[Tagging] [OSM-talk] Should we map things that do not exist?

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Sat Jan 2 18:26:35 UTC 2021

Kevin Kenny wrote:
> disused - track still present, could be put back into service
> with minimal work (vegetation clearance, track inspection, ...)
> abandoned - track still present, deteriorated, would need
> construction work (repairing washouts//slides, realigning
> track, removing trees, ...) before being placed in service
> razed - rails lifted or buried [1], sleepers and ballast may
> remain, traces on the ground such as embankments,
> cuttings and drainage features observable OR track visible
> in obsolete imagery and way included to prevent re-
> addition of a demolished feature.

That isn't how the tags are customarily used.

In OSM to date, the majority usage is

    disused = tracks still down
    abandoned = no tracks but clear traces remain
    dismantled (or razed) = no clear traces

This has been the case since OSM year dot and was strongly influenced by the terminology traditionally used in the UK. dismantled/razed is a newer tag.

Obviously individual mappers have their own preferences, but in many years of editing features adjacent to disused railways, I'd say the "disused=tracks, abandoned=no tracks" rule is followed in 90-something% of cases.

(dismantled/razed - the tags are synonymous - is something I find useful where a railway bridge deck has been removed, typically over a river or road, but the pillars or abutments are still standing.)

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