BVE Train Simulator 5/6: The Big English Guide On How To Use It, And Why

Boso View Express, or BVE for short, is one of those train simulators that have been around for a very long time but never quite managed to establish themselves at the top of the food chain, at least not here in the west. But if you want to simulate Japanese railways, BVE is essentially the holy grail.

You can find a huge variety of routes and vehicles, all of them with appropriate train protection and signalling systems courtesy of a highly-flexible plugin interface, for absolutely no money at all, but there is a downside: Basically the entire community is based in Japan, communicates in Japanese, and works on Japanese computers – which makes it difficult to get into the sim, or even to get it working, if you are not able to read and understand at least a bit of Japanese. (Google Translate, while definitely useful, often chokes on technical jargon.)

This guide aims to help you install the sim and addons, understand principles of how Japanese railways generally are operated and how they differ from what we Westerners would expect, and also point you to some up-to-date, high-quality add-ons.


Oddities at Zürich

Recently, I did a couple of trips to Zürich for a job application (it didn’t work out). This also meant I had a couple of hours for some photographing each time. Yay!

The first thing of note is the Sihltal-Zürich-Uetlibergbahn (SZU). They operate two lines, the Sihltalbahn (with 15 kV 16.7 Hz AC) and the Uetlibergbahn (with 1250 V DC). Funnily enough, both lines share the tracks on the last kilometer or so before reaching the central station, so somehow they need two separate power lines on those tracks. How did they do that? Easy!

DeckenstromschienenCentered above the rail is a catenary for 15kV AC – that’s the right one in this image. The other catenary, which is off to the side, is filled with delicious 1250V DC for the Uetlibergbahn trains. When looking towards the Zürich main station, it’s off to the left. Along with the catenary, the pantograph is also set to the left side looking towards Zürich (trains can’t turn in the SZU network). The new dual-current trains have both centered pantographs (for AC) and offset pantographs (for DC). Note the different sizes of the isolators in the photograph.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the trains, but you can find plenty of those on the interwobz.

Then, there’s the Forchbahn. They operate a suburban train line on narrow gauge that suddenly joins the tram tracks of the local transport authority (VBZ) between Realp and the Stadelhofen station.

Signale der Forchbahn (Rehalp)And then, of course, there is a lot of regular railway stuff. Like the new S-Bahn station at the central station, opened only last year along with the S-Bahn tunnel from there to Zürich-Oerlikon. From time to time, it’s also used by long-distance trains.

IR im S-Bahn-Tunnel

One of the more iconic features of this station are the elevators: They are all slightly slanted, because the platforms in the tunnel are a bit offset against the platforms above. Note that the yellow tint is due to my incompetence when operating a camera.

Aufzug in Zürich HB

There’s even a nice zen garden!


And, of course, there’s a bunch of cool trains and vehices, like this Ee 3/3, built in 1943 and still working.

Ee 3/3 bei nicht mehr ganz optimalem Licht...

Or the RBe 540, which still hasn’t been entirely taken out of service and is drafted for shunting services or for replacing broken engines from time to time.

RBe 540 vor InterCity

Or, of course, the Ee 922, which runs 80kph, has 600kW of continuous power and 120kN of starting tractive effort and is also available with a handy little diesel engine for those non-electrified sidings. It’s way more awesome than a shunting engine should be allowed to be.

Kleine Lok ganz groß

There are a lot more and better photos on my Flickr account – these here are just those I wanted to say something about. So, if you found this interesting and want to see more, feel free to head over there and follow me.

Funny DMUs and stuff

This sunday, I tagged along with a friend for some trainspotting in the Allgäu. Thanks to a burnt down diesel engine, some ALEX trains near Immenstadt are currently operated with NE81 DMUs that are not indigenous to the region.

While waiting for our mark, we tried some motifs with other trains on the quite busy route from Immenstadt to Obersdorf, like this InterCity:



Olympia Station, Munich

In 1972, Munich was host to the Olympic Games, and the region got a nice new regional train (S-Bahn) system for this event. The stadium area was connected to the rail network by a new-built station, which was closed down after the games because it wasn’t needed anymore. The subway (U-Bahn) now connects this area to the city center, with Olympia-Einkaufszentrum being the nearest stop to the former station.

I wanted to take some pictures of this ruin for a while now, but never actually went there, mostly because I was told it was a bit hard to find and there’s not much to see anyway. Yesterday, I spontaneously decided to just go there for a couple of photos in the snow. That turned out to be a rather bad idea, because it was hard to make out anything in this weather, and I’ll definitely go back there in the summer.


This is the view across the old station, with the station building barely visible through the falling snow. The rails, catenary poles and platforms are all that remains.


Same location, other direction – the point area has been dismanteled even more.


In addition to the four passenger tracks, there are also some rails that do not connect to any platform and seem to pass the station building. No clue what they were used for back in the day.

As a bonus, I also spotted my first Velaro D (aka “New ICE 3”).

Velaro D

Trains in Watercolour

During a recent stay at the hospital, I had the opportunity to experiment a bit with watercolour. Never really having painted before, it turned out to be much fun and also yielded some results that I can show without being ashamed. They are already buried in the deep, dark tunnels of DeviantART, but now I have my own personal blog, I believe they deserve to be on it. 🙂

CD This here was my first attempt to paint one of my railway photos, and it shows. Colour’s too thick in most places and many things lack structure (like the tracks, for example). By the way, the station shown is Usti n. L. (Czech Republic), and shows my first sighting of a class 380 multi-current engine.

fsNumber Two I like better. It shows a E.444R (“Tartaruga”) in Roma Termini station. I like the FS colouring scheme quite a bit, and the tracks turned out better this time around.

Tatra-fertigGoing back to Czechia, this scene is based on a photo taken in Prague. I don’t really like it, but apparently some other people do. Man, people are hard to paint.

Praghln-fertigAnd last but not least, there’s this scene at Praha hl.n., which unfortunately my scanner didn’t really like. I think I overcompensated for my earlier over-colouring and used too much water this time around in many places.

What I want to try next is a more naturalistic style, compared to the rather cartoonish style I’ve been doing so far. I have my own set of watercolours now, so nothing can get in my way.