In Bounty Train, it is possible to earn money in several ways. This guide provides you with pros and cons of individual profitable activities. You do not really have to stick with one, selected, way of profiting and you can change your "business activity" at any moment or profit from more than one activity. You should realize that, up until big cities are unlocked, and better machines become available, any activity is marked by low profit.
This is the basic way to profit. You simply transport goods between cities, buy cheap and sell dear. To be effective in this type of activity, you have to subscribe to the local newspaper in every city. Thanks to this, you keep abreast of current trends. This business activity involves careful analysis of the market and prices. At first, this is not a profitable one, but the situation changes after you buy bigger carriages and strong locomotives. You should realize that by dragging goods onto the part below the train, you store them in your storage for later use.
Trading on your own rewards you with higher reputation in the city that you supply with goods. You can slightly increase your income by transporting smuggling (to learn more, see the chapter entitled Smuggling, below). In the long run, you will have to decide if you want to carry fewer, but heavy goods (such as steel), or you want to carry more (e.g. two carriage load) of light material, such as cotton. The former requires high financial deposits, whereas the latter requires you to follow current events and spot your chance to earn.
The best solution is to use camps at the railway side, where you will, nearly always, sell specific goods for good money and buy them cheaply. This virtually guarantees profit. However, the condition is that you have to maintain, at least, neutral relationship with a given faction, which is why robbing them does not go hand in hand with purchasing from them. The risk you take, while transporting your cargo, are bandit raids. At first, they are few and far between, but with time it is often better to try and escape the bandits or pay them off to prevent them from destroying your cargo.
City hall missions
Another type of business activity are city hall jobs. They always have a duration, the income can be sizeable, but at first, before you gain better reputation in a given city, these contracts will be small ones and with low payment. They can consist in the necessity to transport goods from one city to another, or they may require you to act of your own accord and deliver goods to the city from any source. It is a good idea to combine these with your market activity, because initially, you will be delivering goods with a part of your train empty.
It is a good practice to cover the distances between certain locations in a straight line and to strive for better reputation only in several cities, where you can quickly unlock more profitable contracts. Also, it is best to cover long distances, while loaded up, without taking any stops. This will save you time.
Sometimes, you can receive a contract from the post office, to deliver a letter to a specific city, as quickly as possible. Your payment will depend on how quickly you can do that: you receive the base bay with deductions for each day of delay, starting on the date on which you accepted the contract. However, you should do this as a part-time activity. You can earn pretty much on delivering letters, if your train is fast and you do not tug any carriages, but individual contracts will not come one after another.
Passenger transport is difficult. It is best to take interest in it only after you have unlocked many routes and cities. On the other hand, however, this does not require strong locomotives, although it is a good idea to attach a small cargo carriage to passenger ones (luggage of some of the passengers). This activity is not too profitable at the beginning of the game and it will take some time before you gain a number of important clients. Also, it is a good idea to wait for such events as epidemics, when people pay more to get out of a city.
This activity should be treated as temporary - occasionally, you can attach two more passenger carriages and take several trips over longer distances, from station to station, while taking on more and more passengers. The upside of this solution is that this decreases the risk of being robbed, as well as it involves the probability that the passengers will help you in combat.
If your reputation with bandits is high, while at a train station at night, you can also agree to transport outlaws (names given in red), who pay quit a sum to get out of the city. However, you should make sure that the carriage will be crowded, because sometimes you can be controlled by law enforcement and your client may be arrested (which involves financial repercussions for you).
Side contracts make a good alternative when you finally become tired with monotony. In nearly every city, there are people, with their names in white, at the train station. They give you storyline jobs and they often are very complicated. When it comes to profitability, it varies - may of the contracts, even in the initial Northern cities, require you to unlock long routes to complete the contracts. The same variety goes for payments. To learn more and not to lose time over jobs of low profitability, see the chapter entitled Side contracts list, contained in this guide. There, the jobs have been described in short and provided with profits you may expect from them.