• State of the Site - March 2023

    When I woke up to read the forums here on January 16th, the first discussion thread I came across was regarding concern for another site -- UKTrainSim. A day later, a post on that site confirmed what everyone knew was inevitable -- the site would be closing in August 2023.

    As someone who's been in the Train Simulation community for over 20 years, that really hit home.

    We've lost other communities like Mophouse and the personal sites run by Otto Wipfel & Paul Fowler, and within the last year, 3DTrains.com disappeared overnight.

    Somehow, the news about UKTrainSim was different. Along with this site and Elvas Tower, UKTrainsim has traditionally been one of the cornerstone repositories for MSTS/ORTS and Railworks.

    A few days later, I learned that FlightSim was under new ownership for the second time within six months, and that the new owner was not interested in TrainSim. My first thought hearing this: over 35,000 files in our library and 20 years of discussions were potentially at risk of being lost forever.

    Alarm bells were going off. Loudly and continuously...

    With Nels' help, I reached out to the new FlightSim owner to propose a safe haven for the file library and forums data. By the end of January, we had a transfer agreement not only for the library and forums, but also for the domain name. With longtime admin Rick's assistance (and lots of late night emails), a working copy of the site was up and running by early March, and the site moved into its new virtual home on March 12th.

    It's been a crazy two months since that notice about UKTrainSim closing down was issued, but this site is again in safe hands, and we as a community control our future.

    Nels and Rick again have a say in how things will be done, and will be around for as long as they wish to remain involved. It's because of their effort over the past 25+ years this site flourished, and their vision of running it as a place for community and a virtual museum for our shared hobby will continue.

    We've got opportunities and challenge as we go forward into the rest of the year:

    We no longer share our infrastructure with a larger site like FlightSim.com and a commercial storefront to help pay the bills.

    The easy choice would be to change the site over to a locked-down paid model like some other hobby sites have done, but I'd rather not see that happen.

    Going forward, our only sources of income are advertising, and our First Class and Supporting Member subscription options.

    We had $0 in the bank on February 2nd. The entities who owned the two sites prior to February ran them as for-profit businesses. They haven't shared any of the funds from subscriptions bought prior to February and likely won't

    Fortunately, there are financial guarantees from me and others which will see the site funded for the next twelve months. My credit cards are footing the bill until new donations and renewals are back up to a level that can support the site again.

    Privileges for existing memberships will be honored regardless of when you subscribed or renewed. It's simply the right thing to do.

    Our costs are not locked in against price increases. We operate on a month-to-month basis with regard to servers, storage and bandwidth, and like everything else in 2023, those costs only stand to increase.

    The forum software and technology stack are end of life and in need of an upgrade. That will cost money for software licenses plus a second server to do the testing on as trying to do this on the production site's server is far too risky. Once there's enough in the savings account to fund the site thru 2024, we'll start looking at the site upgrade.

    That's pretty much where things stand today. We have a more stable future than we did two months ago, and I hope I can report the same twelve months from now.

    If you currently subscribe, thank you.

    If you don't currently subscribe, I hope you'll consider whether or not this site is worth the $20 or $30 each year for a Supporting or First Class membership.

    Without Trainsim.com, I could have never discovered the joy of recreating and running the trains and railroads I grew up with. I'd have never learned 3D modeling. And I would not have made friendships which now extend beyond just the hobby.

    I hope each of you who've read this far will find the same value in the site that I do, and will help ensure it is here for many years to come.
    1. jbtower's Avatar
      jbtower -
      Thanks for all you've done to allow our hobby to continue. A good portion of us have been around since the inception of MSTS. I remember when MSTS was developing so fast that you couldn't keep up with all the contributions flooding in the new files catagory. Things have settled to a fairly even pace and with OR on the scene the hobby has changed for the better. I've been around here in the hobby for over 18 years and look forward to another 18 years!
    1. dedrickfranklin's Avatar
      dedrickfranklin -
      i love my openrails sim i don t wont to see it go i would like to learn how to use tsre5 maybe some video classes
    1. dgionet's Avatar
      dgionet -

      Thanks for your time and efforts to keep this site alive!

      We'll try to do our part on our side.

    1. landnrailroader's Avatar
      landnrailroader -
      I share the comments of others being especially someone that wants to preserve history. I have several routes in the library some done with the assistance of Lucas Lussar and others. I intend to maintain my 1st class membership.
    1. toppng's Avatar
      toppng -
      I appreciate the time and effort you have invested in keeping this site operational. We are committed to doing our part to contribute to its success.

      Best regards,
    1. furnilandvn's Avatar
      furnilandvn -
      Thanks for your time and efforts to keep this site alive!