Proposed features/Rack railway

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Rack railway
Status: Abandoned (inactive)
Proposed by: gummibaerli
Tagging: railway=rail
Rendered as: black/white dashed line
Drafted on:
Proposed on: 2007-10-08


A cog railway, rack-and-pinion railway or rack railway is a railway with a toothed rack rail, usually between the running rails. The trains are fitted with one or more cog wheels or pinions that mesh with this rack rail. This allows the trains to operate on very steep gradients.(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). These are common in alpine regions of european countries, including austria and switzerland


  • Brienz Rothorn Bahn
  • Gornergratbahn


tag=traction value=rack|funicular

this applies to ways only

See also

A similar railway design at Proposed_features/Funicular railway

Another method at Proposed features/Incline railway


this should render in some way that is less prominent that standard-gauge railways, perhaps with a dark grey solid line


  • In Switzerland I believe these often form key parts of the railway system. Hence I don't see why they should be rendered the same as railway=rail - although I can see the benefit in having them tagged differently. --Pt 21:01, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
interesting, maybe we need a key to tag any railways if they are rack-driven, rather than them being separate. maybe 'rack=yes' if that's not too clumsyMyfanwy 21:17, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • We have some in germany as well, most often climbing a mountain and having no connection to the rest of the railway system. While I'm fine with rendering them the same as railway=rail, I'd appreciate a tag to map them seperately. SlowRider 21:13, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I think these should be tagged with railway=rail or railway=narrow_gauge with an addidtional tag like rack=yes. --Mgeiser 21:35, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I guess tagging this differently than normal railways makes sense. Having a special railway type will make problems with combinations like narrow_gauge, so having railway=rail with a special property makes sense IMHO. I'm unsure about the name, maybe cograil=yes or rackrail=yes?
  • Not all rack railways are rack railways over their full length. E.g. the MGB in Switserland [1] is a narrow gauge railway with normal traction over most of its length. It has however sections where the traction is with a third rack rail. To preserve the narrow gauge / normal gauge property of the railway and to prevent strange gaps in railway lines with render rules that would not know the railway=rack_railway, it is probably better to tag them with something like rack=yes or traction=rack in addition to railway=whatever. --Cartinus 21:55, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
ok, that's a good point. i'll modify the tag to allow it to be used as an additional tag to the railway type tag Myfanwy 19:02, 6 February 2008 (UTC)