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Public-images-osm logo.svg embedded_rails
Ruusulankatu tram rails (at lat 60.18206, lon 24.92450) heading NW.jpg
A highway (on which non-railway traffic is also allowed) has railway tracks embedded in it, but the rails are mapped as separate ways. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: highways
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasuse on relations unspecified
See also
Status: approvedPage for proposal

Specifies that a highway (on which non-railway traffic is also allowed) has railway tracks embedded in it, but the rails are mapped as separate ways.


The key embedded_rails=* is added to features tagged with highway=* to notify other traffic that a highway (or a section of it) actually has some type of railway tracks embedded in it, although these rails are mapped as separate ways.

Three conditions on the use of the tag follow:

  1. That the railway=* track actually runs embedded in the highway=*.
    • For this reason you should not use this tag e.g. with a separately mapped railway=monorail, since the monorails always run above the highways.
  2. That the highway is available and generally legally accessible also for other traffic aside from the (possible) railway-specific traffic.
    • If the tracks run on a separate, generally non-accessible, lane between highways or next to a highway, the adjacent highways should not be tagged.
  3. That there is a railway=* track already separately mapped that this tag shadows (possibly, though not necessarily, sharing nodes with the highway).

So, for example:

Tagged Not tagged
Example of tram track embedded on a highway. The highway is accessible to other traffic and furthermore flanked by sidewalks, forcing also bicycles to use the highway with the embedded tram tracks. Example of tram tracks that run on a separate, generally not legally accessible lane between highways. Do not apply the tag to the highway(s) next to the tracks.
Tram tracks embedded in highway
Separate lane for trams.

How to Map

Add the tag embedded_rails=* to a feature mapped as a way and tagged as a highway=* feature. The value embedded_rails=yes may be used if the type of railway is unknown, otherwise the value should match the value of the railway=* that is separately mapped:


Key Value Comment Photo
embedded_rails abandoned Abandoned railway on highway.
embedded_rails construction Railway tracks being constructed on highway.
embedded_rails disused Disused railway tracks on highway.
embedded_rails funicular Funicular tracks on highway.
embedded_rails light_rail Light rail tracks on highway
embedded_rails miniature Miniature railway on highway
embedded_rails narrow_gauge Narrow-gauge railway on highway
embedded_rails rail Railway tracks on highway
embedded_rails tram Tram tracks on highway
embedded_rails yes Unspecified rails on highway

You should tag also railways that may not be in use, since the physical tracks nevertheless are permanent feature of the highway and pose a permanent threat to some vehicles.


If only a subset of lanes on a multi-lane highway have embedded tracks, this can be handled as usual with the lanes-tagging scheme and embedded_rails:lanes=*. So, for example, if only the second lane in a two lane highway has an embedded tram track, this would be tagged (as far as the embedded_rails=* tag goes) with:


The railway itself

In the United States, per OpenRailwayMap/Tagging in North America, the railway=* itself should be tagged embedded=yes to reciprocate embedded_rails=yes on the roadway.

Motivation and Rationale

The railway=tram wiki page suggests mapping tramway tracks always alongside highways as a separate way (though possibly using the same nodes as the highway) even if they in fact run on the highway. There are also cases where subway rails (railway=subway) or a railway railway=rail run embedded on a highway and are similarly tagged as separate ways.

There are many good reasons for this convention. Nevertheless other traffic should be notified that there is a track, physically, running on the highway. The need for such notification is particularly acute for bicycles, mopeds and other vehicles that have narrow tyres. Railway tracks have deep indentations that narrow wheels can easily and dangerously slip into. This danger alone warrants a note to routing programs so that they can avoid routing e.g. bicycles through such streets.

Also especially the existence of railway=rail tracks on a highway may imply that the highway can occasionally and sporadically be inaccessible for other legal traffic when there are trains using the tracks.

Because the tracks are mapped as separate ways, this tag is needed for the highway.

See also