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I'm just getting into this game and I've built a basic coal to power plant train delivery system. I'm curious, since power plants can accept an unlimited amount of coal, is there any reason to deliver coal to multiple plants instead of delivering all the coal to one?

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While there are mods available that add mechanics regulating the demand side (that means, adding limits to the amount of coal for example, that a power plant can process in a certain timespan), in vanilla OpenTTD any processing plant can process unlimited amounts of goods.

However, delivering the goods to the most distant plant will yield the maximum amount of profits, so you might need to supply more than a single one. There is an in-game chart that shows the profit per good by (days in transit vs. distance travelled), and you can see that especially coal profits a lot from large distances.

Normally, you would start building around a single plant, and connect multiple mines to that, in order to reuse existing infrastructure. Then later re-route trains to go to different power plants that have a larger distance.

As Private Pansy correctly mentions, in the late game you need to optimize your track layout in order to get it more efficient. That means removing any "wait until fully loaded" orders and usually packing your tracks with the maximum amount of trains affordable. This is less important for coal, but highly important for other goods (say, fruits in the desert setting).

  • "delivering the goods to the most distant plant will yield the maximum amount of profits" this is not necessarily true - if you look at the chart you yourself referred to, many goods have cutoff time where the price paid would start declining sharply, so it is not necessarily in your best interest to deliver to the furthest destination. Also, not all distances are equal in terms of cost of building and maintaining the infrastructure. Efficiency in terms of cost per distance is usually far more important goal to reach for than purely distance. – Private Pansy Dec 16 '15 at 8:37
  • I kind of agree with that, but unless your network is really clogged, distance is the primary goal to be achieved. You may have a super efficient economy going across say 20 tiles but it will not outperform yield coming from a single train travelling across the map. When you get to the point of having 10+ trains on one track, then the efficiency takes over. Usually a stupid two-way track with a secondary resource delivery network (usualy cars) will do a splendid job. Then again, I hardly ever win the goal, so bear with me. – antipattern Dec 17 '15 at 22:14
  • Also I was referring to the coal part of the chart (as the question implied) and that really has a very slooooow cutoff. – antipattern Dec 17 '15 at 22:21

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