The important part of Railroad Tycoon is laying tracks to connect various stations.
On the left, you can choose to lay a single track, a double track, or instead bulldoze. When building a track, click on a location on the map, and drag to the desired destination. The game will snap the endpoint to nearby existing track. If you want to upgrade an existing track, you can draw over the same track with the newer options (e.g. upgrade single to double, or add electric tracks.)
The second column allows you to choose among wooden bridges, stone bridges, and steel bridges (if available). The wood bridge is the cheapest but only supports single tracks, while the other two allow for double tracks. Steel bridges are only found in later years, and are slightly cheaper than stone bridges.
To the right, you can change the options for building tracks. Tunnels refers to how often you want the game to build tunnels as opposed to going across the surface. Bridges allows the game to decide when to build bridges, although it will always create a bridge across water even if set to "never". Overpasses allows building tracks above other tracks. When electric track becomes available, you can toggle that option on or off.
Two buttons on the right. The top-right undoes a recently laid track (refunding costs), and the bottom button allows quickly upgrading all tracks to electric (once available.)
You have a choice of three station sizes. Small for $50K, Medium for $100K, and Large for $200K. The station size determines the "radius" of the station for determining what it can retrieve. Stations can be upgraded later, as long as they are not obstructed.
You can also place service towers, and maintenance facilities. They should be placed to ensure that trains will generally pass through them from time to time.
Non-station buildings can also be built. Four of them, the Hotel, Post Office, Restaurant and Tavern, benefit the Passengers and Mail by either getting additional profit or keeping them around longer.
You can also determine the rotation of the building with the compass on the right. You may also lock the orientation, or allow the game to keep it flexible and rotate it as necessary.
Clicking the add train button opens a dialog box.
The top-left corner displays the information about the selected locomotive- basic details such as cost, maintenance, and so on. The important part is the maximum speed shown below, which you can review by checking the freight, express and mixed buttons.
To change the locomotive, select a different one from the list. Not all locomotives are available depending on the time period.
The map at the top-right gives quick access to add or remove destinations. You can also add them manually by pressing the add station button at the bottom-right, and remove stations that you don't want.
Railroad Tycoon 3 does a good job at automatically choosing cargo for the train. If you want to override this, click the change cargo button. From this window, you can assign a broad category to the train, or manually choose which cars to be loaded at a given station.
This brings up a list of companies, which you can use to make sure the competition remains in check.
The middle button lists all stations under your control, showing how many loads are ready. Double-clicking a station will zoom you to that station, where you can see which loads are ready, allowing you to decide whether to purchase a new train.
This brings up a list of trains, where you can review the loadout, status, and delivery profit. Within this list, you should look out for trains that aren't making too much profit on a delivery, or which are waiting for the track to clear.
Double clicking on a train brings up the train information. You can adjust its route by adding or removing stations, force it to go to a specific station in the route, and check its overall profitability.
When the locomotive is starting to become old (where the breakdown chance increases), you can replace it in this window.
The overview shows the revenue, expenses, interest and profit for the year and lifetime. On this screen, you can also attemt to take over a chairman or resign as chairman.
Bonds shows the amount of debt the company has, along with the credit rating. If the credit rating is at least "B", the company can issue a bond for $500,000 (2% which is spent on underwriting the bond). If the debts becomes overwhelming, the company can declare bankruptcy to shake off some bonds at the cost of the company's credit rating. In general, bonds are useful for quickly raising funds.
Stock shows the details about how the shareholders perceive the company. The most important lines are the share price, and annual dividend. Higher values keep the shareholders happy. In this screen, you can issue stock (only twice per year - raises funds based on current stock price, and drives the stock down), buy back stock (boosts the stock price), change the dividend (an annual payment to shareholders), or attempt a merger with another company.
The last section, Territories, shows which countries permit you to build track in their area. To gain access, you will need to spend an amount of money listed (or in a scenario, fufill the necessary condition.)
You and a few other players are shown here. Each player has an amount of personal cash, which can be used to play on the stock market. They also have purchasing power, which also includes borrowed money which can be used to purchase or sell shares.
You can purchase shares. If you purchase shares on the margin, your cash will become negative, and you will need to make interest payments until cash becomes positive. You can purchase on the margin as long as you have purchasing power, although it's dangerous to use all the purchasing power as a long-term investment. Instead, this should be used only for short term gain (buying shares of another company, then attempting the merger.)
You can also short sell shares. This causes you to personally gain funds, while having negative stock in a company. This is dangerous in the event the other company's stock rises, and should only be used on mis-managed companies.
Note: If your purchasing power becomes negative, you will be forced to sell shares until it becomes positive.
Cargo Supply shows the location of various cargo cars. Cargo will always find a way to profit, even if it takes the slow route of rivers, horseback, or other means of travel. You can look at all cargo to see the positions of cars, or select a specific one to also see profitability (by default, shows red as cheaper prices and green as more expensive.)
Holdings by company gives an overview of who owns what, although this can already be easily determined.
Profitability highlights which industry buildings can be purchased for a profit. Profitable ones are shown in green.
Track grade shows a number on each segment of track. Higher numbers indicate a steeper slope, slowing down the train.
Traffic density shows how often a given piece of track is visited by a train. A red track indicates high traffic and potential for slowdowns - as well as being a candidate for upgrading to double tracks.