Skip to content

Is Train Simulator Classic Free? The Ultimate Guide

No, Train Simulator Classic is not free. It costs $29.99 to purchase on Steam. However, there are some great free and discounted options available if you want to experience train simulation on a budget, which I‘ll cover in detail in this guide.

Overview of Train Simulator Classic

For those unfamiliar, Train Simulator Classic is one of the leading and most realistic train simulators available for PC. Originally known as RailWorks, it was developed by Dovetail Games and first released in 2009.

Some key features that have made it so popular with rail fans and modelers:

  • Incredibly detailed and accurate 3D models of real world locomotives and cars from manufacturers like EMD, GE and Siemens.
  • Huge library of officially licensed routes based on actual rail networks in the US, UK, Germany and more.
  • Advanced driving physics including precise train controls, realistic brake systems and challenging passenger operations.
  • Ability to build huge virtual rail networks by purchasing additional routes and trains.
  • Multiplayer support allows driving with friends.

With over 6,500 pieces of DLC, thousands of community add-ons and regular updates, Train Sim Classic provides one of the most immersive and customizable train simulation experiences on the market.

Train Simulator Classic Pricing

As mentioned above, Train Sim Classic is not free and must be purchased on Steam for $29.99. This gives you the base game with three routes:

  • London-Brighton Mainline
  • Hamburg-Hanover High Speed
  • Leipzig-Erfurt High Speed

Additional routes usually cost around $20-30 each. There are also hundreds of extra trains, scenarios, buildings and other DLC available at various prices.

According to SteamDB, purchasing all the available Train Simulator 2022 DLC would cost a whopping $6,538.43!

So while Train Sim Classic provides an incredibly realistic simulator, expanding your virtual railroad with add-ons can get expensive. Let‘s look at some free alternatives.

Free Train Simulator Options

If you don‘t want to pay to play Train Sim Classic, there are a few free train simulator games available:

Open Rails

Open Rails is an open source train simulator for Windows, Mac and Linux. It features:

  • Free download with over 50 different trains and railways.
  • Realistic operations including AI trains, signaling and dispatching.
  • Route editor to build your own tracks and worlds.
  • Thousands of free community created add-ons and content.

The graphics and engine modeling are not as advanced as Train Sim Classic. However, Open Rails provides a very capable simulator for free. Well worth trying for model railroading enthusiasts on a budget.

Indian Train Simulator

With over 10 million downloads on Android and iOS, Indian Train Simulator is a popular free option for mobile devices. Gameplay includes:

  • Driving Indian locomotives like WDM-3A and WDM-2 on realistic routes.
  • Passenger and freight train driving modes.
  • Day/night cycle, weather effects and accurate train physics.
  • Basic railway operations like station stops and signalling.

While limited compared to Train Sim Classic, Indian Train Sim provides a surprisingly good free railway simulation experience on mobile.

Official Free Demos

Free demos of the latest Train Simulator releases are available on Steam, giving you a taste of the advanced simulation:

  • Train Simulator 2022: Includes Railfan Mode on the Riviera Line route section.
  • Train Sim World 2: Lets you drive the DB BR Class 101 for 42 mins on Main Spessart Bahn.

These demos naturally limit the content but are good for sampling the superior graphics and physics modeling of the modern sim engines.

Getting Train Simulator Discounts

Purchasing Train Simulator during a Steam sale can massively reduce costs. For example:

  • During the 2022 Lunar Sale, the base game was 85% off at just $4.99.
  • The German and US route expansions dropped from ~$30 to under $5 each.

Up to 90% discounts on bundles, locos and other DLC are common during seasonal sales.

By picking up Train Simulator editions and add-ons during Steam sales, you can build an extensive rail network for just a fraction of the full price.

Price Alerts

Signing up for price alerts on sites like SteamDB is a good way to catch discounts as soon as they go live. For example, you can get notified when the Train Simulator base game or a route DLC you want drops below a set price threshold.

This allows you to quickly grab Train Simulator products at their cheapest. Just showing a little patience for Steam sales can save you a ton.

Buying Bundles

Purchasing Train Simulator bundles that include the base game and multiple DLC is often cheaper than buying individually.

For example, during sales the Train Simulator 2021 Deluxe Edition dropped to under $15 and included the base game plus 11 routes, 4 trains, plus over a dozen other DLC – an incredible deal!

Even without discounts, bundles like the Train Sim World 2 Standard Edition provide good value, packing in 4 routes and 15 trains for under $60. Grabbing bundles is a smart way to kickstart your collection.

Getting Free DLC & Add-ons

There are also a few ways to get Train Simulator DLC add-ons completely free:

Official Freebies

The developers occasionally give away free DLC on social media and forums. For example in the past they‘ve handed out:

  • BR Class 31 Loco Add-on
  • Northern Trans-Pennine Route

So it can be worth watching their channels for these limited free DLC giveaways.

User Generated Content

Train Simulator has thousands of free user made addons on Steam Workshop and other sites. These range from trains to routes, scenery and rail activities.

For example, the entire Vviasak Byggforpack on Simulator Download Station adds hundreds of kilometres of highly detailed Swedish railway to drive for free.

With a bit of searching, you can find all sorts of free community creations to enhance your experience at $0 cost.

Completely Free Simulators

If you don‘t own Train Simulator and want a free simulator, here are some options:

Microsoft Train Simulator

Released in 2001, Microsoft Train Simulator can now be considered abandonware. This means you can download the base game plus huge mods like Ultimate Train Simulator for free legally.

With over 500 trains and hundreds of routes, it provides a free alternative despite the dated graphics. The content appeals most to European and American rail fans.

Train Modes in Truck Simulators

Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator have train driving mods that reskin trucks as locos and add passenger/freight cars.

Driving the ETS2 European rail networks in a cargo train can be great fun. With mature graphics and physics from the underlying truck sim, it‘s a free option train fans might enjoy.

Summary

While Train Simulator Classic isn‘t free, with the right approach you can build an extensive rail network and get hundreds of hours of simulation without overspending:

  • Grab Train Simulator during Steam sales for massive discounts on the base game and DLC.
  • Use sites like SteamDB to set price alerts and grab deals.
  • Pick up bundles that pack in lots of content for better value.
  • Watch for occasional free DLC giveaways for your collection.
  • Download user generated content and community addons.
  • Consider free alternatives like Open Rails or Microsoft Train Simulator mods.

With thousands of pieces of content available, pinching some pennies here and there on your virtual railroad can really add up. Hopefully this guide gives you some budget friendly tips to get your train simulation hobby rolling down the tracks. Full steam ahead!