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Rail Nation Game Guide and Review

Updated on June 24, 2015

All aboard!

If you've ever fancied running your own online model railway, then the online game "Rail Nation" is probably right up your street. To be fair even if you're not that interested in trains the social interaction and teamwork found within RN are hard to find elsewhere.

This guide / review will hopefully serve to show you the basics (and beyond) plus entice you into having a try at potentially running your own rail empire. First of course if you haven't one already is the need to make an account, the game can be found at :

Roll out

This guide will hopefully equip you with the ability to play rail nation well and if so chosen a high ranking on the server you choose to play on. The server I've picked here is "Coal Box" and the city of Liberty, each server runs for a month and a half, the round then ends and the server then restarts, the goal being that you, your association and your city gains the top rankings.

So how to begin? Well firstly the tutorial will see you through the first steps, plus also award you with some starting cash and gold, once most of the tutorial is complete (around the stage where one is instructed to "instant dispatch" a train) it's time to start focusing on your own goals.

Number one on the list is getting your engine house up to level 5 so you can have 5 of the early "Swallow" trains rolling, even though they are painfully slow they are the best source of revenue until you join an active association.

The Upgrade from level 4 to level 5 costs 200K so once you've done the first early steps a little break is probably in order, you might want to upgrade your lab and restaurant a little however I'd advise not sinking too much cash into them until you've got that Engine House up to lvl 5.

Tech Tree

Whilst it might be tempting to go for the Swallow's speed upgrade first of +10, I'd much rather highly recommend the +1 waggon upgrade even though it requires a lot more tech points. Being able to haul more waggons by 50% is much more profitable (even though it'll require a few more waggons to be purchased) than a 10% max speed increase.

Within the tech screen the solid lines indicate which upgrades are required to unlock the next engines, however as the next engine isn't "great" some would argue, and I think in general I agree that it's best to fully upgrade the Swallow before moving on to the second engine, the "Raven".

The Raven can haul more and has a higher top speed than the Swallow however it's acceleration is atrocious so you'll be pushing with the Swallows for a while so might as well make them as good as they can be.

RN Poll #1


See results


Like many online games, Rail Nation uses in-game "Gold", this can be purchased with real world money or there are many other ways to gain it. One of the largest ways of gaining gold is by completing a previous round of Rail Nation, so unfortunately one of the best ways to "win" in Rail Nation is to go back in time and have already played a round :)

If you have some gold reserves, I'd recommend upping your lab to at least lvl 3 & your engine house to lvl 5 before buying the starter package, purchase the gold+ account as soon as you can for the researcher bonus.


One of the main features of Rail Nation is the groupings of players known as Associations, in other games they might be known as guilds or alliances. One of the first things you'll want to do is quickly join an active association within your starting home city if there isn't one available then you can found one.

An association not only is a good place to discuss tactics and strategy it also means other members can collect your station building bonuses plus yours and there's investments will be pooled in the many industries dotted around.


Competitions occur every six hours within each city. Prizes range from just cash and prestige to entire bonus trains. This means the faster you connect to other cities the more competitions you can take part in. The competitions are often staggered meaning your trains can all compete in one cities' competition in time to compete in the next's.


Station Concourse - The first and easiest tip is to not upgrade your concourse at all until the final era. The only exception is if you need a little prestige to push your lottery building into leveling up.

Engine House - Put simply, the engine house should be pushed to max as soon as eras progress, I'd advise saving any won "instant build" tokens from the lottery for the very such thing.

Restaurant - The restaurant is probably the most overlooked building of all. Most people believe in pushing one's laboratory primarily after the engine house however with money pumped in early to the restaurant and being in an active association soon sees the money pouring in to do with as you please.

Shopping Centre - Unless you / your association are very inactive the shopping centre should generally be pretty ignored until the restaurant is maxed out, the centre gives good prestige blocks however the profit return is very poor in comparison.

Licence Trade - Obviously only upgrade the trade centre as and when needed (each time you get a longer chain of goods) Licenses are an incredible source of income though being able to acquire them a lot will depend upon how often you're online when demand / player load is low or not.

Laboratory - One thing to bear in mind with the lab is that it's much better to build your income base first, which means you can then build much greater labs in the long-term, many players over-pump the lab too early and stall their eco.

~ More Soon Hopefully as Round Progresses ~

© 2015 mrblueishmouvesky


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