Installing MSTS On A Windows XP PC
by Yuri Sos


Don't you just love this pop-up screen?

Whether you're installing MSTS for the first time or, as many of us seem to, for the umpteenth time, this checklist of the basic "essential" steps will get your MSTS installation "back on the tracks" in a minimum of time with a minimum of frustration.  It is not intended to be a full list of available utilities, patches, physics upgrades and fixes, but rather just the basic necessities that you should consider immediately after (re)installing MSTS.  Feedback is always welcome: email me.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that whenever you see the screenshot above, you should re-install MSTS, but sometimes there is no other way to correct some of MSTS' weirdnesses that crop up from time to time (for example, my last failure was that MSTS stopped recognising electric locomotives - it didn't matter whether they were default or add-ons, they simply were not recognised by the game).

I know that theoretically you'll never have to re-install MSTS once installed (yet look at the registry hacks and other fixes that abound on the 'Net) but you sometimes need to consider the amount of time that you can spend time trying to work out which add-on caused the problem: at some point it becomes more time-effective to re-install MSTS than to continue to chase every rabbit down every burrow.

Ok, let's get started. (By the way, if you're using Internet Explorer 8 or higher, select "Compatibility View" to ensure correct display).

If you're using Windows 7 (or Vista), read Installing MSTS on a Windows 7 PC.


Uninstalling your old MSTS

If you're going to uninstall (I recommend uninstall then re-install) your MSTS, move all your non-default routes away from your MSTS\Routes folder BEFORE uninstalling.>/p>

Leaving them in the \Routes subfolder and re-installing MSTS seems to corrupt non-default routes (you end up with tracks and objects, but no terrain at least or an unusable route at worst - believe me..... I've been there, done that, torn my hair out!!).

EDIT/UPDATE: I used to say here "I also move my TRAINSET folder and CONSISTS folder, but I've not seen them corrupted in a re-install."

I had occasion to re-install an MSTS on an XP SP3 machine and found that many items of rolling stock no longer functioned properly - missing .S files, textures, etc. I went back to an old XP SP2 machine and performed an experimental re-install and the TRAINS folder survived the re-install. So on my machines at least, you can get corruption of existing rolling stock folder contents if using XP SP3 or higher.

On the basis of that, I've changed my mind: the advice now is "Move away your TRAINS folder if you want to keep rolling stock intact.". It's better to be safe than sorry.

Uninstall MSTS via "Add/Remove Programs" in Control Panel, then use Explorer to delete any residual MSTS folders (anything you've added to the installation needs to be manually deleted). These two steps should clear the registry as well as the hard drive.



Rather than installing to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Train Simulator, you might like to consider installing MSTS to another folder or even drive, say, D:\1MSTS where D: is your target drive - naming the folder thus will cause it to rise to the top of your folder listing in Explorer and is a lot easier to type into "Save" dialogues.

Installing MSTS to a folder OUTSIDE "Program Files" will also lessen the grief of using MSTS with Vista and Windows 7 as these OSs "protect" (ie interfere with the modification and installation of) files in the Program Files folder: often leading to errors with batch files running and activities unpacking.

The following five images show you the way:


Install MSTS Updates

Install the MSTS updates to update MSTS 1.0 to patch v1.4 if you have an early version of MSTS.

To see which version of MSTS you have, look in your TRAINSET folder: if you have the SD402 or Class50 inter alia you already have v1.4: see image below.

Alternatively, right-click on train.exe and select "Properties" from the menu: you should see this:

MSTS Properties

From the MSTS Downloads Page site, install the three EXE files to bring your installation up to date.


Avoid The Need For A CD In The Drive

If you've purchased and installed MSTS from CD recently, you will already have v1.4 on the CD: you'll find you are required to "insert CD in drive" for MSTS to work. Run the 1.4 web-based train_exe_update (above) and you'll no longer need to have CD2 in the drive. Simple fix, eh?


Rename Uninstal.exe

Rename Uninstal.exe to MSTS_Uninstal.exe.  Do this now BEFORE installing anything else (after the updates). This is because there are several incompetently prepared installers of downloadable models out there:  one of the most common errors in these installers is to include an uninstal.exe file and install it into your MSTS folder, overwriting the default uninstal.exe.  This step protects you from this eventuality.

(If you need to uninstall MSTS, delete any rogue Uninstal.exe and rename MSTS_Uninstal.exe back to Uninstal.exe: you can then uninstall by double-clicking on the Uninstal.exe file or via "Add/Remove Programs" in Control Panel).

Here's an example of an uninstal.exe that appeared on my system (note that the date of uninstal.exe is three and half years newer than the original and renamed MSTS_Uninstal.exe.

Rogue uninstal.exe

This uninstaller was placed there by an add-on sound set.


Copy The TechDocs

Now before you put away your MSTS disks, browse to the Techdocs folder on CD1

and run Techdocs.exe,

unzipping all files into a Techdocs folder in your MSTS installation.

You now have all of the MSTS reference files close at hand.


Make A Copy Of Your Global Folder

Make a copy of your "Global" folder: click on the folder name and Click Copy then Paste.

Now you have a "Copy of Global" folder: if worst comes to worst, this can be used to bring your Global folder back to an installation default.


Delete startup.mpg

Get rid of the startup sound and image .mpg: it slows down program loading.

In explorer, browse to your MSTS\Global\folder: rename startup.mpg to startup.mpg.old; you can even delete it without any ill-effects on your MSTS installation. The presence of this start-up video file is responsible for many "Keyboard Stops Responding" errors, so eliminating it from start-up removes another source of error.


Expand Your Selection Lists in MSTS

Picking a train to drive in MSTS can be difficult because the default list of trains is only four lines long and hard to navigate. It's the same for consists, stations, and the time of day.

There is a fix for this - see image below: note the long list of locomotives to choose from (right-side image) after installing this modification.

This clever modification was designed by by Jak Fearon of

Click here to download the "Train Sim Interface Quick Fix". Open the zip and double-click on the installer (setup.exe) - couldn't be simpler.


Install Semi-transparent Driver Aids

The driver aids that pop up on your screen when you press F3 (Controls and Gauges), F4 (Track Monitor), F8 (Point Indicator) and F10 (Next station) are opaque by default.

Adam Wojcieszyk has taken a leaf out of TV stations' books and created semi-transparent driver aids that allow you to still partially see the image behind.

I've created an installer that simplfies the whole installation process:  click here to download AW_GUI_newDriverAids_MSTS1_Setup.exe. .  Simply run this installer and the DriverAid screens will be changed (the originals are saved in a backup folder).


Activity Unpack Fix

When you download a packaged activity from the web and try to install it using TSUnpack, you will see an error "unable to open packaged activity".

This is caused by a registry error that is simple to fix.

Simply download this installer written by Thomas Tydal and run it once: you can now unpack activities.


Extra Memory For MSTS

Ok, we're almost there. Now take a minute or two to read and implement the suggestions contained within the tutorial entitled Increasing memory that can be used by MSTS: it'll make your MSTS operation SO much smoother and you'll have less problems running modern densely-populated routes.


Fix Default Errors

There are several blatant errors in the models as supplied with MSTS. This EXE file will fix the following errors (it will NOT alter friction, braking or physics of these models from the default):

380 Missing sound file "a380-powercruise8.wav"
310 Incorrect AI lighting
Royal Scotsman: Incorrect AI lighting
Dash 9 Error in train brake action
Missing head-out view
GP38-2: Error in notches in throttle
Missing dynamic brake sound
Missing head-out view
Pendennis: Incorrect AI lighting
SD40: Incorrect AI lighting
SD40-2: Shape file bracket error
US2BNSFCAR: Extra bracket error

Click here to download Basic_Fixes_MSTS1_Setup.exe (634 KB (649,989 bytes)).

Run this file, it will find your MSTS installation and upgrade each of the incorrect files.


Important Add-Ons You Should Install

Many freeware downloadable routes require one or more add-ons to make them work properly: in order of popularity, they are:

  • Xtracks - an expanded range of straight, curved, trolley, bridge, tunnel track pieces, as well as switches (turnouts), crossovers and a turntable. This link takes you to the Xtracks page at Steam4me where the latest version is always available.
  • Newroads - an expanded range of straight, curved, sealed, unsealed, freeway road pieces, as well as junctions and intersections. This link takes you to the Newroads page at Steam4me where the latest version is always available.

In my opinion, Xtracks and Newroads are must downloads.

    ScaleRail - a new track profile and textures means that routes using ScaleRail will demonstrate a greater degree of realism. This link takes you to the ScaleRail download page at where the latest download is always available.
  • UK Finescale - UK FineScale (UKFS) is a comprehensive track system based on UK track specifications. Although designed for UK operation, UKFS can be used for routes in other countries where the gauge is 1.435m and the standard double track separation is 3.41m (or similar). This track system brings parallel tracks much closer to together. The website is currently off-line, but you can download the UKFS installer by clicking on this link: UKFS_v3_1_6_full.exe.
  • MSTS Bin - MSTSbin is an unofficial patch to the core code in Microsoft Train Simulator; while other add-ons are limited to using what's already there in the basic product MSTSbin actually provides a whole new set of features as well as a number of fixes to some issues in Train Simulator.

    Major improvements include operation of dual cabs and improvements to camera viewpoints, train operations and general robustness. There are a number of other mprovementsin how MSTS handles front coupling, an increase in the number of objects it can cope with at one time (which should help robustness especially on big routes), graphical improvements to the train operations screen and a number of other tweaks.
    The FAQ Page for MSTS-Bin should be your first stop to understand more about this exciting patch to MSTS.




Your MSTS is now installed and error-free as far as the original installation goes.

Of course, from here you have thousands of locomotives, routes and other add-ons to enhance your simulation experience.