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Train Simulator – The “my train doesn’t move” Checklist

Trying to get your train to move, but for some unknown reason it just won’t move? This guide provides a checklist of possible things that might be the cause.

Expert Controls

Many trains, especially the pro-range, may not work with simple controls. Go to the game settings to select Expert controls.


Manuals of each DLC can be found on the Steam store page, and should also be installed in your local game installation in the folder \SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\RailWorks\Manuals Always read the manuals if you’re experiencing problems.


1. Did a safety system trigger emergency brakes?
Was your train moving just fine but suddenly emergency brakes got triggered? This is most likely the cause of a safety system. Acknowledge any alerts going off, and be sure you to familiarize yourself with the safety systems. Emergency brake might also be the result of overspeeding or passing a red signal (known as “SPAD”, signal passed at danger). Most emergency systems require your train to come to a complete stop before allowing you to continue your journey.

2. Pantograph up / shoes down?
Electric trains need to be in contact with the power supply. Some trains may not have their pantographs set up by default. Raise your pantograph to make contact with overhead wires (catenary) or lower the shoes to make contact with powered third rail. The HUD uses the pantograph button for shoes. Most trains have a dashboard light to indicate they have contact with the power supply. Some trains are able to operate on multiple power sources.

3. Is the engine running? (Master key turned on?)
Not all trains have their engine running by default. Some may even require you to use a master key before allowing you to start the engine. On diesel engines you can usually hear the engine running or see if there’s any RPM listed. When unsure, you can try turning off the engine and starting it again. The HUD provides buttons for this but most trains have buttons somewhere in the cab too. The master key isn’t shown on the HUD and must be found somewhere in the cab. Some trains may have more complex starting procedures which are explained in the manual.

4. Reverser set to forward? (AWS acknowledged?)
The reverser needs to be set to forward (or reverse) in order to move your train. It’s usually set to neutral. Most British trains sound an AWS alert (Advanced Warning System) as soon as you try to move the reverser out of the neutral position. Be sure to acknowledge AWS (either by pressing Q, the button in the cab, or the button in the interface) to prevent the reverser being set to neutral again. Specific trains may have a more complex reverser that isn’t as simple as “reverse – neutral – forward”, in which case you best consult the manual.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_Warning_System for more information about how AWS is used in real life. Note that audible alerts can only be heard when you use camera 1 or shift-2.

5. All brakes released?
Train brake, locomotive brake and dynamic brake should all be released. The F4 HUD can display them all.

6. Handbrakes on wagons released?
Check the handbrakes on your locomotive and any wagons in your consist. Use the button on the HUD.

7. Enough brake pressure?
Train brakes are handled by air pressure, and depending on the length of your consist and the compressor capacity of your locomotive, it needs more or less time to build up enough pressure to release the brakes. Watch for any gauges in your cab to see if you see anything moving. European trains usually need 5 bar of pressure to fully release the brakes. On American freight trains especially, it can take a while to build up enough pressure. Note that emergency brakes usually release all the air pressure which further increases the time needed to build up sufficient air pressure again.

8. Are the doors closed?
Many passenger trains have a safety system to prevent you from moving while the doors are open. Check if the doors are properly closed. There may be audible alerts to notify the closing and locking procedure has been completed, or there may be a light on your dashboard (German trains usually use a light displaying a “T”). Trying to apply throttle too soon may lead to the safety system preventing you from using the throttle, so wait for the procedure to be fully completed.

9. Is DRA released?
DRA, or Driver’s reminder appliance, is common on British passenger trains. It’s a manual button in the cab which, when enabled, will prevent you from using the throttle. It often displays a red light. Be sure it’s disabled.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driver%27s_reminder_appliance for more information about how DRA works in real life.

10. Enough boiler pressure?
Steam engines need steam pressure in the boiler. Too little pressure and the train won’t have enough power to move. The HUD can tell you about the boiler pressure.

11. Enough fuel?
It’s unlikely but not impossible. Diesel engines need diesel in their tank and steam engines need coal (or another fuel) and water to generate steam pressure. Certain scenarios might want you to refuel before starting your journey. Specific trains might be battery operated, in which case they need enough battery power. Some trains may be able to operate on multiple power sources.

12. Set throttle to neutral and try again?
There are safety systems that prevent you from using the throttle while brakes are on or while doors are open. Perhaps you’ve been a little too fast in trying to throttle. Wait for brakes to be fully released and doors fully closed and locked. Set throttle to “neutral” or “off” and try again.

13. Too little or too much throttle?
Being too careful with throttle may result in having insufficient power to get a train to move. You should still see RPM or Amps going up. Being too careless with throttle may result in the engine stalling. Old electric engines are also prone to this. Additionally there may be a system to cut off throttle whenever wheelslip occurs. You may need to reset the throttle to “off” or “neutral” before attempting to apply power again. Use the sander to reduce wheelslip.

14. Did you read the manual?
I’m out of ideas. If the above steps didn’t make your train move, you best consult the manual. If reading the manual doesn’t fix it, you might want to post your problem at the community forums. There’s always a chance something is bugged.

Written by Purno

2 thoughts on “Train Simulator – The “my train doesn’t move” Checklist”

  1. I looked everywhere for someone to make this list. Thank you a hundred times over. I like trains but I don’t know how to drive em. Thanks for putting in the time, all abooooard!


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