I enjoy playing crayon rails games solo. After each move, I write the turn number on the board next to the track, so at the end of the game I can see how many turns it took me to hit the winning dollar amount. As a bonus, I can see where I went.
Since there are so many house rules and variants, I have to start off by saying that I played with the official base rules except for:
1. I use the "Build-Move-Draw Cards" sequence. But I don't add the "discard one card" rule from Empire Express (I like that rule in EE, but not in the larger games).
2. I allow loans, repayable asap at 100% interest.
The last few times I have played, I have had disappointing scores, taking 70+ turns, or in one case a horrifying 94. Tonight was different. Very different.
I started with Moscow-Tiblisi-Ashkhabad-Tashkent, and had to take out a $3 loan ($6 to pay it off) to get to Ashkhabad for the first delivery (passengers). The income for that plus the tea was $67.
Then (turn 10), I upgraded to a 9/3 and took cotton and a silk over to Odessa and Kishenev ($86), getting down under $5 before those deliveries. I had another cotton that I had brought with me, that I was planning to take to Vilna, but I ended up delivering it to Moscow for $31 instead (to avoid building track). On turn 20, I upgraded to a 12/3 train.
Then I took caviar to Alma-Ata for $32, and then came back with the cotton for Vilna and caviar for Riga, for another $71. While out west, Moscow wanted goods ($16) and an event had 2 goods to Leningrad for $20, so I did all those. I got hit with one derailment, but it only cost me about 1.5 turns.
Heading back east, I took tobacco to Ashkhabad and tea to Frunze ($60). A quick run to Tashkent with textiles I already had with me gave me $12, bringing me up to $245 in 49 turns. Doh! So close! I had to flush my hand once to get silk to Erivon for $22 and the win.
I only built $172 of track, which is very low. From Alma-Ata to Erivon and Tiblisi, then through Volograd to Moscow. (I also built a spur to Kuybuyshev that I never used). From Moscow there was a spur to Leningrad, and one to Kiev. From Kiev there was a spur through Odessa to Kishenev, and another through Minsk and Vilna to Riga. That's all!!