As of SEOW v3.2, full support for rail freight and train movement is included. Trains, like other transport units can be produced in factories, brought onto the map as reinforcements, and moved entirely at the commander's discretion. They can also be placed in position in templates (use mobile forms in templates).
Trains can carry supply and other units as freight. They are slaved to the railway network at all times (using the Strict Complex Ground Movement Mode with the data in the Railway_Waypoints and Railway_Intersections tables). Loading freight on trains occurs in exactly the same way as for other transport units: through the Logistics:Freight tool. The one difference is the "Heavy Rail Freight" setting in the DCS. With this selected, trains may only load heavy freight (armour, artillery) if they are within the Control Radius of a defined Railway Station. If this setting is unselected, trains may load and unload freight wherever they are stopped.
Trains are not well modelled in IL-2, so it is impossible for SEOW to produce partially damaged, mobile trains. SEOW uses a "brittle" model for train damage. That is, if any train car is destroyed then the whole train is disabled and disrupted beyond further use. But that does not mean that all freight it was carrying was destroyed. SEOW incorporates a partial freight damage model, so that if 20% of a train is destroyed, approximately 20% of its freight will be destroyed and the remainder will be unloaded automatically onto the ground around the disrupted train.
Consider the following example. A "Germany_CargoTrain/AA" has 11 wagons and is carrying 5 MG-34 platoons, 2 PzIV-F2 tanks and 20,000 litres of supply. En route to Dmitriev-Lgovskiy it is attacked by a La-5 and has 4 wagons destroyed. The train stops on the track and is rendered useless for the remainder of the campaign. SEOW places damage objects there, but the track is still open for other trains to move through. Since 4 out of 11 wagons are destroyed, approximately 36% of the freight must also be destroyed. Applying this ratio, SEOW determines through a roll of a die that 2 MG-34 platoons are also destroyed, no PzIV-F2 tanks are destroyed, and 7200 litres of supply are destroyed. The remaining freight, 3 MG-34 platoons, 2 PzIV-F2 tanks and 12,800 litres of supply are placed around the wreckage site (the supply automatically appears as a new Supply Drop). The La-5 pilot gets credits for the partial kills. Any following Axis train can stop and load the surviving freight, if desired, or the MG-34 and Panzer units can simply move under under their own steam.
HistorySFX Mod: Train Ruggedness
One of the important HistorySFX Mods is to increase the strength of trains against small-calibre strafing. This was made especially on request from SEOW developers to make the use of trains more attractive. Many thanks to the HistorySFX team for acting on our request.
Rail Operations: Technical aspect
1. Even stationary trains sometimes move! SEOW tries to represent trains accurately in-game. The best way to do this is to use mobile forms, because IL-2 has bad support for stationary trains. Therefore, even if your train has no orders to move, SEOW may create it as a moving train with only 1 short waypoint, ending where it is meant to be parked. This is called a "Rolling Stop". So remember, even stationary trains may actually move a short distance in a mission.
2. If moving trains touch, they both are destroyed, like ships.
3. When plotting routes for a train along a long stretch with no rail junctions, just use one waypoint at the destination. SEOW will fill in the remaining waypoints. Only put in enough waypoints of your own along the way to help the train pass through a junction.
4. Do not run multiple trains along the same stretch of track in the same mission. Trains have no collision avoidance intelligence. If you absolutely MUST use the same stretch of track more than once in a mission, make sure there is maximum separation in time between successive trains.
5. Do NOT park two trains at the same station.
6. Damaged trains are written off by SEOW. They cannot be repaired.
Tough isn't it? It gets easier as you get more experience, so enjoy the ride. But remember that in WWII the train systems were run by whole networks of experts, quite separately to the armed services. Why? Because trains were both absolutely important and difficult to run.