape and you’ll see where goods and supplies are flowing well down country roads. Then, you have a good indication of the supply and demand chain and where to build a profitable line / truck / waggon route. This will get you a-started and give you a nice annual income. Then, the towns that are newly boosted by the extra goods your first line or two is bringing in should be given a passenger line to help bring in workers / shoppers to further aid growth. Pretty soon you’ll find that line is making loads of cash and you’ll be on your way.
A minus is, that you can’t experiment, because there’s no ‘cheat mode’.
Yes you can. The game saves every year anyway and you can of course save manually as well. So start building a new line after a save and if it turns out to be a mistake, quit, reload the last good save and you can try something else.