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Available languages — Key:usage
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Public-images-osm logo.svg usage
Osm element key.svg
Describes the primary usage of railways, pipeline or waterways Edit or translate this description.
Group: Railways
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Useful combination
Status: in use

With railways

The key usage=* is used to identify the primary usage of a railway track. This is in principle independent of the kind of railway. It is often used with railway=rail and railway=narrow_gauge.

The distinction between main and branch line in general should be straightforward, but may be vague in certain circumstances; for example, if the branch line is very long. Some generic criteria are described in the table, below, but one should consider each case individually. Often, branch lines are described as such in the official name, however, sometimes rail is named "XYZ Main Line" even though it is more appropriately tagged usage=branch.

The distinction between the other types of usage should be more obvious.

Inside a railway station area, use usage=* only for the main tracks (not for siding, yard tracks etc.). That also applies for crossover or overtaking tracks outside of the railway stations. Always use usage=* only on the main tracks (apart from the exception mentioned above).



Key Value Element Comment Rendering Photo
usage main Mf way.png Main line, presumably heavy traffic, often double tracked and/or electrified, may be high speed.

Example: Rail lines left and right of the Rhine river

usage branch Mf way.png Branch line, less traffic and lower speed than main lines, often single tracked and/or not electrified, may be constructed to lower specifications than main line. May connect a place to a mainline or serve to connect mainlines, typically a few dozen miles in length.
usage industrial Mf way.png Tracks in private use that serve only freight transport inside larger ports, industrial complexes/zones or mining areas, also for connection to the public network. In the USA, may serve factories or clusters of industrial activity along a rail spur in (often urban) industrial-zoned areas.

Examples: Large surface mining areas (coal, minerals, ore), chemical industry, large harbours, high-density industrial oil refinery areas.

usage military Mf way.png Tracks for military use, mainly on military areas, munitions storage areas or connections to the public railroad network.
usage test Mf way.png Tracks used for testing of new vehicles or new rail transport technologies.
usage tourism Mf way.png Tracks for tourists, around museums, historic or "heritage" trains, often only on weekends and holidays and/or seasonally, most preserved railways.

Examples: Mount Washington Cog Railway, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Roaring Camp Steam Train

With waterways

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With pipelines