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Public-images-osm logo.svg network
Used to describe networks of various kinds. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: Network

  • node way area <empty>
  • relation connection
  • way line
  • area substation
Useful combination
Status: in usePage for proposal

The tag type=network is used in some places to tag relations which represent a "network". Most commonly this has been used to map cycling and walking "node networks" in the Low Countries of Europe, and public transport systems in some cities.

The more common tag for public transport routes is a route relation with a network=* tag.

How to Map

A network relation contains the elements that together form the network. These could be route relations, route_master relations, network nodes of a node network, etc.

The network relation has the following tags:

The members of a network relation are different for each type of network:

Controversy over this tag

Use of this relation sometimes violates the principle that relations are not meant to model categories like "all tram stops in Frankfurt".


  • Network relations group their member regardless of a certain key or feature, as OpenStreetMap does not feature static IDs, the creation of network relations creates a "real" group.
  • Each member can be described with a certain role, which is especially useful for network relations.
  • Relations are ordered lists. So when the order of members is important, this can be captured in a network relation.


  • Some network relations may become huge as they represent huge network, this may become an issue.
  • Especially new mappers repeatedly do not understand that/how they have to add parts of the network to the relation. Therefore, this is not always done properly and requires additional maintenance.


The use of the tag network=<xyz> for all members of a network is the most common alternative. The drawback is that the value of the network is often not unique and the network=* tag is used differently for bicycle and hiking routes.

Usage and examples

Electricity networks

According to Taginfo, one of the most common roles in network-relations is Role substation. United Kingdom renewable energy describes the usage of this role, but does not mention type=network.

Cycling, walking and outdoor sports networks

Main article: Cycle Node Network Tagging
Main article: Walking_Routes#Tags_of_the_relation

The concept of network-relations is used for node networks in particular. This enables grouping of both routes and nodes. Sometimes network relations are also used for normal networks, containing only routes.


  • relation 12876306 - Fietsnetwerk Houten, containing all routes of a cycle network
  • relation 7491418 - Wandelnetwerk Land van Streuvels, containing all routes and network nodes of a walking node network
  • relation 5537385 - Skateroute-netwerk Midden-Delfland , containing all routes and network nodes of an inline skating node network

Public transportation networks

Network relations are sometimes used in the context of a common fare system, a certain type of transportation and the (subsidized) concessions to operate a number of lines. However, controversy exists whether this usage violates the principle that "relations are not categories".

The Public transport proposal (PTv2) did not make use of network-relations and that route master relations were not network relations.

Dutch approach

Network relations are used to mark the membership of a route to a public transport concession. This is motivated by the ease of maintenance in the light of constant changes in concession ownership.


  • relation 5265213 - Hoofdrailnet Nederland concession, containing the route master relations of all train routes belonging to this concession
  • relation 364180 - Stadsvervoer Amsterdam concession, containing the route master relations of all tram, bus and subway routes belonging to this concession
  • relation 420214 - Noord- en Zuidwest-Fryslân en Schiermonnikoog concession, containing the route master relations of all bus routes belonging to this concession

German approach

The idea of network relations for concessions or fare systems (German: Verkehrsverbunde) was doomed on the mailing list as they change regularly and have no relevance for users. The current situation seems to be that everything is mapped in the route=* or route_master=* relations and network relations are abandoned and ignored (examples: relation 66263 missing underground line 4, relation 2664636 with note=teilen, teilen, teilen, German for divide, divide, divide).

Road networks

Some network relations are used to group route=road relations. This is done in addition to a network=* tag on the route relations itself and could therefore be seen as redundant information. However it could be useful when multiple networks exist parallel to each other.


  • relation 7884303 - International European route network, containing the route and superroute relations making up the E-road network.
  • relation 13290323 - Rijkswegennet, containing the route relations making up the national road network of the Netherlands. The route relations themselves use network=NL:A and network=NL:N, the A-road and N-road networks, which exist parallel to the Rijkswegennet.

See also