[Tagging] railway=rail vs. railway=subway

jc86035 jc86035 at openmailbox.org
Wed Nov 23 12:20:00 UTC 2016

Assuming that the currently under-construction extensions to the lines
(the Sha Tin to Central Link) also have a similar loading gauge, should
they (East and West Rail Lines, Ma On Shan Line and Sha Tin to Central
Link) then all be tagged railway=rail?

For what it's worth, Centamap (non-free map with government source)
displays most of the three open lines as a black line with white
stripes, but interestingly with the Kowloon Southern Link (a 2009
extension) in a light blue with white stripes like the other MTR lines.
Maybe it's just because it was opened by the MTR after the merger of the
two systems.


Michael Reichert:
> Hi,
> railway=* should depend on the infrastructure only. The services which
> use the track, don't matter.
> Am 22.11.2016 um 15:41 schrieb Michael Tsang:
>> On Tuesday 22 November 2016 11:28:00 jc86035 wrote:
>>> Should a commuter rail system with rapid transit frequency but main
>>> line-standard tracks be tagged as railway=subway or railway=rail?
>>> In Hong Kong, the MTR metro system has an "urban" set of DC 1432mm-gauge
>>> lines, and another set of AC standard gauge lines (East Rail Line, West
>>> Rail Line and Ma On Shan Line) connected to the Guangzhou–Shenzhen railway.
>> "Use railway=rail for full sized passenger or freight trains in the standard 
>> gauge for the country or state.
>> railway=rail is the largest railway classification, for full-blown full-sized 
>> railways."
>> My interpretation of the above rule is that, if the section of the railway is 
>> capable for running long distance trains, it should be tagged as railway=rail. 
>> Therefore, East Rail Line in Hong Kong is definitely railway=rail because long 
>> distance and freight trains also run on it.
> I agree up to here.
>> In my opinion, even the metro-only 
>> sections of East Rail Line where long distance trains do not run should be 
>> tagged as railway=rail because they belongs to the same railway with the same 
>> standard.
> If the metro-only sections have a wide structure gauge which would
> permit long distance and freight trains to use it (tunnels wide instead
> of narrow), they should be tagged railway=rail. But if the tracks can
> only be used by metro trains, they should be tagged railway=subway.
> Metro tunnels are usually more narrow than tunnels for full sized
> passenger trains because building wide tunnels is more expensive.
>> Normally I consider the nature of the train running on the railway to get the 
>> appropriate railway=* value.
>> - Railway with long distance and commuter trains: railway=rail
>> - Railway with metro services only: railway=subway
> railway=subway are usually encapsulated systems which may have a
> connecting track if new vehicles are delivered and both systems have the
> same gauge. railway=subway systems don't have level crossings.
> Finally, you cannot write a fix rules which is suitable for every
> country and every city. In some cases you have to make exceptions from
> the fixed rules. I think that metro-only tracks in Hong Kong should be
> tagged as railway=subway even if they are connected to full-sized
> railway tracks.
> You can use route=subway for the route relations to indicate that it is
> a metro-like service with metro-like vehicles.
>> - Railway with street intersection: railway=light_rail
>> - Railway mainly with tracks embedded on the street: railway=tram
> +1
>>> One of the standard gauge lines (Ma On Shan Line: short distance between
>>> stations and low speed) was always tagged with railway=subway, but some
>>> time ago I retagged the West Rail Line (commuter rail with long distance
>>> between stations) with railway=subway, as well as the sections of the
>>> East Rail Line without intercity train service (without asking anyone).
>>> Should the lines be retagged as railway=rail, since they're not really
>>> subway/metro lines?
>> For Ma On Shan Line and West Rail Line, there is a bit ambiguity. The trains 
>> running on them are full sized passenger trains in the standard gauge, but 
>> they are metro trains in all aspects, even all the technical standards are 
>> comparable to main line standards. In fact, West Rail Line was planned to have 
>> long-distance trains and freight trains at the beginning, if this were to 
>> become true, it would be re-tagged as railway=rail. However, the plan was 
>> dropped and in the forseeable future only metro services would be run on West 
>> Rail Line so I prefer railway=subway in this case. Ma On Shan Line is designed 
>> to have only metro service so it is definitely railway=subway, but because it 
>> will be connected with West Rail Line so it was built to same full size 
>> technical standard.
> If the infrastructure can be used by full sized passenger trains, it's
> always railway=rail. It's not that strange that light rail services use
> railway=rail tracks. Have a look at the light rail line from Karlsruhe
> to Hochstetten. It uses railway tracks which are also used by freight
> trains between Welschneureuter Straße and Leopoldshafen Frankfurter
> Straße (freight trains go to KIT Campus Nord, formerly Karlsruhe
> Research Centre).
> http://www.openrailwaymap.org/?lang=&lat=49.076789590142965&lon=8.403253555297852&zoom=13&style=standard
>> Even the situation of East Rail Line is not completely clear. In 1983, East 
>> Rail Line was a relatively infrequent (20-minute headway in outer suburbs) 
>> commuter rail service using British national railway standard, comparable to 
>> S-Bahns in Germany.
> S-Bahns in Germany (those operated by DB) are tagged as railway=rail [1]
> because most of them share the tracks with all other types of trains
> (freight, regional, high-speed). S-Bahns are normal trains and therefore
> their route relations are tagged with route=train. (Normal train tickets
> are valid in S-Bahns but not on metros (U-Bahn), trams and light rails
> (Stadtbahn))
> In Germany, the law helps you to distinguish the different types of
> railways. A law called EBO rules the operation on full-sized railway
> lines with standard gauge, another law called BOStrab rules everything
> else (trams, light rails not running on EBO tracks, subways). Locations
> where a vehicle enters a section ruled by the other law are signed.
> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Systemwechsel_Stadtbahn_Karlsruhe.jpg
> I don't know if there are different laws in Hong Kong for full-sized
> trains and subways.
>> If OpenStreetMap existed at that time, the train service 
>> itself would be tagged as route=train. However, the frequency became metro 
>> standard in early 1990s, the trains renewed to metro standard between 1996 to 
>> 2000, and joined the metro network in 2007, so it is tagged as route=subway 
>> now.
> That's right.
>> In fact, the boundary between railway=rail, subway, and light_rail is not 
>> always clear. There exist some trains in elsewhere in the world which can run 
>> on mail line railways (railway=rail), inside metro network (railway=subway), 
>> and even on the road waiting red lights with motor vehicles 
>> (railway=light_rail).
> You are speaking of Germany? Cologne and Bonn share some light rail
> lines which use railway tracks (used by freight trains, too) outside the
> cities and light rail tracks (sometimes underground but still a light
> rail, often called "subway"/"U-Bahn") inside the cities.
> Best regards
> Michael
> (one of the guys behind OpenRailwayMap)
> PS Public Transport is difficult. If you think you know everything, you
> have not seen all of the world.
> [1] except in Berlin and Hamburg where the mappers need to be convinced :-)
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