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Today, the development and integration of train and ship controllers is a more difficult task than ever. Emergence of high-power switching devices has enabled the development of new solutions with improved controllability and efficiency. It has also increased the necessity for more stringent test and integration capabilities since these new topologies come with less design experience on the part of the system designers. To address this issue, a real-time simulator can be a very useful tool to test, validate and integrate the various subsystems of modern rail vehicle devices. This paper presents such a real-time simulator, based on commercial-off-the-shelf PC technology, suitable for the simulation of train and ship propulsion devices. The requirements for rail/water vehicle test and integration reaches several levels on the control hierarchy from low-level power electronic converters used for propulsion and auxiliary systems to high-level supervisory controls. This paper places great emphasis on the real-time simulation of several high-power drives used for train and ship propulsion, including a multi-induction machine drive, a three-level GTO - PMSM drive and a high-power thyristor-based converter - synchronous machine drive. All models are designed first with the SimPowerSystems blockset and then automatically compiled and run on commercial PCs under RT-LAB. Interfaces to I/O are also made at the Simulink model level without any low-level coding required by the user. Supervisory control integration and testing can also be made using the RT-LAB real-time simulator. The other objective of this paper is to demonstrate that HIL testing of complex drives, such as the those found on trains, can be done using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software and hardware and model-based design techniques that only require high-level system models suitable for system specifications down to controller test and final system integration.