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I see an urban area that has a lot of "abandoned railroad tracks" shown and labelled. The map shows the abandoned tracks crossing roads and going right through buildings but there have not been any tracks there for +15 years. I assumed that abandoned railway tracks means that there are actually real abandoned tracks there, not something historical that doesn't exist anymore. Am I right? (and if I am, that means that I should delete those tracks which don't actually exist, right?)

asked 06 Sep '12, 20:17

gopanthers's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


In addition to what others said, I would say that you seem to think of the tracks only as a railway track, but remember that a railway also includes the embankments/bed, which can still be there if the tracks are removed.

(07 Jul '16, 17:15) robinottawa

OSM does not keep historic objects. This is part of the "on the ground" rule that say that a feature have to be on the ground for you to map it. You are safe to delete the dismantled railway tracks and potentialy send a message to the original contributor.

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answered 06 Sep '12, 22:21

Gnonthgol's gravatar image

Gnonthgol ♦
accept rate: 16%


The common view is that if no physical signs of the object (in this case, the railway right of way) remain then it doesn't belong in the database. For an abandoned track which has been completely obliterated by development (e.g. parking lots and buildings) this would lead to deleting the part where you have verified it no longer exists. If you have only verified that part of it no longer exists you should split the way and only delete the part that you have verified.

Keep in mind that the signs of a former railway can be subtle and often not seen from aerial imagery.

You can read up on the spirited history of railway=abandoned on the talk-us@ mailing list.

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answered 06 Sep '12, 22:23

pnorman's gravatar image

accept rate: 18%


Whatch out for old pieces of rails in the middle of the street, left and filled with asfalt, barely recognisable. But what to do with the old foundation of the railwaytrack, if its there its still the old railwaytrack isnt it ?

(06 Sep '12, 22:52) Hendrikklaas

If a railway that has been dismantled is improperly tagged with "abandoned", then fix the tagging by setting it to railway=dismantled. Do not delete railways just because you can't see them. Maybe the evidence of the railway's existence is not visible to you.

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answered 29 Dec '14, 18:31

RussNelson's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Please use railway=razed for this.

(26 Oct '18, 16:18) Druzhba

Hmm. The lingua franca of OSM is British English and “dismantled” would be more common there.

(26 Oct '18, 23:04) Richard ♦

Some mappers love historic stuff so it shoild be left alone. If correctly tagged it probably won't render (or show) on the main maps but it can be seen when editing and used by history fans for their maps or research. Some dismantled lines are now cycle routes and long footpaths, I wish they all were.

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answered 07 Jul '16, 19:16

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%

edited 07 Jul '16, 19:16

Keep in mind that there's more to a railroad than the rails. With one example I'm familiar with, abandoned about half a century ago, much of the ten miles of former track has been turned into hiking trails, and the routing is blindingly obvious on the ground: the gravel bed is still there, as are the foundations for some of the signaling equipment. Even the areas that aren't trails, it's still fairly clear that something was there: bridge abutments, collapsed tunnel portals, parallel rows of trees lining an inexplicable clearing, a twenty-foot-deep chasm carved through solid rock, and so on.

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answered 10 Jul '16, 09:12

Carnildo's gravatar image

accept rate: 40%

I've tried to add multiple "types" to old railway lines but can't figure out how to do it.

Isn't it accurate to label a stretch of old railway bed as "Abandoned RR" and "Service Road" as well as additional types?

(11 Jul '16, 20:08) robinottawa

Which editor are you using? In JOSM, it's easy to add both "railway=abandoned" and "highway=service" (or the more common situation of "railway=abandoned" and "highway=cycleway").

(12 Jul '16, 05:33) Carnildo

Although an abandoned railway leaves distinctive features which are not rails, most of these should be mapped for what they are: embankment, cutting, bridge, footway, cycleway.

For example, this bridge and the connecting paths used to be a railway (abandoned in 1970s) - nowadays, there's nothing at all on the ground that would warrant newly adding a railway=abandoned tag to the path. The bridge is there, as are the embankments, but nothing in particular says "railway" besides the distinctive embankment width

OTOH: this railway spur has moved down from active to abandoned, relatively recently (see also the shift from active to disused on the connected network) - it wouldn't make sense to remove the tag, even though it wasn't converted into anything:

So, IMHO, I wouldn't create a new way for an abandoned RR, but if an existing way gets converted into a cycleway, just switch the tag to rail=abandoned, as has happened here:

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answered 12 Jul '16, 13:02

Piskvor's gravatar image

accept rate: 37%

In addition to all the points mentioned over the years there is one more addition that can be done here. I found this recently while working on railway networks. Most of the times the abandoned tracks also have the highway tags [highway=track or highway=cycleway] associated with them. In small towns and forest areas these abandoned tracks may still exist physically and in addition that path might have been converted as a cycle track or a walk-way for hikes. Hence even if OSM database stores the entities are physically present but also combine them with new usage scenarios. Example, Cycle Path #121539221 and Track #169329219.

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answered 26 Oct '18, 14:49

user1894's gravatar image

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question asked: 06 Sep '12, 20:17

question was seen: 7,532 times

last updated: 26 Oct '18, 23:04

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum