The Route

The Boston & Albany route for Train Simulator Classic features the approximately 100-mile segment of the B&A between Boston and Springfield. All or part of many B&A branch lines are also included, most notably the Millbury Branch, the Spencer Branch, and the Athol Branch which terminates in the town of Ludlow. Large, complex railroad yards can be found at West Springfield, Worcester, Allston, and South Boston. Major cities include Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Framingham, which are appropriately, and often densely, populated with urban buildings and structures. A variety of industries, large and small, are located throughout the route.

Sports fans will recognize Fenway Park, long-time home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, modeled here as it appeared in the 1960s, and Boston University’s Nickerson Field, former site of the Boston Braves baseball stadium. You might also notice the boathouses of BU, MIT and Harvard alongside the distant banks of the Charles River. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame complex on the east bank of the Connecticut River in Springfield is not included since it did not open until 1985.

Topographically, the route poses no major challenges though there are some hilly areas, particularly to the west of Worcester, with maximum gradients of around 1%. Charlton, at 895 ft (273 m) elevation, marks the summit of the line, but on the average the route is fairly flat. Speed limits are generally high, with the maximum allowed speed on this subdivision being 65 mph for passenger trains and 60 mph for freight. The mainline is double-tracked throughout; the section from Allston to Framingham is quadruple-tracked with two separate tracks for commuter trains. There are no tunnels.

The track plan closely follows the most recent B&A track chart, which was published in 1950. All signals shown on the track chart are included and are of the proper types and aspects.

The era of the route is somewhat ambiguous, but generally speaking it's 1960 plus or minus around five years. In that timespan we get glimpses of some soon-to-be-retired diesel locomotives and rolling stock, as well as that harbinger of Boston's soon-to-be high-rise building boom, the Prudential tower.

Operationally, this route has something for everybody: long-haul passenger trains; stop-and-go commuter runs; and freight service with both heavy-haul trains and shortline manifest trains, along with some complex (in other words, fun!) switching. Or if you just like to watch the scenery go by, you'll particularly enjoy the many scenic vistas which range from sparsely populated but heavily wooded rural New England areas, to busy urban centers. The scenarios we've provided are designed to showcase the route's rich variety of trains, localities, and operational possibilities.


Route Map

B&A History

The Boston and Albany Railroad (B&A) came into being in 1870 following the merger of several railroads that together linked the two B&A namesake capital cities along with several other prominent cities and towns in the US states of Massachusetts and New York. In 1900, the railroad granted a 99-year lease to what would soon become the New York Central Railroad. NYC then offered both freight and passenger services using its own NYC-branded equipment. The Albany connection made it possible for NYC to run express passenger trains along its rail network from Boston to as far west as the midwestern US cities of Chicago and St. Louis. NYC also ran scheduled commuter trains between the cities of Boston and Worcester, as well as services on several B&A branch lines, reaching smaller towns such as Milford, Millbury, Webster, Winchester and Athol.

The B&A interchanged with several other New England railroads, the most significant of which was the New York, New Haven and Hartford. During the 1940s, the New Haven operated New York City-bound passenger trains along the B&A main, via its connections at the union stations of Boston, Worcester and Springfield.

In the mid-20th century, economic conditions were transforming railroads throughout the US. In 1968, New York Central was merged into Penn Central, which in turn was taken over by Conrail in 1976. In 1999, Conrail was apportioned out to, among others, CSX Transportation. Today, CSX operates freight services westward from its intermodal terminal in Worcester. Amtrak began providing intercity passenger service along the ex-B&A mainline in 1971. Trackage east of Framingham was acquired by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in 1973. MBTA later acquired the trackage between Framingham and Worcester and continues to provide Worcester-Boston commuter rail services to the present day.

From a historical perspective it's also worth noting that several B&A station buildings were designed by the famed, late-19th century architect, Henry Hobson Richardson. Additional stations were designed in what came to be known as the “Richardson Romanesque” style by his successor firm, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. This accounts for the similar appearance of many of the stations on the line, particularly in their usage of sizable "ashlar" granite blocks trimmed with smaller, reddish granite. Yet despite their resemblance to one another, no two stations are alike.


B&A Locomotives

The Boston & Albany route is an "All ALCo" package!


The ALCo PA-1 and PA-2 were diesel locomotives built by the American Locomotive Company in a partnership with General Electric in Schenectady, New York during the years 1947 to 1953. These A1A-A1A locomotives were powered by ALCo's model 244 16-cylinder engine. The PA-1 had a slightly less powerful version of the engine than did the PA-2. The PA series was designed to be used in passenger service, whereas the companion FA model was a freight hauler.

The locomotives were notorious (and loved by railfans) for their tendency to emit thick black exhaust smoke when accelerating. This was caused by the fuel-air mixture being overly rich while the exhaust-powered turbocharger gradually got up to speed, a condition known as "turbo lag."

Although the PAs are considered by many to be a beautiful design, they were plagued by mechanical problems and eventually went out of favor as railroads began to acquire more and more EMD products.


Three different models of the locomotive were offered. The FA-1/FB-1, which featured a 1,500 horsepower (1,100 kW) rating, was built from 1946 to 1950. The 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) FA-2/FB-2 was built between 1950 and 1956. The 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) FPA-4/FPB-4, powered by the 251 V-12 engine, was built between 1958 and 1959 by ALCo's Canadian subsidiary, Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW).

The FA had the same distinctive styling as its larger cousin, the ALCo PA, with a long, straight nose tipped by a headlight in a square, slitted grille and raked windshields. Externally, the FA-1/FB-1 could be distinguished from the FA-2/FB-2 by the position of the radiator shutters which were farther forward on the FA-2/FB-2, the design having been modified to allow the installation of a steam generator behind the radiator. The majority of FA components were compatible with the PA.

As was the case with the PA, the FAs were plagued by mechanical problems and eventually went out of favor as railroads began to acquire more and more EMD products.


The RS-3 was the most successful of American Locomotive Company's B-B road switchers. At 1,600 hp, it was the successor to the 1,500 hp RS-2 and was equipped with a turbocharged ALCo model 244-D 12-cylinder engine. The locomotives were manufactured from 1950 to 1956, mostly at ALCo's Schenectady facility, but also by ALCO's Canadian subsidiary, Montreal Locomotive Works. The RS-3 resembled the design and appearance of its predecessor. In addition to having a more powerful engine, changes were made to the fuel system and to the body shape.

Most RS-3s were used in local freight train service as well as in commuter passenger service. Much like its RS-1 predecessor, many RS-3s served for decades. However, despite the RS-3's success, and as with ALCo's other diesel locomotives, products of EMD were much bigger sellers. In the case of the RS-3, EMD produced more than twice as many of the competing GP7s. Nevertheless, numerous examples of the RS-3 remain preserved today, and several are still operational.

ALCo HH600

The ALCo HH ("High Hood") series of diesel-electric switcher locomotives were built by the American Locomotive Company during the years 1931 to 1940. The model 600 locomotives were powered by a naturally aspirated McIntosh & Seymour 531 engine. In addition to the model 600, models 660, 900 and 1000 were also produced. These latter locomotives were either turbocharged or used more powerful engines to achieve their higher horsepower ratings.

The HH600s were among the very few locomotives actually owned and operated by the B&A, and were often used to haul empty passenger-car consists from South Station to the erstwhile Essex Street Coach Yard, which is now the site of Boston's Prudential Center. The HH600s, which were numbered 680 through 684, were eventually sold to the New York Central, which renumbered them 806 to 810.

ALCo replaced the HH series with the S series of switchers in 1940.