A timeline for the 'A tough day III' achievement 'Hold on for at least 24 minutes in the third city in Survival mode'.
A Tough Day III Achievement Guide
Expect your times to vary from these; mine have.
It is quite possible to do things in a locally different order and get the same results at the end.
Build tracks and make routes as shown -- the minimum length that fits every station into a single loop each of passengers and freight.
- Leave room for an outer passenger route, but don't build it yet so that you have more money for more trains now.
- Do not build a dual-loop system. The trains on each loop must dump several cities worth of passengers at the intersecting city for pick-up and transport to the cities on the other loop. You won't last 5 minutes before you start getting 100-passenger pile-ups. 20 seconds at 101+ and you lose.
- Passenger trains make money faster, so prioritize them. Build freight trains when passenger levels are low enough (= passenger trains empty enough) that adding a freight train will make more money.
Buy 4 passenger trains, all with 1 $8000 speed-27 pull-850 (or speed-25 pull-950) locomotive and 2 $22000 speed-25 weight-200 passenger wagons. Space them evenly along their route.
Run at high speed until near $13800, then back to slow. Buy and place your 1st freight train with 1 car. Add cars as money comes in until the train is full, then repeat once.
- Freight trains should use the $12500 speed-25 pull-1200 locomotive and use the largest available wagons. After the first few, I usually wait for enough money to buy the whole train at once.
- When you start new trains, either put them at the station with the largest quantities, or space them evenly. Both if you can manage it.
- All freight stations on all maps seem to spawn roughly equal amounts of the 3 freight types.
- Efficient freight trains leave no unused pulling capacity.
- The speed-25 freight cars don't combine evenly. I manage these 3 factors by building my speed-25 freight trains in sets of 5*: #1,2,4,5: 2 wagons each of coal and tanks, 1 of containers [10 10 4]; at #3: 6 container wagons [0 0 24]. *Incrementally, as I have the money.
Add a third car to all passenger trains.
Get the 3rd (6C) & 4th freights.
Add a 5th passenger train, then the 4th & final car to all.
Start buying the '+10% income for passenger transportation' upgrades.
Buy the 'Sale of locomotives and wagons for full price' upgrade.
Buy the 'Unlock high speed two level locomotives and wagons' unlock.
- Do not buy 'Unlock spacious two level locomotives and wagons'. They can carry 200 passengers instead of 150, but the speed is only 25, so net throughput is lower (if not by much after loading & unloading).
- Now you begin to sell your current passenger trains for $16800 and replace them with better. The new engines are $12500 speed-35 pull-1200; the new cars are $3000 speed-35 weight-200. Total cost is $30500 with 6 cars, so $13700 difference.
- Click on the older passenger train with the fewest passengers loaded, click on the button on the pop-up to sell it. The sale displaces those passengers to their originating stations. Buy a full new passenger train and place it wherever seems best. Repeat (as you get $13700s) until done.
- You will likely get a station with over 100 passengers here. You have enough train capacity to clear it out, which will make the timer countdown reverse and the timer disappear.
Buy the '+10% income for cargo delivery' upgrades.
Get a fifth freight train.
Buy the '-10% of passenger boarding time' upgrades.
Purchase the 'Unlock big wagons' trio.
Sell your freight trains for $18800, buy new ones for $22000 that use the same engines that are pulling your passengers and one each of the new big wagons.
Buy a 6th passenger and freight train.
Buy the '-10% of cargo loading time' upgrades.
Buy a 7th passenger train.
Build and populate the outer passenger route (4 cities - it can't reach the central station).
- The outer passenger route is 1964 units long, versus 2484 for the inner, so it holds fewer trains.
- You could build an outer freight route as well, but a) you don't have anything to spend the faster money on and b) the current route can keep up. So long as you place enough freight trains: don't worry -- it's the passengers that are going to kill you.
Keep adding trains as needed.
- Leave enough room in the inner passenger route that waiting trains don't back up all the way to the preceding station. You can't afford to have blocked stations.
- I ended up with 9 or 8 on the inside passenger routes and 7 or 6 on the outside (see results below). I had 14 freights -- more than necessary, but less than there's room for.
Brief timer pop-ups start to become routine.
Inner loop* outer loop* run length*(direction of rotation + passenger train count)
- CW 8 CW 6 24:45
- CW 9 CW 7 23:31
- CW 8 CCW 6 23:54
- CW 9 CCW 7 24:21
My guess is that the greater passenger count variation in counter-rotation is compensated for by the greater reliability from 1 more train, while the greater average travel distance in co-rotation is compensated for by the greater average speed from 1 less train.
I didn't try running counterclockwise in the core loop, because I preferred the long stretch to be before the center station rather than after, just in case.
I didn't try repeating runs to find what the time variation was like. Possibly all the listed variation is from randomness.