MainTrain: A Serious Game on the Complexities of Rail Maintenance

  • David AlderliestenEmail author
  • Kotryna Valečkaitė
  • Nestor Z. Salamon
  • J. Timothy Balint
  • Rafael Bidarra
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11385)


Commuters who travel by train often feel annoyed due to misunderstanding the causes of delays in train traffic. They oftentimes are unaware of the necessity of performing maintenance to stations, tracks, and trains. MainTrain is a serious game developed to teach commuters about rail-maintenance while simulating the difficulty of keeping passengers happy. It is a fast-paced strategy game with a top-down view in which a player can perform maintenance actions on stations, tracks, and trains. By using commuter happiness as a base metric, MainTrain attempts to elicit empathy from players dissatisfied with scheduled maintenance so that they gain a better appreciation of the need for scheduled maintenance. This is coupled with the need to schedule maintenance for several components of a rail network, encumbering a player while teaching them about different aspects of rail maintenance. To examine the effectiveness of the game, the results of a user study are presented.


Serious game Educational game Rail maintenance 



Firstly, we would like to thank the project team, Kanav Anand, Floris Doolaard, Jesse Tilro, Tim Yue, for their time and patience whilst designing the MainTrain with us. Secondly, we are extremely grateful to Pawel Kolodziejczyk, who framed the project and gave insight into the world of rail maintenance. Lastly, we would like to express gratitude for the game testers - you provided us with the all too needed points of improvement.


  1. 1.
    2K Games and Firaxis Games: Sid Meier’s Railroads! Windows PC version (2006).
  2. 2.
    Buckley, K.E., Anderson, C.A.: A theoretical model of the effects and consequences of playing video games. In: Vorderer, P., Bryant, J. (eds.) Playing video games - motives, responses, and consequences, pp. 363–378. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, Mahwah (2006)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Buiel, E.F.T., et al.: Synchro mania - design and evaluation of a serious game creating a mind shift in transport planning. In: Proceedings of the International Simulation and Gaming Association’s 46th International Conference, pp. 1–12 (2015)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Counter, B., Abu-Tair, A., Franklin, A., Tann, D.: Refurbishment of ballasted track systems; the technical challenges of quality and decision support tools. Constr. Build. Mater. 92, 51–57 (2015). Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dinosaur Polo Club. Mini Metro: Windows PC version (2015).
  6. 6.
    Jamshidi, A., et al.: Probabilistic defect-based risk assessment approach for rail failures in railway infrastructure. IFAC-PapersOnLine 49, 73–77 (2016). Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jung, I., Choi, S., Lim, C., Leem, J.: Effects of different types of interaction on learning achievement, satisfaction and participation in web-based instruction. Innov. Educ. Teach. Int. 39, 153–162 (2002). Scholar
  8. 8.
    Khouzani, A.H.E., Golroo, A., Bagheri, M.: Railway maintenance management using a stochastic geometrical degradation model. J. Transp. Eng. Part A Syst. 143, 04016002 (2017). Scholar
  9. 9.
    Miller, S.M., Green, M.L.: Coping with stress and frustration. In: Lewis, M., Saarni, C. (eds.) The Socialization of Emotions. GB, vol. 5, pp. 263–314. Springer, Boston, MA (1985). Scholar
  10. 10.
    Malthaner, H.: Simutrans - Transport Simulator. Windows PC version (1999).
  11. 11.
    Meijer, S.: Introducing Gaming Simulation in the Dutch Railways. Procedia Soc. Behav. Sci. 48, 41–51 (2012). Scholar
  12. 12.
    Meijer, S.A., Mayer, I.S., van Luipen, J., Weitenberg, N.: Gaming rail cargo management. Simul. Gaming 43(1), 85–101 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Moore, M.G.: Three types of interaction. Am. J. Distance Educ. 3, 1–7 (1989). Scholar
  14. 14.
    Nunez, A., Hendriks, J., Li, Z., De Schutter, B., Dollevoet, R.: Facilitating maintenance decisions on the Dutch railways using big data: the ABA case study. In: Proceedings - 2014 IEEE International Conference on Big Data, IEEE Big Data 2014, pp. 48–53. IEEE (2015)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ortúzar, J., Willumsen, L.G.: Modelling Transport, 4th edn. Wiley, Chichester (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Parbo, J., Nielsen, O.A., Prato, C.G.: Passenger perspectives in railway timetabling: a literature review. Transp. Rev. 36, 500–526 (2016). Scholar
  17. 17.
    Soft Pro Trend. Railroad X, Windows PC version (2014).
  18. 18.
    Tsuchiya, R., Sugiyama, Y., Yamauchi, K., Fujinami, K., Arisawa, R., Nakagawa, T.: Route-choice support system for passengers in the face of unexpected disturbance of train operations. In: WIT Transactions on the Built Environment, pp. 189–197 (2006)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    van den Hoogen, J., Meijer, S.: Gaming and simulation for railway innovation. Simul. Gaming 46, 489–511 (2015). Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wallen, K.R.: How can improvements be made to the United States metrorail system (with a focus on the Washington metropolitan area transit authority metrorail system) to enhance safety for its riders. Technical report, US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, United States (2016)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zhu, S., Masud, H., Xiong, C., Yang, Z., Pan, Y., Zhang, L.: Travel behavior reactions to transit service disruptions. Transp. Res. Rec. J. Transp. Res. Board 2649, 79–88 (2017). Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Alderliesten
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kotryna Valečkaitė
    • 1
  • Nestor Z. Salamon
    • 1
  • J. Timothy Balint
    • 1
  • Rafael Bidarra
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer ScienceDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations