[Tagging] Feature Proposal - RFC - More Consistency in Railway Tagging

Martin Atkins mart at degeneration.co.uk
Sun Apr 14 15:19:07 UTC 2013

On 04/14/2013 06:32 AM, Steve Bennett wrote:
> Hi,
>    My view (I'll try to be concise).
> Being able to map both abstractions (like a schematic route) and
> physical details is a real problem. We need to be able to do both. The
> problem is not unique to rail. Use cases I've thought of:
> - roads (the road network, vs the individual bits of tarmac)
> - rail (the line vs the bits of track)
> - power (the power grid vs every individual power line)
> - traffic lights ("this intersection has traffic lights" vs each
> individual physical traffic light)
> - universities, hospitals, precincts (the campus as a whole, rather
> than the individual plots of land near each other)
> - bike parking (space for 20 bikes here vs 10 individual bike hoops)
> - car parking (space for 200 cars here vs several individual parking areas)
> - bike routes (the route follows the river, vs the two individual
> tracks on each bank)
> The point is: it's hard to make beautiful maps without mapping the
> abstractions. The physical detail looks ok at high zoom levels, but
> when you're zoomed out, it's messy - and it's really not easy to
> automatically generate these kinds of abstractions.
> It would be really good to have a single, consistent approach
> (including terminology) for this "multiple levels of abstraction"
> problem.

Yes, completely agreed! I was trying to achieve this in a more limited 
sense, with just the transport network: both highways and waterways 
already have tagging schemes described that broach this:
   - highway vs. area:highway
   - waterway=river vs. waterway=riverbank

I consider my proposal as being a logical extension of this line of 
thought to railways, where "railway" represents the line, "area:railway" 
represents the area occupied by the line, and "railway:track" represents 
the individual tracks.

It is unfortunate that highways and waterways are already inconsistent 
as described above: in retrospect, area:waterway=river would've been 
more consistent (but area:highway remains just a proposal, of course.)

I was considering railways to be the "odd one out" as far as the 
transport network is concerned, but the rest of your list are all good 
examples of this problem outside of transport that I hadn't yet 
considered, though given how hard it is to even get buy-in for a revamp 
of railway tagging at this point I'm certainly not encouraged to try to 
define a universal mechanism for separating levels of abstraction across 
*all* features! :)

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