[Talk-transit] Railway route relations

Frankie Roberto frankie at frankieroberto.com
Tue Aug 11 09:23:59 BST 2009

On Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 8:21 AM, Jochen Topf <jochen at remote.org> wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 01:31:10AM +0200, Cartinus wrote:
> > On Monday 10 August 2009 09:10:15 Jochen Topf wrote:
> > > The "infrastructure route" is something different from the "moving
> vehicles
> > > forming a route". They are two different concepts, so they deserve
> their
> > > own keys. A bicycle route or walking route is more like an
> "infrastructure
> > > route", there are signs on the way. Its a physically existing thing.
> The
> > > "moving vehicle route" (which we called a line) is more "ephemeral".
> >
> > To me signs have nothing to do with infrastructure. For me the
> infrastructure
> > are the roads themselves. So to me a cycleroute is a moving vehicle
> route.
> >
> > From this follows that introducing "line" relations is not consistent at
> all,
> > because then we have a different type of relation for public transport
> moving
> > vehicle routes and private transport moving vehicle routes.
> Of course its not about the signs themselves, they just help identify the
> infrastructure.
> I'll try to explain my point differently: There is infrastructure in the
> form
> of roads and paths. Some of them have names or numbers, often overlapping,
> such
> as the "School Rd" or "M5" or "B 57" or "Thames Cylce Path". People
> (optionally
> in their vehicles) use this infrastructure to move about. Sometimes they
> use
> one part of the infrastructure, sometimes another part. For most journeys
> they will use several of those named/numbered routes. So I might take my
> bike
> out for a spin first along some local roads (Foo Rd, Bar Rd, ...), a larger
> Road (B 567) and then along smaller roads again which happen to be part of
> the Baz Cycle Route etc.
> Public transport lines are different. They are not part of this
> infrastructure,
> they us it just like I use this infrastructure when out cycling. But there
> is a
> difference to my cycling: They always use the same parts of the
> infrastructure
> on each journey.
> Unlike my way to work (which is the same each day, too), these public
> transport
> journeys are important to many people. Thats why we want to put them into
> OSM.
> I totally agree that this is only one way of thinking about these
> difference
> and as always the world is much more complicated. But I happen to think
> this
> to be a very obvious and logical classification. Others might see it
> differently.

This is very interesting - there are clearly two very different
interpretations as to what "infrastructure" means.

I have to say, my interpretation was the same as Cartinus's - ie that
railway services (eg London-Paris) and bus routes fall into the same
category as cycle routes and walking routes.

Take cycle routes, for instance. In the UK at least, well-known cycle routes
(such as the national or regional ones) often don't use much in the way of
dedicated infrastructure - instead, they are simply a publicised path along
existing roadways, paths, and so on. They may not even be signposted at all
- they may simply be published in a guidebook (eg I'm not sure whether the
"Sea to Sea" route is signposted as such at all -
http://www.c2c-guide.co.uk/). So these to me seem the same as train service
routes, which use infrastructure (railway tracks) in the same way the
bicycles do.

To take another perspective, your "way to work" may not be of enough
relevance to map in OSM, but popular, non-official walking or cycling paths
may be. Indeed the Routes page (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Routes)
seems to suggest that pilgrimage routes and protest marches can also be

I think we can agree, though, that these distinctions are subtle and subject
to interpretation. The Routes page also includes route=road for long
distance road routes, which are clearly a bit more infrastructure-like, but
also fairly conceptual (as they're not always one long physical road, but
rather a collection of roads grouped together and given a name or

This ambiguity, I think, makes using one key (route=) for both railway
tracks (route=railway) and railway services (route=train) the simplest and
most understandable solution.

If there isn't yet a consensus on this, however, I think we should continue
to document and describe the various different proposals (making an effort
to make them as easy to read and understand as possible), and then invite a
wider debate - or simply see which tagging scheme seems to end up being used
the most by mappers...


Frankie Roberto
Experience Designer, Rattle
0114 2706977
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