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Our goal is to enhance the railroad simulation hobby through a community designed and supported platform built to serve as a lasting foundation for an accurate and immersive simulation experience.

By making the source code of the platform accessible to community members, we ensure that Open Rails will continually evolve to meet the technical, operational, graphical, and content building needs of the community. Open architecture ensures that our often considerable investment in building accurate representations of routes and rolling stock will not become obsolete due to 'economic realities'.

Access to the source code eliminates the frustration of undocumented behavior and simplifies understanding the internal operation of the simulator without the time consuming trial and error experimentation typically needed today.

We benefit from community expertise to deliver accuracy not just in appearance, but also operationally. It's this area that we find existing products lacking. We understand that 'operations' differ greatly, not just among regions, but even from railroad to railroad.

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For this reason we believe we need an open, extensible architecture that allows plug-ins, developed by local specialized sub teams, to reproduce the individual aspects of their favorite railroad. Open Rails is not simply a clone of MSTS. It's a standalone game platform that is flexible enough to take advantage of current and evolving PC technologies.

One major technical objective is to achieve backward compatibility with existing MSTS content, embracing and extending the life of over a decade of community and third party developed content. Despite this backward compatibility, we will not be bound by the limitations of those file formats. We will extend those formats and create new file formats as needed to support the advanced capabilities of current computers and graphics technology.

Looking into the future, third party content developers will be able create new content specifically for Open Rails or update previously created content to exploit new features and capabilities offered by the Open Rails game engine - beyond what MSTS or other train sims do today.

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We extend an invitation to the commercial enterprises in our community to support Open Rails. We envision an environment with a mix of commercial and free add-ons, tools and content. We will keep the community engaged through frequent communication. We will publish our work list and priorities. You will know where your particular feature of interest stands relative to our other work. You won't however see timetables or release dates. An overriding objective is that the project be enjoyable for the team members. We'll progress at 'hobby pace'.

Open Rails is just what the name implies - a railroad simulation platform that's open for inspection, open for continuous improvement, open to third parties and commercial enterprises, open to the community, and best of all, an open door to the future.