[OSM-talk] stop deleting abandoned railroads

moltonel 3x Combo moltonel at gmail.com
Mon Aug 17 00:39:10 UTC 2015

On 16/08/2015, Richard Fairhurst <richard at systemed.net> wrote:
> Frederik Ramm wrote:
>> What everybody can see is a clearing or change in the surface
>> of something. That's fine to map.
>> Inferring from that that there must have been a railway there is a
>> step too far. We are mappers, not trappers.
> Ok, let's try an experiment.
> Go to http://cycle.travel/map/journey/15120, click the route highlight (in
> purple), and click 'Find photos'.
> I spot a bridge in the characteristic Victorian railway style, a viaduct,
> the remains of a signal box, a large embankment of the type used to build
> railways and nothing else from that period, and A SODDING RAILWAY PLATFORM
> Tell me again you can't infer there must have been a railway there. I dare
> you. I double dare you.

Sure, no need to be an expert to spot the former railway in this case.
I'm pretty sure Frederik had some less obvious examples in mind. But
that's IMHO not the point : the discussion is more about what's
mapworthy than what's inferable.

The "problem" with railroads is that because they are so long and
straight, it's easy to spot the missing sections wich wouldn't stand
out on their own. That's surely an important reason why we have more
arguments about dismantled railways than dismantled anything else.

IMHO being able to assert "there was a FOO here" does not imply that
we should map that FOO. At most, we should map the signs, such as
leftover embankments, sections of the railway that are now highway=*,
tree rows, etc. Some signs that help spot former railways but are IMHO
not reason enough to map a railway=abandoned include
differently-colored crop in a field, and neat long aligments of
various features.

Here are some railway sections that I have deleted, always aiming to
be conservative and giving a heads-up to the other mapper :
* Going through buidlings, a pond, and uneven slopes
* Running alongside (even reusing some nodes of) a perfectly modern highway=*
* Buried under the 15m high embankment of a trunk road
* A broken bridge with just a few meters left on both riverbanks
* Going across a field with just the faintest crop color difference
* Going between fields with just a 1m hedge separating them

I do empathise with Russ being angered at his work being deleted
without discussion. I'm sure most of his railway=abandoned are of the
mapworthy kind (yes, I know we don't have an objective definition for
this) and if those got deleted by an overzealous or badly-advised
contributor, it sucks.

But it's equally annoying and tiring to repeatedly encounter the
ludicrous kind of railway=abandoned, just because the mapper could
infer the location of the former railway using nearby visible sections
or old maps, or because he feels that former railways *must* be mapped
as an unbronken string of osm ways.

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