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Public-images-osm logo.svg usage
Osm element key.svg
Describes the the primary usage of this railway
Group: Railway
Used on these elements
use on nodes unspecified
may be used on ways
use on areas unspecified
use on relations unspecified
Status: Unspecified

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. Oftentimes branch lines are described as such in the official name.

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


Key Value Element Comment Rendering Photo
usage main Mf way.png Main line, presumably heavy traffic, often double tracked, high speed.

Example: Rail lines left and right of the Rhine river

usage branch Mf way.png Less traffic than main line, lower speed, often single tracked, may be constructed to lower specifications than the main line. May connect a place to a mainline, typically a few dozen miles in length.
usage industrial Mf way.png Tracks in private use, industrial areas, also for connection to the public network

Examples: Large surface mining areas, large industrial complex like iron or chemical industry.

usage military Mf way.png Tracks for military use, mainly on military ground
usage tourism Mf way.png Tracks for touristic use, often used on weekends and holidays, most preserved railways

Examples: Mount Washington Cog Railway, Cass Scenic Railroad, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

usage freight Mf way.png Tracks used only for freight; could probably be applied to a railway=station node/way/relation