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I read the question this week about the abandoned railway track and I did some research. I do use the same expression for a situation that’s been abandoned or left as it is. The menu gives these options for transport, disused tracks, old trackbed and the tag railway - abandoned. That’s makes three questions. Is a railway (disused tracks) not just an abandoned railway line, out of use ? Still complete but not used for decades, fi in Detroit and Liverpool (P2) places with a lot of old tracks filled with growth. Is the old trackbed just the remaining of a old dismantled line with rails nor sleepers ? And whats the condition of a railway - abandoned. No trains on the track or without points to connect it and waiting to be recycled or just left and buried in asphalt and concrete ? And whats the code or tag for a new usage of the track like they make bicycletracks on old railway tracks (called RAVEl). Does nt the track (dike or cutting) needs a tag for its excistance ? Greetz Hendrik

asked 07 Sep '12, 13:51

Hendrikklaas's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

The wiki defines the difference rather clearly:

  • Disused - the feature is still in working order, or could be brought back to working order easily. Use railway=disused.
  • Abandoned - The track has been removed and the line may have been reused or left to decay but is still clearly visible, either from the replacement infrastructure, or purely from a line of trees around an original cutting or embankment. Use railway=abandoned.

And if there is nothing left from the original railway then don't tag it as a railway.

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answered 07 Sep '12, 14:24

scai's gravatar image

scai ♦
accept rate: 23%


Absolutely. Though I would note that there's a convention of using railway=dismantled for places where the railway trackbed is no longer even present, but its absence is noticeable: for example, a bridge over a river where the 'deck' has been removed, but the abutments are still in evidence.

(07 Sep '12, 17:00) Richard ♦

"disused" are railways that still have rails, even if they're not connected to the national rail network. "abandoned" are railways that are still visible. "dismantled" are railways that have been destroyed. The only reason to put this data into OSM is because one person's "destroyed" is not another person's "destroyed". For example, to address scai's answer, "nothing left" may mean that there are no ties, no rails, no embankment, but there may still be property lines, or houses aligned to the railway and nothing else, or houses with angled walls specifically to avoid the railway. I can point you to many examples of all of these.

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answered 29 Dec '14, 18:25

RussNelson's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


A dismantled railway, hence, is not a railway of any kind. When snow melts it becomes water but nobody would tag a lake with "snow=molten".

(29 Dec '14, 19:01) Frederik Ramm ♦

Please only tag features that are still visible. railway=dismantled is a rather controversial tag in my opinion.

(29 Dec '14, 19:17) scai ♦

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question asked: 07 Sep '12, 13:51

question was seen: 9,507 times

last updated: 29 Dec '14, 19:17

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