[Talk-us] railway=abandoned and mapping things that are not there any more?

Peter Dobratz peter at dobratz.us
Thu Jul 12 17:37:44 BST 2012

I'm trying to get a better understanding of the railway=abandoned tag
and see what the community thinks about it.

It seems that there are a handful of railroad enthusiast users that
are systematically adding current and former railways into OSM, and in
some cases re-adding railways that I have removed.  I have been
operating under the assumption that if a physical feature is not
currently there, then it should be deleted.

Consider the following example area (Manchester airport MHT):


A few years ago the runway was shorter and New Hampshire Route 28 was
more straight.  Sometime before that there was a railroad running
right through where the airport is now.  For the case of the road and
any buildings that were removed due to runway expansion, these are not
in OSM, and even if we could find some record of them, I wouldn't
think that anyone would add them.  However, for the case of the
railroad, there is a Way in OSM tagged railway=abandoned where the
railroad used to be.

What makes railroads a special case?

Do we really want a bunch of railway=abandoned Ways running directly
through newly constructed runways, buildings, roads, parking lots,

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