Here you can find a simple, or at least not /extreme micromanaging/ way to set up some sort of vehicle separation.
Guide to Route Vehicle Separation
How to Solve
The simplest way that requires literally no management at all would be to have a two-tracked route that is only used for one line, has no level crossings and runs 24/7. Then just put down trains at roughly even intervals and unpause the game. The issue with this is mainly that it’s only cost-efficient when using lots of trains on lines with decent ridership even in the night.
The optimal way is using the Departure Time setting to stagger your trains. This is also pretty much necessary if you want to have shared sections of track.
The best way is to manualy set departure times.
Every train start and end their route at either the same station at diffrent times, or diffrent stations at the same time, will keep them more or less synchronized. You can exploit the off map stations in this manner because they have an unlimited platform capacity.
For example, on the first map you can double track running all the way from north to south and assign each train to one of the two off map stations, and then set them to depart from that station at 8. This means every morning both trains will enter the map full of rush hour commuters, on opposite ends.
This puts two trains leaving at peak hours with maximum possible separation. Once they pass each other, they will eventually reach the other city and turn around. The whole round trip takes a few hours and you can even make them do another loop in the other half of the day, but you might want to fine tune it to avoid running during a dead hour when there are few passengers.
From then, it’s just a matter of adding more trains into more timeslots that won’t conflict.
It all depends on the length of the route and the number of trains you’re trying to stick on the tracks. I don’t think there’s a way to avoid micromanagement, as this game is about micromanagement. Without it, there would be little left.
As for a mainline with 4 trains running on it, I am assuming it is running off map to at least two locations. The best way to keep trains spaced on such a line is to have two trains depart from the off map cities at [x time] and two more trains at the center most station, each heading outbound at [x-time].
The local trains will be more difficult to deal with– they tend to run slower and more frequently. Use speed limits in heavy traffic areas to keep the express trains from running down the commuters. Keep in mind, you can use a short signal block to implement speed limits without stopping at the signal.
You kind of need to schedule your trains if you want things to work well and not get bunched up. It doesn’t have to be insanely time consuming tho. A simple way to do it is pick one train on the line, and a home station. Give the train a departure schedule from *just that station*, all other stations are just the default wait time. The departure interval should be the time it takes to go around the loop (with a few minutes extra for margin).
Then you just copy that schedule to the other trains on the line and either stagger the departure time, or give each train its own home station with identical times. Which is better depends on how you’re handling deadheading/putting trains to bed at night so freight can run.
If you don’t want to bother with complex deadheading stuff but still want to be able to run freight at night, a simple expedient is give each home station an extra platform that only its own train uses. That way they can just shut down for the night at their home station and the main tracks are instantly free for the entirety of off hours.
A-train is all about setting departure times and stoppage times. if all 4 trains are following the same route have them start at different stations at the same time and they should keep the same separation. to get more options make sure you have turned all the advanced options on within the settings menu. you can also set a “dead head” schedule for each train so if you set the trains operating hours to finish at 10pm you can have the dead head schedule take the train back to its starting location so that each day the train will start at the same place so its ready to go in the morning when the train starts its operating hours.
A lazy way to try to solve this is to determine generic departure times for some stations (especially those located at the borders with other cities). For example, suppose you operate your trains from 5:00 to 23:00 (determined in the “operation hours”). You now enter the train schedule and at each station that you consider important, you set the initial “departure” time to 5:00, choose the interval to 30 minutes, or whatever you prefer, and have the operation repeat 99x. You do this for all trains at each station of interest, and now you force trains to only leave the same platforms every half hour (or other time interval you prefer). So even if for some reason two trains have come close together, when they arrive at this station you will force them to be separated again for at least the time interval you have determined (in the example case, 30 minutes).
It is common for trains to start getting too close together if they are traveling to other cities because of the long distances. If the day’s operation ends when two trains are traveling to the next city, they will both end the day at the same station (neighboring city) and start the next day leaving at the same time. When they arrive in your city, they will be one behind the other. Over time you will observe this phenomenon happening with several trains, especially if you are using a line like the one suggested by the first tutorial.
In the first tutorial, each train is scheduled to depart every 5 minutes after arriving at a station. So if they are both behind each other, when the first train departs, the second train will take up its place on the platform and leave after 5 minutes too. This keeps the interval between trains to only 5 minutes. If you do as I suggested, now when the first train departs and the second takes up its place on the platform, it will have to wait the next half hour to also depart, and now you have forced a 30 minute interval between the two trains.
EDIT: Note that you can achieve the same effect just by increasing the departure time to half an hour, but I don’t like this solution very much because with this you will guarantee that each train will be at least half an hour stopped, which is unnecessary, since only 1 minute is enough for everyone to get on the train. Using the method I explained, if a train arrives at 5:59 in a station, it will leave at 6:00, which is enough for everybody to board. The second train that was right behind this one will be stopped until 6:30, when it will leave as well.