Railroad Tycoon 3

aka: RRT3, RT3, Railroad Tycoon 3: Coast to Coast, Tielu Daheng 3
Windows Specs [ all ]
(prices updated 9/25 7:20 PM )

Description official descriptions

Five years after its predecessor, Railroad Tycoon 3 offers you the opportunity to build your own railroad empire, this time in full 3D. The most adventurous tycoons may even try to become wealthier than their competitors online. The game still revolves around the three key aspects that were featured in the previous game:

  • Railroad building - Plot new routes, play with supply and demand, buy new locomotives in order to amass money.
  • Economy - Buy up businesses and industries or open restaurants and hotels near your stations to become richer earlier.
  • Stock Market - Invest in other rail companies, manipulate the market - the stock market may well make or break you.


  • Железнодорожный магнат 3 - Russian spelling
  • 铁路大亨3 - Simplified Chinese spelling

Groups +




See any errors or missing info for this game?

You can submit a correction, contribute trivia, add to a game group, add a related site or alternate title.

Credits (Windows version)

84 People · View all



Average score: 83% (based on 27 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 30 ratings with 2 reviews)

Another proof that better graphics don't always equal a better game

The Good
Well, one thing is for certain, this is the best looking Railroad Tycoon ever. The semi-3D engine used in the previous game, Railroad Tycoon 2, and also in Tropico and it's sequel Tropico 2: Pirate Cove, has been replaced by a real-3D engine that's fully zoom- and rotatable, and everything, from the trains themselves over the various buildings to the terrain and it's features look more detailed and most often more beautiful than in the predecessors. And with all that, the engine is still running very fluently, it runs like a charm as long as your CPU is anywhere close to recent, say faster than 1 GHz, with a graphics card from the time that CPU speed was about the best you could get.

The core gameplay is still the one you'd expect to see here if you've played any game of the series: managing a railroad company. Instead of a "real" campaign, you get to play in a semi-campaign that allows you to try and look how you would've fared in the shoes of a historical railroad tycoon, in numerous scenarios on various continents.

Oh, tunnels make a comeback in this episode of the series, too, and in general, you can say track-building is more simple than ever ... not that it was really difficult at any time, but still ... ;-)

The Bad
So, run-of-the-mill Railroad Tycoon gameplay with better graphics ... that doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Unfortunately, it is. Well, at least it's worse than RRT2, in my opinion. One of the worst weaknesses of this game is closely related to it's biggest strength: the graphics engine itself.

In a move I completely fail to understand, more and more games these days trade in the conventional zoom to a "folding" one, which flattens the viewpoint the more you scroll in, viewing things from the side at maximum and from a birds-eye perspective at minimum zoom. While this would be a nice additional feature, if there's no conventional zoom you can use instead, it can be slightly annoying. In Railroad Tycoon 3, it's EXTREMELY annoying. Because the folding occurs such that, no matter where you scroll, you'll hardly find a good compromise between eye-candy and overview, which is really a shame. Minor corrections to the shifting of the angle could've prevented this effect.

Other than that, there are simplifications I personally consider harmful to the games' appeal as well. A lot of micromanagement tasks have been "automated", for example the computer will just issue the number of wagons required for the cargo present in the station in question itself, all you need to do is set the max and min number of wagons the train should consist of. This is just one of the numerous simplifications, which in my opinion make this game closer to a miniature-railroad-sim than a railroad management sim. A bad thing, as far as I'm concerned.

Apart from the railroad business part, there's also a quite simple industrial model, like the one from the previous games, but a bit more simple, or maybe only more general. The stock market is very similar to the one of the predecessors.

The Bottom Line
The thing that really made me dislike this one was the graphics engine. So, by all means, get a demo or something, and if you find you can live with (or even like) it's engine, this could very well be a game for you. Especially if you're fond of not having to take care of things yourself, but like the computer doing them for you. Even more so if you don't own any of the previous games.

If you dislike any of the things I disliked, though, i'd honestly recommend you to get one of the various editions of Railroad Tycoon 2 (they should be very cheap nowadays) instead, or stick to them if you already own one.

Windows · by Cadorna (219) · 2003

A robust railroad management sim that improves on the previous games in the series.

The Good
It is the perfect sequel: The same gameplay that made the previous version so good has been tweaked and made slightly more complex, but with the same basic underlying game mechanic as before. Which means that people familiar with the old game can pick up the new game without difficulty, but those who put forth the effort to understand the new nuances achieve increased success.

As before, the game is chopped up into scenarios, each with a different goal that will challenge your grasp of the game. Some scenarios require you to connect distant cities within a certain time frame. Other scenarios might require you to move a certain amount of specific type of cargo. Others might require you to buy up other competing companies, or to achieve a certain personal net worth via the stock market. (This is just a sample, by the way. The scenario editor is complex and allows for a wide variety of goal types.)

Most of these goals hinge upon building track, buying industries, and generally managing a large railroad. And all of this will be familiar to veterans of RRT2.

Among the new wrinkles are:

  • Vastly improved, fully 3D, fully rotatable graphics engine. You can now view your trains from any angle.

  • You can lay track at any angle (as opposed to the 8 cardinal directions of the previous game). Makes it easier to build switchbacks up steep mountain ranges, as well as avoiding challenging terrain.

  • You can build tunnels.

  • In RRT2, you could buy any industry that was on the map and put it to work for you. In RRT3, you can buy any industry that's available for the time, even if it's not on the map. Is there a spot on your rail line that has 3 or 4 logging camps? Buy a paper mill or a lumber mill and plop it right down next to 'em. And watch your profits soar.

  • The industrial "cargo economy" is significantly more complex than previous versions. Freight moves of its own accord, either overland or via rivers. It's slow and arduous, though, so when you build a railroad depot, nearby freight will begin moving towards your depot. If the freight is picked up and delivered in a timely manner, the freight will preferentially seek out your depot. If you slack, though, it'll pass you by.

    The Bad
    The sandbox mode disables all the economy options, making it essentially a model train sim. I would REALLY like a sandbox mode that lets me pick a map and a start year and then allows me to build a transport empire, complete with stocks and economic concerns.

And the "old coot" narrator gets on my nerves from time-to-time.

Other than that, there wasn't anything about the game I disliked.

The Bottom Line
All in all, it's a tremendous improvement over the already great Railroad Tycoon 2. If you're a fan of builder games like Rollercoaster Tycoon, etc, this game will be right up your alley.

Windows · by Afterburner (486) · 2005


1001 Video Games

Railroad Tycoon 3 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Board game

In 2005 a tie-in boardgame (featuring the same cover artwork) was released, simply entitled Railroad Tycoon.


  • Game Industry Awards
    • 2004 - Simulation of the Year
  • GameSpy
    • 2003 – #10 PC Game of the Year
    • 2003 - PC Empire Builder of the Year
    • 2004 - The Green Banana Award (PC)

Information also contributed by Pseudo_Intellectual.

Related Games

Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon
Released 1990 on DOS, 1991 on Amiga, Atari ST...
Railroad Tycoon II
Released 1998 on Windows, PlayStation, 1999 on Linux
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
Released 2004 on Windows, 2005 on Macintosh, 2015 on iPhone
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Wild!
Released 2005 on Windows
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Soaked!
Released 2005 on Windows, 2007 on Macintosh
Railroad Tycoon II: Platinum
Released 2001 on Windows
Railroad Tycoon II: Gold Edition
Released 2000 on Dreamcast
Railroad Tycoon II: The Second Century
Released 1999 on Windows, Macintosh
School Tycoon
Released 2003 on Windows

Related Sites +

Identifiers +


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Cochonou.

Macintosh added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, tarmo888, Stillman, Zeppin, Klaster_1, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Plok, FatherJack.

Game added November 3rd, 2003. Last modified August 27th, 2023.