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I have created a long line of double tracks with stations along the way at each town.

Two stations in a line with one way lines connecting them

I have created four trains which run on this network. However my ratings are only 'Good' because whenever I look at the setup, all four trains have bunched up. To the point where two are in the station and the other two are waiting to enter.

I have set the orders just to visit the stations and not 'Full load'.

How can I ensure that my trains remain spaced evenly so that they do not all visit the same station at the same time?

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    For what it’s worth, real-life train networks put immense effort into trying to do this.
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 3:36

2 Answers 2

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On the top right of the Vehicle Orders dialogue, a "Timetable" button is available which will allow you to set a timetable for the vehicle. The timetable sets out the minimum time a vehicle is allowed to stay at a stop as well as the time allowed for the vehicle to move between stops.

This can help prevent bunching - rather than each vehicle moving to each subsequent stop as soon as possible, they will wait until it is time to do so. By building in a small buffer of time at each station to account for delays, just like real timetables, vehicles can run consistently to time.

It is important to ensure the timetable is realistic - the "Autofill" option can help to produce an initial timetable, by measuring one vehicle's travel time between stops and dwell time at stations, but an element of buffer time is important. For example, if the Autofill option measure a train taking 20 days to travel between two stations, it may be worth increasing that manually to 22 days if there is a busy junction outside the station. The timetable may also need to be adjusted further in the future, for example if passenger numbers increase then dwell time at stations will increase as more passengers need to be unloaded and loaded. Equally if older vehicles are replaced with newer, faster, vehicles then the time taken between stations will need to be decreased.

Vehicles that are running consistently late against the timetable will effectively revert to the current behaviour without a timetable - they'll only dwell at a station for as long as they have to for loading and unloading, then leave immediately. This will then lead to bunching again.

When vehicles use shared orders, timetables are also shared between those vehicles - although a vehicle's progression through the timetable is unique to it. In the past, vehicles had to be spaced manually when first introducing them and then the timetable would maintain that spacing. However, as of OpenTTD 1.4.0 an automatic spacing feature is available which can help to keep each vehicle spaced evenly apart. For this to work, it is still very important that the timetable is realistic and achievable - it's better to have some slack in the timetable (perhaps at a terminal station) than for the timetable to be overly lean and cause vehicles to almost always run late.

Further details about timetabling are available on the OpenTTD Manual.

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  • This should address congestion, but isn't there a risk of reducing profitability for trains? The wiki even explicitly states "Use it for things like buses; trains are better served by being instructed to wait for a full load".
    – MiG
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 22:43
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    @MiG, in general, yes, waiting for a full load is best for trains. But in the specific case of more than one train carrying passengers or mail and serving more than two stations, timetables are the better choice.
    – Mark
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 0:45
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You can put in a feeder line in that wraps around both stations, so that they enter on one side and exit on the other. That way they will patiently wait until a platform becomes available, and the trains leaving will never be blocked. The traffic lights will all have to be one way in both directions for this to work.

   /---------<--------<--------<--------<---------\
   \X========X-------->-------->--------X========X/

Legend: X is a crossing, = is the station, > is a one way traffic light, - is a single track with sufficient length for a full train and / are bends.

Between the X'es and each station I would put one way traffic lights for each platform on both sides, so that they can individually be loaded and unloaded. Station layout:

------>========>------
     \>========>/

The === are the station proper, directly adjacent to each platform are straight tracks with one way lights, followed by a crossing that connects both platforms to the incoming and outbound lines. This way, even if there's temporary congestion, the incoming trains will never lock up the system.

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    I'm not sure this will work as stations are connected at both ends with a crossing an one way tracks. So trains stop and continue on in the same direction. Will add a screenshot for clarity.
    – Neon1024
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 19:48
  • Ah, the schematics you drew first suggested a stand alone setup. In that case I would widen the stations (to three or four tracks) and set up the one way tracks above as a separate system. The number of platforms involved in this depends on how many trains you want to have going back and forth.
    – MiG
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 19:56

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