[Tagging] What exactly is a preserved railway?

Steve Bennett stevagewp at gmail.com
Wed Feb 16 23:47:45 GMT 2011

On Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 6:42 AM, Nathan Edgars II <neroute2 at gmail.com> wrote:
> According to the wiki, railway=preserved means "A railway running historic
> trains, usually a tourist attraction". The concept is simple enough. But
> there are some edge cases. Which of these is a preserved railway?
> 1. A railway running replicas of historic trains
> 2. A tourist railway running modern trains on a preserved line (example: the
> White Pass and Yukon Route has new diesels from the 1980s, newer than some
> older diesels still used on major freight railroads)
> 3. A streetcar line running historic streetcars in regular commuter service
> (example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattapan_High_Speed_Line)
> 4. A tourist railway using neither preserved trackage nor preserved trains
> 5. An amusement park railway, using either historic or recent trains
> 4 and sometimes 5 seem to not fit the definition or its intent, yet are not
> standard rail lines (thus railway=rail seems incomplete). Perhaps something
> like railway=tourist would better capture the intent.

These are very good questions. I guess we need to look at why we're
making the distinction in the first place. I imagine it would be so
people using the map can readily distinguish between a practical train
line running regular services at normal speeds, and a line that might
only run one service a week, at slow speeds, etc.

I'm sure there will be other edge cases too: what of a line that runs
both normal and historic services? A track following a historic route,
but re-laid with a standard gauge? A scenic route which is used both
by tourists and locals?

IMHO the "rail=preserved" is good for capturing a stage in the rail
lifecycle: proposed, construction, (normal), disused, preserved,
abandoned. For other distinctions like tourism/normal use or theme
parks, other tags would be better, perhaps in addition.

I guess we should bear in mind though that the map is really talking
about the physical infrastructure, and shouldn't be swayed too much by
what services run on that infrastructure. So your five questions above
could be simplified greatly by simply disregarding the trains, and
focussing solely on the track.


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