Author Topic: Access charges?  (Read 2205 times)

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Offline pwhk

Access charges?
« on: September 28, 2013, 05:45:50 AM »
There is an "Access Charge" item in financing window. What does that mean? How it is increased/decreased?

Offline MCollett

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 06:08:10 AM »
There is an "Access Charge" item in financing window. What does that mean? How it is increased/decreased?

I believe it's the charge paid by vehicles to use ways belonging to another player.  In particular, if you build a road and don't make it private access only, you will receive toll charges paid by private vehicles that use the road, which will show up as income under this heading.

Best wishes,
Matthew

Offline AP

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2016, 05:29:45 PM »
Apologies for resurrecting a very old thread, but I was pondering this functionality today.

If a player builds an expensive feature (e.g. a mountain railway tunnel) which they want to open to all players, rather than run the trains themselves - how are they reimbursed?  How is it decided what price is paid for access?

Clearly some infrastructure is vastly more expensive to build than others, and some infrastructure is vastly more valuable to other players in the market than its construction cost might suggest. Is there an ability, or intended to be a ability, for players owning such routes to set their own tolls? Perhaps starting as a % of the per tile cost of  the route (allowing for earthworks also), but then adjustable e.g. on the basis of convoy speed or convoy weight (which influence total through traffic) or just per-convoy.

I found myself wondering whether a player could operate in a server game solely as an infrastructure entity, rather than a Train Operating Company - mindful both of some early railway companies which did this, and latterly how the uk rail industry operates. Logic suggests this should be possible as it would allow TOCs to spread their capital over a much wider area.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2016, 07:15:42 PM »
Access charges in Simutrans-Experimental depend on simuconf.tab settings. Below is an extract from the simuconf.tab of Pak128.Britain-Ex with explanatory comments:

Code: [Select]
# These settings determine how players pay for running on the ways of other players.
#
# toll_runningcost_percentage apportions the specified percentage of the convoy's
# running cost to the player on whose way the convoy is being run.
#
# toll_waycost_percentage apportions the specified percentage of the way tile's
# monthly maintenance cost (and, for electrically powered convoys, also the specified
# percentage of way objects' monthly maintenance cost) from the convoy for every
# tile of the other player's way over which it passes.
#
# toll_revenue_percentage apportions the specified percentage of the convoy's
# revenue according to the proportion of the journey that the convoy has undertaken
# on the specified player's way. For example, if way_toll_revenue_percentage is set
# to 50, and the convoy travels half its journey over another player's way, that
# other player will receive 25% of the total revenue for that journey.

toll_runningcost_percentage = 0
toll_waycost_percentage = 0
toll_revenue_percentage = 33

# These settings determine how players pay for landing/docking in the ports
# of other players.
#
# airport_toll_revenue_percentage is the percentage of the revenue of
# a trip by aircraft charged to a player landing at another player's
# airport.
#
# seaport_toll_revenue_percentage is the precentage of the revenue
# of a trip by sea charged to a player docking at another player's
# sea port.

airport_toll_revenue_percentage = 20
seaport_toll_revenue_percentage = 15

# If this is set to 1, players will not be charged to use roads owned by the public
# service player. This does not affect other sorts of ways.
# Default: 0

toll_free_public_roads = 1

# If a player has allowed access to its roads to the public player, private
# cars may use those roads. They will pay a toll to do so for every kilometre.
# This is the amount (in simucents: 100 = 1 simucredit; 1 = 1 simucent)
# that the player who owns the road will receive for each km traversed by a
# private car on that road.

private_car_toll_per_km = 1

The revenue percentage model is based on the way in which charges were calculated by the Railway Clearing House.
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Offline AP

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2016, 09:07:09 AM »
I'm not sure just using the revenue % on a per tile basis is the best way. It would work for long bits of rail line.  But a toll bridge or key rail bridge might be a short but highly valuable portion of a journey,  critical to journey times, and should be priced accordingly, not for the tiny distance it represents. The channel tunnel is clearly where most of the cost and value is located on the London to Paris line, so paying the same for track usage in North Kent as under the English Channel wouldn't be right.

The way maintenance option seems better, more appropriate, but it sounds like an expensively engineered route using tunnel and elevated ways tiles will accrue a higher toll_waycost_% than a similar one engineered using terrain alterations (ie higher investment but lower ongoing maintenance)? There is an undo function for terrain editing so doesn't a tile remember how much alteration has been done to it? A variable called something like  toll_investmentcost_% for instance might help?

Perhaps it would be worth allowing players control over the toll settings on a per company basis,  rather than globally.  Different traffic levels will make different settings viable for different players, they should be able to choose?

Alternatively maybe tiles over a certain investment /maintenance cost (possibly a per km average of those currently available?) automatically charge a % of this additional to the convoy revenue %?

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2016, 12:04:39 PM »
As I wrote, the revenue percentage model is based on reality: this was precisely the model (albeit with the rate at what would in Simutrans-Experimental terms be 100%) that the Railway Clearing House used for many decades (from the 1870s until nationalisation in 1948). The idea of a global setting is precisely to emulate the national standards set by the RCH, of which almost all railway companies (and all major railway companies) were members. It would be quite unusual for a bridge to be owned by one company and the rest of the line by another (indeed, it is not clear why this would ever happen), so I do not fully understand the point about bridges and tunnels being not parts of a more substantial line. The system has been chosen to reflect the way that things worked in real life, so, for Pak128.Britain-Ex at least, an alternative system that does not do this is not really an option.

The undo function does not refund, and is very basic, so there are no details stored of the exact works done. The way cost system of toll apportionment is from Standard, and calculating terrain cost would be fiendishly difficult, as it would be virtually impossible to apportion any given tile of terrain alteration to one way rather than another (imagine a cutting with a canal and a road in it, for example).
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Offline AP

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2016, 05:43:28 PM »
I'm not sure I believe it's entirely that simple.

There are plenty of toll bridges on the UK Road network,  who charge a flat rate for crossing.  Two over the Severn estuary.  The tarrif charged doesn't reflect the whole journey undertaken. Plenty of such toll bridges were built by private companies,  often to replace ferries.  Penmanpool bridge,  Swinford bridge, Whitney-on-Wye bridge, Old London Bridge even . They require major investment to build and the toll reflects that.

I presume when private turnpikes were built across the UK, the tolls reflected the construction and maintenance cost, else the company would have gone bust. But they didn't run the wagons.

Since uk rail privatization,  TOCs have operated trains without owning any track. And if they want new track built (eg new line to Oxford) just opened it isn't the TOC who builds it. Open access operation legislation specifically encourages this.

Midland Expressway Ltd built the M6 toll and charges users flat rates not rates based on profitability of their whole journey.

Ultimately if you don't want players sharing infrastructure,  leave it as it is. If you do,  you need to ensure that a player who builds a particularly clever or costly bit of engineering is able to recover fair cost for sharing it (and losing competitive advantage for sharing it ). If you don't,  the risk is route duplication (if affordable) or non construction (if only fair sharing tolls could yield enough cash to cover high construction costs eg a mountain line )

Consider particularly all the Joint railway companies of the c19th, where one company managed the permanent way, another the rolling stock (eg Somerset & Dorset)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 06:02:09 PM by AP »

Offline AP

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2016, 05:58:27 PM »
Consider the following example: two long independent railway lines operate in parallel fertile mountain valleys.  A third player builds an expensively engineered mountain line between the two.

Under your system of tolls, whichever of the 3 players runs the through trains,  most of the tolls will go to the lines in the valleys, who make minimal investment to accommodate the traffic. The mountain line which enabled all the extra profit barely gets any. Certainly not enough to give a good return on the investment.

Foreseeing this,  the enterprising company decides not to build the route,  even though it would generate ample profit for all 3 players. And even though the valley players would willingly pay higher fees for the extra revenue it would generate overall.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2016, 07:29:25 PM »
To an extent, of course, the simulation of reality has to be simplified in a game like this - the trick is getting the right quality and quantity of simplification. As I wrote above, it is beyond any reasonable coding effort to take into account the civil engineering cost of terrain works for traversing any particular way. As to turnpike trusts, do you have any historical data as to the basis on which they charged and whether the charges per mile varied significantly based on the actual cost of construction? The difficulty is that a system in which different sorts of infrastructure (possibly at different times in history) have totally different sorts of access charges will be very confusing to players, and will be very difficult to implement in the code.

I have adopted the Railway Clearing House model because that was a universal system that endured for a very long time and related to what was at the time the most important means of communication. Indeed, nearly the same system was used for canals, too. In "British Canals: an illustrated history" (Charles Hadfield, David & Charles, Newton Abbott, 1966), the author wrote this:

"The revenue of canal companies chiefly arose from the tolls charged at the rate of so many pence per ton mile carried... The charges were lowest for bulk commodities such as coal, culm (slack for lime-burning) and limestone, higher for more valuable bulk cargoes such as iron ore, and higher still for finished goods like iron-castings, and for groceries and general merchandise." (p. 69)

Until 1845, canals were prohibited by Act of Parliament from charging more to use one part of the canal than another, or from discriminating between users (other than by types of cargo carried).

Trying to implement the modern system for UK railways (which relies on a fantastically complex inter-relation of various private companies, state controlled companies, subsidies and payments to the state) would not be feasible as it would require a full simulation of the entire political infrastructure that underpins it (it is not a system that could ever arise by commerce alone). In any event, that system is seriously defective and only exists and is maintained for illegitimate political reasons.

I should note that, for private cars, which do not, of course, run for profit, there is a separate system: see the separate setting private_car_toll_per_km and the comments for it.

As to joint railway companies, these involved actual joint ownership, and that is fundamentally distinct from a system in which one player pays a fee for accessing another player's ways. In the case of joint ownership, both owners would share in the profits as well as the costs of operation, so a system in which the toll is based on the infrastructure cost would not simulate this any better than a toll based on a percentage of revenue in any event.

It would certainly be odd to have implemented a system that is at odds with the well known and standardised RCH system and similar canal system that went before it.

As to whether players have any incentive to allow for sharing of infrastructure, would checking for this not require a precise numerical analysis of whether infrastructure sharing of the type that was actually used in reality (e.g. the trains that ran from London to Edinburgh before 1923 using three different railway companies' lines, albeit usually changing locomotives and crews when they crossed the boundaries) would not be economically viable in the simulation as it is now? That, of course, could only be done after final price balancing had been achieved, which, in turn, is some way off.
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Offline killwater

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2016, 08:38:02 PM »
Just a short note - toll must take into account the way wear factor. It costs way more in track restoration when heavy coal train uses the track rather than small electric passenger train.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2016, 08:47:56 PM »
Just a short note - toll must take into account the way wear factor. It costs way more in track restoration when heavy coal train uses the track rather than small electric passenger train.

This is not how it worked with the RCH system - but some operators did impose restrictions as to what may travel upon lines. These restrictions can be emulated by asking players to abide by the restrictions using the in-game chat and withdrawing access privileges from any who fail to comply.
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Offline Vladki

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2016, 10:33:48 PM »
I just went to page of szdc.cz - the state owned czech railway infrastructure maintenance company. They only take care of the track, signalling, buildings, etc, but do not operate any trains. All operators pay them according to complex formula, which I would try to describe here:

They have 3 price categories of track: E, C, R - probably - European corridors, (C) main lines, Regional lines
Part of the payment is based purely on distance travelled (different fares for passengers and cargo):
Pax: E: 7.81 CZK/km, C: 6.49 CZK/km, R: 5.50 CZK/km
Cargo: E: 36.10 CZK/km, C: 35.33 CZK/km, R: 33.19 CZK/km

Another part is based on distance and weight including cargo (different fares for pax/cargo).
Pax: E: 44.77 CZK/1000t/km, C: 35.59 CZK/1000t/km, R: 30.16 CZK/1000t/km
Cargo: E: 49.24 CZK/1000t/km, C: 43.88 CZK/1000t/km, R: 33.60 CZK/1000t/km

There is an extra charge of cca 10% for using diesel engines with bad emissions on electrified tracks.

So if you sum it up and convert to simutrans terms - the charge is roughly based on:
1) distance
2) weight
3) way-wear (cargo has more way-wear than pax) - but that could be summed under 2). Perhaps the price is adjusted politically. (SŽDC is subsided by goverment and in permanent red numbers)
4) maintenance and build costs - main lines are usually higher speed, and better maintained than regional lines, but the difference is not very high.

On the other hand they do not care about your revenue... Also the price does not distinguish if you go through mountains with tunnels and bridges or not. It would be a real problem to calculate properly. But it should not be a problem in simutrans.

Motorway toll is based on distance, emissions, truck/bus and number of axles (i.e. weight or way wear). The price does not differentiate class of road, but is collected only on motorways and some main roads. (Thus often avoided by using secondary roads). Private cars (< 3.5 tons) pay flat yearly rate for using motorways. Plus there is a road tax (for businesses), that is based on max weight of vehicle, payed yearly ignoring how much yo use the vehicle.

So I think there should be an option to charge toll based on the weight of vehicles.


Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2016, 12:11:03 AM »
Would you base the toll on the weight or the wear? The two do not have a linear relationship to one another, so one could not easily use one as the proxy of another. It would seem to be duplicative to account for both factors. For build/maintenance costs, there is the complexity of the extent to which civil engineering should be taken into account, and for maintenance, there is the issue of electricity use. How would the information as to what the toll is be conveyed to the player?

Generally, the sort of system that you describe is popular in modern times, whereas the RCH style of system was traditionally more popular in the past (and for a very long time). The difficulty is that it is not feasible to have one system for one time and another for another, not least because this would be very confusing for players and would, at the cut-off point, disrupt existing arrangements.
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Offline Vladki

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2016, 08:06:06 AM »
Using wear factor makes more sense for the infrastructure owner, as it more closely relates to expenses for track/road renewal. However, it is quite hard do describe to player (train operator). Perhaps each vehicle in depot should have this info displayed, and also in convoi details.

Using weight is more strightforward and could be implemented in standard as well.

Toll rates could be displayed in finances window.

I think that the modern toll systems try to accout for way wear. Thats why they have different rates for pax/cargo, 2/3/4-axle trucks while keeping the formulas simple and based only on easily measurable distance and weight.

I do not ask for changing the toll rate during the game, but for an option to set it e.g. for different pakset or netwirk game.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2016, 10:45:45 AM »
The trouble is that a system based simply on weight (i.e. where the payment scaled linearly with weight) would bear little relationship to the way wear caused by the vehicle owing to the exponential nature of this relationship (the fourth power law on roads, a simple exponential relationship on other types), and would make no sense at all for canals, where the weight of the boats is irrelevant to maintenance cost. There is also the issue of how actually to calibrate a charge based on either way wear or weight; one can set a toll to be a proportion of maintenance costs or a proportion of revenue, but how would it work for way wear/weight?
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Offline AP

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2016, 01:05:29 PM »
Surely the maintenence cost is by definition a good proxy for wear factor.  Allowing also for degradation due to weather,  to substructure not just rails etc.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2016, 02:11:53 PM »
Surely the maintenence cost is by definition a good proxy for wear factor.  Allowing also for degradation due to weather,  to substructure not just rails etc.

Ahh, no: the maintenance cost is fixed per month, and does not depend on wear. Wear determines when a way has to be renewed. Renewal happens every 20 or so years (depending on the robustness of the way and usage), and may well be renewed with a different sort of way than that which was there previously. Renewal is considered a capital cost, as the cost of building a new way (minus the forge cost) is what is charged to the player on renewal.
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Offline Ves

Access charges?
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2016, 03:39:41 PM »
If I may contribute without any real life knowledge to how I think it could be:

These options are player decisions, that means that each player has a window where one can specify which method they prefer:

Default: revenue based, like you say it works in Great Britain.
Option: way wear based, like vladki and other suggests.

In addition, the private road sign should keep its current  behavior but also have an option to charge any passing traffic in one direction (this means that the sign has to be nonbidirectional) in additional to the earlier mentioned cost (way wear or revenue based). I.e., a player can decide that it costs 100cr to pass the private sign.

This way, a player can make his own decision and also charge players extra money for that expensive mountain passage or bridge.
To prevent abuse (i.e. A player suddenly rises the costs extremely on lended out lines while other players are away) one could make that any change in the pricing is delayed a year or so, giving other players a chance to react.

The server owner should be able to disable any of the access charges methods on server start.

All the information on which of the two payment methods are in use at another player should be visible in the same window as where you set your payment method. Also a waytile could show wether it is the one or the other method.
Clicking on another players private road sign would show how much that costs to pass.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2016, 06:17:12 PM »
I do worry that these suggestions would be exceedingly complicated both to implement and to use, and it would be unclear to players how way tolls actually work. In reality, there was not at any one time any significant variance in the method of charging, as noted above in relation to the RCH and canals.

Also, it is not at all clear to me how a way wear based charging system might be calibrated. If there were a straightforward and sensible way of calibrating this, then simply adding this as a further option in simuconf.tab alongside the existing options there would not be too hard, but a fully customisable (in real time) charging system would be a huge project.
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Offline AP

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2016, 06:45:39 PM »
Could we just for now change the default so toll_waycost_% is factored in more,  rather than zero as at present,  so that there is at least a crude recognition of construction cost. Factoring it in universally would be presumably easy to implement. Would it be hard to make it conditional on the waycost itself, ideally you'd only do it when the waycost was higher (than normal). That would crudely cover costs.

I'm not familiar with the wear mechanism so unsure if this would crudely be fair or not.

I'm sympathetic to considerations of coding effort vs reward,  but the current arrangement, realistic or not for UK rail, doesn't seem adequate imo.

Offline killwater

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2016, 06:57:28 PM »
It is already calculated how much a convoy wear the road and the game know the type of the road. So if we divide the wear inflicted by convoy by the maximum wear for the given type of the road and multiply by the cost of the way  it should give us a rough estimate to use?

WearPartOfToll = WayCost x (WayWearInflicted / MaxWearOfWayType)

Offline AP

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2016, 07:41:05 PM »
In addition, the private road sign should keep its current  behavior but also have an option to charge any passing traffic in one direction (this means that the sign has to be nonbidirectional) in additional to the earlier mentioned cost (way wear or revenue based). I.e., a player can decide that it costs 100cr to pass the private sign.

Whilst I'm tempted to like this idea, which very much tallies with my original post, noting the subsequent remarks from others, I can see that having a player-editable toll sign changes the mechanic to a market situation where players have to tinker with settings to find out how much their route is worth to other players, and figure out what is good value at any moment. It increases micromanagement, and I'm not sure that's necessarily the approach that is wanted? Fun as it might be.

The core of my concern - the reason I raised the subject - was I suppose about equitable compensation (and adverse effects from lack thereof)- About better defining what "equitable" is in this case.

Offline Vladki

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2016, 10:37:10 PM »
I support killwaters suggesion. That should cover the building costs of road when it wears out and needs replacement. However there should be some small margin to allow profit for infrastructure owner, and another part of payment to cover maintenance costs. Perhaps also scaled by way wear.

It could be just a switch extending the current tolls - either static percentage of way cost/maintenance or dynamic based on wear

Offline Junna

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2016, 03:07:16 AM »
The modern way of doing it with the "infrastructure separation" -- a daft idea to begin with -- is quite different from what was generally used at any point prior. If a person wish to change the settings that exist

toll_runningcost_percentage = 0
toll_waycost_percentage = 0
toll_revenue_percentage = 33

by making it cost some of the waycost, it works quite well for example for tolled roads, and city cars will pay for driving on them (though regrettably, a company that does not operate vehicles seem to get liquidated as defunct for me, though I thought I disabled this...)

At no point in history are railway bridges treated like tolled road bridges however, and where shifty financing mechanisms are used, it typically works more like 'shadow tolls' than a conventional road toll.

Offline killwater

Re: Access charges?
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2016, 12:49:14 PM »
I am strongly against the player adjusted toll on way entering points. Everyone would have to constantly check if other players did not change the toll on any of the ways. This would render the game unplayable.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Access charges?
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2016, 02:28:40 PM »
I see that this has generated quite a lengthy discussion. Killwater's computation suggestion might well be workable as an additional means of toll computation to be applied by discretion alongside or in the alternative to the other existing mechanisms, although there are a number of higher priority coding projects at present.

I am not sure that I understand the suggestion relating to the default, since the default can easily be changed. Might the problem be that the revenue percentage at 33% is too low and that it ought to be 50% or even the historically accurate 100%? It is difficult really to understand the nature of the underlying problem without more detail and precision on what people believe that it is. Is the problem confined to it not being viable to have separated infrastructure and vehicle ownership for rail, or is it more than that? If the former, then I do not see this as a problem, as that is a peculiarly modern phenomenon that could only exist as a result of quite an extreme and unwarranted degree of state intervention. Politics aside, that level of state intervention (i.e. by the public player) is not workable in Simutrans owing to the amount of effort that it would take by whoever acts as the public player in a network game (thus, the whole world must be set up to run on lassiez faire principles as much as possible). In a single player game, it is irrelevant in any case, as one player does everything.

I do agree with Killwater's concern about the micromanagement of a system relating to a customisable system with private gates: we really do not want players to have to get out a calculator or spreadsheet to be able to play this game well.
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