Tip1: click the city name and check People line usage – I haven’t seen anyone mention this – when you click a city name you can see the city line coverage or what percentage of the population is using you routes. I played around with it and managed to get as high as 80% in some cities while others I can’t break the 40-50% barrier no matter what routes I lay.
I suspect this is an important yet overlooked game mechanic that has an impact on town growth – but I could find no documentation or even a post about it.
I try and balance the lines profitability with the people line usage – get the highest coverage you can but use as little vehicles as possible.
Tip2: make sure trains (also truck but less important ) make money when travelling both ways.
For people this is always the case – but for cargo unless you do it smartly – you can have big extensive trains travelling empty one way – a big waste.
tip3: prefer wood industry to coal or oil when possible. it uses the same carriage to carry wood and goods – so you can setup a 3 stop line (logs-city-sawmill) that will have cargo shipping in more than one direction.
Most useful when there’s a city next to the logs – you ship them out to the mill and bring back goods the way back. Harder to do efficiently whit coal or oil.
tip4: keep checking your lines
1st thing to check is income – if a train line is at minus $200K for example – most likely the line isn’t setup correctly. If you’re losing $400-500K – the line has most likely stopped completely. This can be hard to find once you get to 1950 or so.
Keep improving your lines: people in the 1850 will be willing to wait 10 minutes for a 15kph cart – in 1950 they will expect a fast bus – if you don’t upgrade the lines people will stop using them.
Don’t upgrade too much – the latest and fastest train is not always the right one. Consider operational cost of the loco you are buying as the most important factor.
A 1M per year loco is only going to be good for high utilization lines. Not the minor ones.
Overall game strategy (in order to stimulate region growth) – it’s important to have the region and its cities grow as fast and from as early as possible.
If you don’t grow the region there may not be enough people to ride the expensive lines later in the game and you will start losing money, fast.
Last but not least:
this is a great game. a real sandbox – every game starts very simple but ends up very complex.
I’m currently running at about $10M per year and it’s 1950 (accumulated 350M so far, med diff).