Australian developer Auran have announced that they're working on an update to Trainz, which will be on show at next weeks E3 expo in Los Angeles.

The new version will be called Trainz Railway Simulator 2004, and promises to be much more than just an update to the original Trainz and Ultimate Trainz Collection programs. It will also run on a new version of their critically acclaimed Auran Jet engine, which will allow for significantly enhanced graphics, all offering an even more realistic view of the virtual railway experience.

TRS2004 will allow train fans to drive a choice of locomotives from around the world ranging from steam to modern high-speed electric stock, in a number of pre-built real world locations. The surveyor mode also opens up the scope to design your very own routes by laying track and placing scenic items such as buildings, trees, roads and rivers, allowing you to create highly realistic environments.

Auran CEO Greg Lane explained "Our major goal with TRS2004 is to provide something for every type of train fan. We have improved the driving physics, made our route editor more powerful, provided lat. and long. support for prototypical routes and really strived to bring the whole world to life. You can now interact not only with the trains and junctions, but with the industries too. Goods are visibly loaded and unloaded and industries require and produce resources and goods. All this leads to a greater sense of purpose as to why you are moving the trains around the world. We have even introduced the concept of drivers so that you get to decide who operates which locomotive (or which loco you get to take charge of yourself)".

Further improvements over Ultimate Trainz Collection will include realistic animation of lineside industry and goods loads, with coal dust blowing about when hoppers are loaded and unloaded, and virtual passengers waiting to board your train at the station. Creating scenarios has also been simplified so that you can simply create a virtual railway, set the appropriate industry inputs and outputs as you desire and enter your overall objective, and then perform the tasks as you would in real life.

Tony Hilliam, Auran Marketing Director commented on the announcement of Trainz Railway Simulator 2004, saying that development of the program has been "based on two years of continual product refinement and customer feedback, we believe Auran is poised to gain a major share of this rapidly growing new genre".

Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004 (or Trainz Railway Simulator 2004 in the UK) is expected to be released by the end of 2003, and more details are available on the new railroadsimulator.com website. We'll have further coverage when Auran reveal more details about the new simulator at E3 next week, and hopefully some of the first screenshots of the game in action.

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