How it works: City consumption

Dear railways friends,

Today I would like to explain which factors influence the goods consumption of a city in Rail Nation.

A city consumes goods every 15 minutes. But how many tons are required and what are the factors that determine the amount that is consumed? Many Rail Nation players have asked about this. Today I would like to give you a detailed explanation.

In total, there are six parameters that influence the goods consumption of a city:

  1. Type of good
  2. Game progress
  3. Number of active connected players
  4. Required vs other goods
  5. Maximum consumption
  6. Endgame

Rail Nation Browsergame City Consumption

I’ll now address each of these parameters in more detail.

1. Type of good

Each good has a set base consumption (see table), e.g. coal has 18%. That means every 15 minutes, 18% of the stock will be deducted. If 10,000 tons of coal are in stock, 1,800 tons will be consumed and 8,200 tons will remain.

Resources here have a higher consumption than products that require one or more incoming goods.

Some examples:

Era 1: grain 18%, boards 14%, iron 13%, leather 12%
Era 2: pastries 14%, textiles 12%, hardware 11%
Era 3: quartz 14%, glass 13%, wire 12%, packaging 12%
Era 4: stainless steel 13%, silicon 12%, lamps 11%
Era 5: household supplies 14%, bauxite 12%, food 11%
Era 6: all goods of this era have a consumption rate of 15%

2. Game progress

The base consumption is multiplied by a factor representing the game’s progress. A level will be calculated that the cities should normally have reached according to the time passed. The actual value will then be compared to this calculated value. If the level of a city exceeds the calculated value, the coefficient is greater than 1 and the city’s consumption increases. If a city is trailing and the coefficient is smaller than 1, the city’s consumption will decrease.

The increase in consumption is not linear, so a doubled city level does not result in double the consumption.


The game round is in era three, the game has run for 35 days.

City A is at level 28 and requires copper (base consumption 12%)
City B is at level 14 and requires textiles (base consumption 12%)

Consumption in city A would be 16.67%, whereas in city B it would only be 10.26%.

3. Number of active connected players

First of all, it’s important to note that each player who is connected to the city through their railway network, and who has been online at least once within the last three days, influences city consumption. The more active players are connected to a city, the higher its consumption. However, consumption increases only very moderately as more players connect to a city.

If a player doesn’t log into their account for three days or has a sitter working on the account, the number of active connected players decreases and so does a city’s consumption. For the consumption calculation, it is irrelevant whether or not a player actually delivers goods to that city or whether they have connected other cities as well.


Let’s take city B from the previous example. With 100 connected active players, the consumption will be 10.26%. If the number of connected active players doubles to 200, consumption will increase to 11.81%.

4. Required vs other goods?

The rates mentioned in the examples above apply to goods required for city growth. The consumption of other goods is halved.

5. Maximum consumption

The maximum consumption is 30%. This value cannot be exceeded.

6. Endgame

During the endgame, consumption of all goods is the same. The base consumption is 15%.

The endgame’s progress also influences consumption. For each city, the system calculates since when it has been a megacity, and how many goods have already been fully delivered. The more goods that have been pushed through in a short time, the higher the consumption will become. Here, the influence of the game’s progress is greater than during the other stages of the game.

The connected and active players have the same influence on consumption as during the normal game.

The maximum consumption increases to 80% during the endgame.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the bowels of the calculations running in the background. Please understand that I cannot disclose the exact formulas used.

Wishing you loads of fun with the game,


  1. Thank you for a well laid out explanation. How about doing one on demand levels similarly? (smiles)


    • What do you want to know about demand levels? It’s just a fix number based on the level you’re at.
      So if you open the city screen for all cities on your current server, you can see the demand amount (dotted line) for a lot of the levels already.

  2. This is lovely information, thank you for posting it.

    Now that the curtain has been drawn back, is it an issue to know all the formulas.
    #1 Great examples, could we have all of them pls?
    #2 How is the expected game progress level calculated?
    #3 Is there also a baseline (if so what is the formula) for expected pop by age or some other factor?
    #6 What is the baseline for expected goods closed / hr (I take it when the city started the playoffs, not when the #1 city started).

    Also a general question is there any differences with the two scenarios used today. Our first round of East v West, the playoffs seem to take longer. Not sure if any of these calculations effected that.

    Again, thank you very much.

  3. Excellent! The Bostonians of Golden Gate (US) were just talking about some of our observations about how consumption worked. This confirms and debunks a few things. Thanks for the info :)

  4. Thanks for the info. “#1 Great examples, could we have all of them pls?” +1 from me. We still will not know the rest of the formula exactly, so knowing this one coefficient in full should not make much damage to your secrets)

  5. What about dividing locos to required goods? Does city count it to consumption?

    • The article starts with the 6 parameters that influence the consumption, and this is not one of those 6, so I would say that it doesn’t impact.

  6. Things about endgame strategy I dislike. One strategy is prevailing nowadays: numbers beat organization. Here how it works:
    1) We cool down the industries as much as possible. We park all engines in the city and allow no one to haul some resources.
    2) We get a bunch of people and throw them at only one industry. Everyone will haul at zero-second wait for 1 hour. We must push the resource completely in this one hour. If we don’t, well, we have problems… little problems.
    3) Then we change to another cooled industry and scheme goes on.
    4) Nearest resources can be done by two per hour, the more distant ones by one per hour depending on the number of people. If the number of people is not enough and the resource was not pushed at once, well, too bad. We try to get even more people, cool down the industry and try again after hour. For most indomitable industries we can repeat the process of cooling and hauling to build up from that little remainder that city consumption inevitably leaves us – only here city consumption amount have great effect.
    5) If we get some stubborn industry that can not be cooled down, we just rape it using people sleeping in offline, and in some time the resource will be pushed fully despite the industry overload is at 300% cap. Numbers allow this.
    All the organization here is to cool down the industries in some order; to shout at everyone to go off the industries; and to go to the nearest cities before the Final to invite more people (not much diplomacy in this, people will come gladly to the leading city by themselves – everyone wants to win).
    And here are the far-reaching consequences.
    1) People become to stockpile into the biggest cities approx. in the end of Era2. We have abandoned zombie cities in result, during most part of the game. “The sooner we will start the better will be the result”, players think.
    2) We do not have a competition between many cities to get into top-10 in the Final. Instead we know which cities will be the first top3-top5 long before the Final. Top 5-10 places are not relevant because there are much less people in them as in leading cities. Additionally, they will start later. So there are only 3-5 possible finalists instead of 10. There is no much challenge in such a competition.
    3) Noone use alternative strategies. Noone try to get to alternative industries, noone fills the warehouse before the Final and hauls from there later. Noone uses industry chains for feeding. What for if we have zero-second wait already? Noone calculates stuff and distribute powers correspondingly. And it is frustrating to be smarter, richer in strategy, and to lose to the numerous.
    I can think about only one counter strategy now: to send some spies to the competitor city and do not allow the locals to cool the industry totally. But the effort is not worth the result: little number of people will not load all the industries enough, and the power we send to spoil another city’s efforts is the power we subtract from our own city. And the own city still follows the same strategy.
    Now devs try to fix the situation. But players will always simplify.
    – We have the bigger storage for Top1 city, and lesser for Top2, etc. Make the storage even bigger, and people will unite into the bigger pack. We will have zombie cities in the end of Era1.
    – Consumption cap is at 80%. Well, who cares? Make it even bigger, it will not matter, because the resource is mostly hauled in full in 1 hour, so the city consumption is never in effect. Try to guess what will people do to beat the high consumption rate for sure? Right. They will pile up. We will have one top city with all the server population in it as an ideal situation :) In addition players will find the city with the closest & easiest resources after some time and will always start there. (Hello, Dallas and Denver!)
    – Make trailing cities start earlier. Not much use, the number of people is that factor that makes strategy work.
    – Devs can tune up the consumption rate coefficient related to the number of people we now know about. That will change almost nothing. Maybe people will find the optimal size for the city to have, or just most of the time top4 city will win. Maybe after some hard work devs will make this one to be in balance for all the cities. But the poor strategy itself will not change.
    I have a proposition to start with. Instead of tuning the consumption itself, why not make changes in another place first? Let’s make the industry level growth recalculation happen not once per hour, but four times more often. Instead of +20% growth per hour @250% load, let it be +5% every 15 minutes, for example. This 15 minutes growth interval will come in line with 15 minutes city consumption interval, and resource amount hauled for 15 minute zero-second wait interval will almost never be enough to beat the consumption – maybe except if the entire server’s population will be in one city :) The industries’ overload now will work as intended, and the players will use more fair conditions they prepared themselves during all the previous game. This change can be even more powerful if to shift both 15 minutes intervals relative to each other. And after that change other changes may be performed to fine-tune the new strategies players will have to find.

  7. It could be an option to reverse the advance of the cities in the endgame.
    So city 10 starts first and city 1 starts last to give everyone a fair chance.
    As I have heard the highest ranked city starts some hours earlier and have a higher chance of winning the game.
    But like in golf the lower ranking cities actually starts with a handicap like less players connected- tough placement of goods ect.
    And on top of that they will start AFTER the leading city.
    Come on it is a game… be fair.
    See it as formula 1 the first car start with an advance of 1 round before the other cars are alloved to move :-)

    • It is the city storage amount that matters here. Though trailing cities start later, they have lesser amount to haul; and lower population coefficiend (and thus city consumption) helps them too.

  8. Absolutely bonkers. As I read it the better you do in end-game the more you get punished. Better be a slagging idiot town than a well oiled mashine

    • ohh and about the connected players having an effect on consume aswell. Not even half of the players connected haul to the city. Rest are there to spy, to chat, to “in case of” and so on. So why let that affect the consume?

  9. If the competition itself is not a level playing field, where all parties involved are not subject to the same criteria, then it is unfair, and not an actual competition. Increasing the difficulty for those that do well and making it easier for those that do not makes no sense at all and renders any effort to do well in the endgame or earlier for city rank pointless if you will get punished for it.

  10. A smallish thing to improve in calculating consumption rate – please include the (shortest) path of given industry to city in the calculation. As position of most industries is random, there are several “hard to get” goods in each city, sometimes as early as in era 1 (e.g. cotton can be 2-4 tracks, maybe even 5) and that can hinder the city as opposed to other cities.
    Given the players’ attitude of moving to “easier” cities (those having top10 rank) instead of pushing that culprit good out of RG table, this would greatly help playability for those who want to fight rather than flee.

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