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Hey all,

I have been tasked to find a open source map that will allow me to 'tag' sections of rail with a 'route', and Openstreetmap looks amazing for this however I have fallen at the first hurdle :(.

How I want to go about it is have the rail sections you already have with 'route codes' so for instance a route between Doncaster ~ Peterborough maybe one code for example called DD2PB but I dont want to have to do this as an 'area' section as that would take a age and a half to route as I have to be zoomed in so much to be able to edit in the first place it would take me just as long to draw the map myself lol.

Any ideas?

Thank you in advanced all.

EDIT Update:

Hey all,

I thought the saves were local so I can completely remap if needed, as some of the rail routes are 'off' to what they should be.

More info relating to what I want to do:

I want to be able to change the 'standard' rails that are already in place and change them to reflect train links between two locations, some of these will be big distances like going from "Doncaster to Peterborough" and this would be coded "DD2PB" allowing a 'train driver' or someone that wishes to know what route a train takes can just simply be told "Oh you need to look up route : DD2PB" they would then be able to look at the map and view the route.

I need to do this for around 1000 routes for my boss who works closely with train companies.

I would ideally like to change the 'colour' and add a 'text tag' to the routes I wish to change to make it easier to see when 'zoomed out'.

Or even just 'highlighting' a section with a text tag.

Also can this confirmed that any changes I make while logged into my account will be for my 'local' version of "Openstreetmap" and not the 'global' one? If not how do I do this so I can completely change my version and not affect everyone else.


asked 13 Nov '13, 10:49

Bracken's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 13 Nov '13, 13:38

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦


Could you please describe a bit more what your plans are ("find a open source map that will allow me to 'tag' sections of rail with a 'route'")? Please edit/add to your question or comment. A first tip: When you are using an OSM editor, please be aware that you change the map data for everyone - not just for you.

(13 Nov '13, 11:56) aseerel4c26 ♦

Thanks for the clarification. Another question: did you do any saves yet (of which you thought they were personal)? – they may have to be reverted.

(13 Nov '13, 13:12) aseerel4c26 ♦

Aye I did a few 'test' changes which have been reverted. Looks like I'm going to download the map locally but still will need to find a way to edit it.

(13 Nov '13, 13:36) Bracken

okay, could you please link your OSM account user name to check? Is it Bracken? That account did never save/upload any changes - which is fine if it is yours. ;-)

(13 Nov '13, 13:40) aseerel4c26 ♦

OpenStreetMap is a collaborative map of the world. It's not designed for your own private changes; all changes you make are visible to everyone using the project. They should also be verifiable, rather than codes you have invented for your own project.

If you do want to make your own changes, you will need to download rail data (from OpenStreetMap or elsewhere) and use a desktop program to save the changes onto your hard disk. You must not upload these changes to OpenStreetMap.

To download the data, you could use the Overpass API to download railway-only data for the UK from OSM. If your needs are UK-only, however, you are probably better off using the free Meridian2 product from Ordnance Survey OpenData. This is more consistently attributed than OSM and works well at medium scales.

For the editing program, you could use OSM tools such as JOSM (for editing) and Maperitive (for producing an attractive map). Again, however, if you're not uploading to OSM there is no particular reason to limit yourself to using OSM tools. Your company may have GIS software such as ArcGIS that you can use, or you could download an open-source equivalent such as QGIS.

(Finally: quick plug; I have some experience working with UK railway data and am available for consultancy work; you can find my contact details at

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answered 13 Nov '13, 13:28

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%

It sounds quite big what you want to do.

First of all, you should learn how to do some editing and contribute to OpenStreetMap so that you understand the data. The beginners guide that Hendrikklaas linked to is good. Choosing the JOSM editor will let you save changes offline. Later on the learning can pay off, as you may use it to download or edit relatively small amounts of data(e.g. for testing). You can look at how various stations, tracks, and other Railway features are mapped in OpenStreetMap. They might vary a bit and you may have to help improve them. Some places have each track mapped while others have one track and a tag(attribute) to say how many tracks there are. Some might not have all the attributes you expect on the station node.

OpenStreetMap has several data types, from simple to advanced they are: Node(point), Way(collection of nodes forming a line, Area(not a real data type but interpreted when a way has the same start and end node), and Relations which are a non-spatial collection of the other objects.

It sounds like a very specific routing engine you want to build. You'll probably need a lot of development time or to outsource this. Think, do you need to know the exact geography between points (the track curves to the East and then there is a junction take the track heading North, here is a map) or can it be simplified (from Doncaster head on a track to Arksey Loop, then to Shaftholme Junction, here is a Harry Beck schematic diagram). Think how you want to access this service, e.g. web based interface with clicking, software on your office computer/network, send it a file and you get a route file back, etc. Think about how you will refer to stations/points (perhaps the typical reference DON or the Acto code 9100DONC is better for Doncaster).

There is lots of routing software/code to give you a start and adapt it from road use to railway use.

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answered 13 Nov '13, 13:54

LivingWithDragons's gravatar image

accept rate: 4%

In addition to Richard's good answer: There are many similar questions on this help site. Please just click on the tags which I have added below your question (you may want to use the "votes" sorting function then). Also use the search.

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answered 13 Nov '13, 13:42

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦
accept rate: 18%


Start reading the beginners guide at Choose the JOSM editor which allows you to save the work or edits locally. Select the area in JOSM ad your own work and save your own map local.

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answered 13 Nov '13, 12:26

Hendrikklaas's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

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question asked: 13 Nov '13, 10:49

question was seen: 40,887 times

last updated: 13 Nov '13, 13:54

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