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I read that the payment for a delivery is multiplied with the distance. (Subquestion: does it mean the distance traveled or the direct distance?) Since the overhead of un/loading and repairs is constant, it seems to me that longer distances have a better win/cost ratio.

On the other hand, there are penalties for taking too much time. (Subquestion: do I get more time for longer ways?)

So my question is: for maximum profit, should I transport few goods across the entire map, or should I transport more goods on ways as short as possible?

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this page on the openttd wiki has most of the information: wiki.openttd.org/Cargo_income –  z - Sep 20 '13 at 19:42
It answered my subquestions (Manhattan distance between stations, fix time independent of length), but as far as I can see discusses only income per delivery, not income per time or investment. –  Arian Sep 20 '13 at 21:16
Time is a direct factor of distance vs speed, the charts at the bottom show that there's a curve that the income amount follows and this is based on the 'ontime' values of each individual resource. –  z - Sep 20 '13 at 21:45
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