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Public-images-osm logo.svg route = railway
08 tory railtrack ubt.jpeg
The route of a railway (e.g. the Channel Tunnel). Not to be confused with the route of a passenger train service (see route=train). Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Group: railways
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesshould not be used on waysshould not be used on areasmay be used on relations
Useful combination
See also
Status: in use

This tag is used on relations which map the route of a railway line. These relations gather rail infrastructure (track) elements (usually railway=rail), often with the same name=*, usage=* and owner=* / operator=* tags.

Passenger train services which run on the railway=rail line (and connecting lines) are tagged separately using one or more route=train relations. Other (non-railway=rail) passenger rail services are denoted with route=tram, route=light_rail, route=monorail or route=subway relations.

See Railways and Train routes.

Note: do not use a railway=rail tag on this relation as this will confuse renderers.


The ways (usually railway=rail, though less often railway=disused, railway=abandoned or railway=razed) are collected in a relation with the following tags:

Key Value Comment Example (relation 134946)
type route (mandatory) type=route
route railway (mandatory) route=railway
ref number (usually mandatory, though left empty when unknown) ref=801
name track name Name of the track (mandatory) name=KBS 801 Schlüchtern - Gemünden
operator company name Operator of the track
from station name Originating station (recommended) from=Schlüchtern
via station name Important intermediate stations
to station name Destination station (recommended) to=Gemünden

Country Specific


In Germany route=railway is used to refer to timetabled route numbers (three digit, Kursbuchstrecke referring to a route of passenger services), while route=tracks is used for VzG line numbers (four digit, unambiguous identification of a railway line).

United States

In the United States and most countries, only route=railway relations are used, there is no need for route=tracks relations. A convention with US route=railway relations is a strong intention to harmonize them by gathering elements with identical name=*, usage=*, railway=*, owner=* and operator=* tags. In the US, a route=railway could have any sort of traffic upon it and has nothing to do with specifically passenger rail service or passenger rail routes (that's all denoted in route=train relations). Contrast this with Germany, where all route=railways "already mean" a particular passenger service, denoted by three digits in the ref=* tag.

Possible tagging mistakes =

See also

  • route=tracks - Railroad track as rail infrastructure, used primarily in Germany. Not to be confused with route=train.