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"sidings" as an alternative

Would sidings be a better term? Bruce89 17:43, 11 June 2007 (BST)

Existing tagging of yard/spur

It has been discussed that "railway=yard" and "railway=spur" should be used, based on recent discussion related to TIGER import --Hawke 23:35, 11 June 2007 (BST)

That makes sense. Has there been a resolution? -- Relet 09:35, 13 June 2007 (BST)
Not really. It turns out that the tiger data for railway is pretty inaccurate anyway (in terms of classifying railways) -- they have many railways tagged as spur when they're not really (or maybe are in a much larger scheme of things than OSM considers spur), for example.

Description of terms

I would suggest that all three designations be used for the respective features; spur, yard and siding. They are all very different animals with different purposes and different features.
A siding is often used like a passing area on a narrow road or for short term storage of cars. A siding is normally not distinguishable from an adjacent track to the main route.
A yard can be used for several purposes, but is nearly always much larger with multiple, parallel tracks and is often in an enclosed area with limited access. This will often look like an industrial facility.
A spur is like a siding, but is there to s erve a particular company or industrial park and often runs well off of the main track. To someone driving on the roads, this would look like any other section of the railway. -- Gnuarm 9:18, Oct 18 2007 (EDT)
  • i've split this into three sub-proposals, but as they're similar, i see no reason why we can't discuss/vote on them all at once.Myfanwy 09:28, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Use ref=* instead of index

  • Is the new tag "index=" really necessary? I would think those track numbers could be stored in a "ref=" tag? --Cartinus 12:04, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
    • sounds good, i like consistency. Myfanwy 18:15, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Does it apply to all rail types?

  • Does it apply only to railway=rail or also to railway=narrow_gauge ? I would prefer service=yes, because the distinction between spur and yard is not very clear --Gummibaerli 18:38, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Can you be more specific as to what is not clear to you about the difference between yard and spur? --Cartinus 13:48, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
it was a bit unclear, i've added some clarification. we should really include narrow-gauge railways, any ideas? maybe railway=rail|narrow_gauge|..., service=spur|yard|siding? Myfanwy 20:24, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm all for it, people are already doing that.
ps. I don't know at what point and who should change corresponding section on the page. Should I change it, or is there some voting needed? Myfanwy suggested this almost a year ago, but the page hasn't changed. --Skratz 16:50, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

Diagramatic or reflecting reality?

  • In the case of railway=yard is it that the mapping is supposed to be diagrammatical and only show a general view of the tracks in a yard rather than a detailed map of every single track? This seems to be the way that railway=rail is currently used. --Pt 19:28, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
That is probably because with the current tags and rendering it would result in a mess to map every track. But with the tags in this proposal you can if you want, you don't have to. --Cartinus 13:48, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
I'd say they should be a detailed map of every single track if possible. If you can't or don't want to map every track, a diagramatic view is a good start.


  • As a none native speaker, I find it hard to read the proposal without a dictionary, maybe adding a few photos would be really helpful - Ulfl 02:38, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Those are not photos, but do the simple pictures above help enough? --Cartinus 03:42, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
thanks cartinus, big help Myfanwy 01:36, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Related: landuse=railway

The railway land tagging already had some discussion how to represent these areas, and suggested landuse=railway would be easier than tagging every single piece of metal in the area -- can we somehow incorporate the discussion from that page into this proposal? Ojw 22:42, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

The linked tag page only discusses tagging the areas, not the rails within them. The former does not preclude the latter. --Hawke 21:43, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Service key too vague?

I don't like the key "service" for this, as it is very vague. I suggest "railway:service" instead. --Hawke 21:46, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

i have a feeling we've been here before. i also have a feeling this has never been explained properly. if something is accepted as common/established process on OSM, then it is enough to refer to it without an explanation. there will also generally be a page on the wiki that can be pointed to. however, what you are suggesting is not/has never been established practice. therefore, it needs an explanation, debate, etc. what you are suggesting may well have value, but until it's explained to the rest of us, we're not going to do something that requires extra work for no perceivable benefit. until someone does this, the argument carries no weight whatsoever, and is reduced to the level of irrelevancy. unfortunately, because of the voting process, anyone can disrupt the proposals process for any reason they choose, sane or not, agreed upon or not. i'll say again, please explain elsewhere, why this is a good idea/should be accepted by OSM. we will join in the debate, we will discuss any points that arise. Myfanwy 22:44, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
I'm not attached to "railway:service", just some method to indicate that that the key "service" has something to do with rail (and not e.g. highway=service). As Fröstel brought up, the potential for confusion with shop=* exists. --Hawke 01:46, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
railway=service doesn't work because (unlike highway=service) it doesn't say anything about what type of railway it is, subway, monorail, ... --Skratz 17:09, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

I wound up on this page just now, and found it odd the way the description of 'Key:service' immediatly launches into details of different bits of railway tracks. I guess that's essentially the same problem Hawke is raising, but i'm not so sure it's a problem with the tag itself. Maybe this description page could describe it better. Lead into the topic a little more clearly.

service=spur and service=siding ...are they supposed to be used in conjunction with railway=rail? If so, the page must make that clear, because that colours the debate somewhat. Is this key just an additional "attribute", to give the renderers some more information to go on? Or is it what you might call a "core" defining key? Would a way have nothing but service=siding?

--~ Harry Wood 11:24, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Yard: main route?

Should one route through the yard be considered the "main route"? It seems to me that it would be weird to have a renderer hiding an entire yard, such that the rail appears to stop where it enters the yard and begin again at the other end. --Hawke 21:08, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

i'm not 100% this happens in all cases, but most of the ones i've seen the yard is off to one side of the 'mainline'. the routes connecting the mainline to the yard would generally be tagged as service as well. do you have any examples we can look at? Myfanwy 23:35, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
Here: [1] --Hawke 01:45, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
wow, that's crazy. kudos to whoever mapped that though, i'd go nuts trying to distinguish between the tracks. in answer to your question: i see your point, but i don't know the answer. maybe as you say, the ones which are nearest to following the route of the 'main' line should render when zoomed out? and all the others should be service, or whatever? Myfanwy 04:56, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Hehe, the data's all from the TIGER import. I did have a good start from the Yahoo! aerial photos though, but then TIGER came it's better than anything I'd be able to do without manual surveying, I deleted what work I had done on it. I've thought of contacting the railroad to see if I could do a manual survey of it sometime, but I expect legal liability concerns would prevent it, and I've not had time to look into it at all. I'll add something to the main page about (not) tagging the main route through a yard. --Hawke 17:14, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
The surroundings through which a railway goes don't matter. Each way should be tagged according to it's function and not the general function of the area it passes through. --Skratz 17:21, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

Yards sometimes have "bypass tracks" for unit trains. Or if there is passenger service, it may always use the same tracks. But many yards are used by all trains, due to the nature of train operations, and there are no designated through tracks. In this case, there does seem to be one track that goes straight at all switches, so that may be the main track. --NE2 20:11, 20 March 2010 (UTC)


is open, until 2008-02-18
voting has been extended until 2008-05-21
please state if you disagree with one or more of the tagging proposals, rather than just voting yes or no. we may keep some if they are popular and others voted down

  • i approve this proposal and all it's tags Myfanwy 20:09, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • i approve this proposal. I need it for tagging. SlowRider 20:19, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • i approve this proposal. (spur needs to be visible before yard and siding when zooming.) --Mikemenk 20:52, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • i approve this proposal --Pt 20:58, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal and all it's tags --Cartinus 21:10, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal. Franc 22:37, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. I think that the "service" tag is too vague though. --Hawke 21:48, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal. I need such a tag, but i'm not sure about the naming. --Nils 14:06, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal. Also agree with Mikemenk's comment. --Vrabcak 15:19, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal. My previous concerns have been satisfactorily addressed in the Talk mailing list. --alastairj 20:50, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • i approve this proposal and all of its tags --Bilbo 01:51, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve ShakespeareFan00 21:16, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I disapprove this usage of service. This should be an amendment to shop= to describe the tertiary sector. -- Fröstel 16:42, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
i think you're on the wrong proposal - this is about railway tracks. this vote will be ignored
Ignore whatever you like, I'm on the right proposal. I dislike tags that rely on other tags to make sense. When there's for exaple like service=lawyer or service=shoe_cleaning, which would be the natural amendment to all the shop-tags, your service=spur will look odd. There's also the problem of redundency: what is meant when there's railway=service, service=spur in contrast to railway=rail, service=spur? Why not just use railway=service/spur/siding/etc. ? -- Fröstel 13:46, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
well, i don't think it was a huge leap to suggest this was on the wrong page, you started talking about shops and mentioned nothing of railway lines... Anyway, service=lawyer doesn't exist at the moment, and we can't create tags now based on what may or may not happen in the future, we'd never get anything done. Besides, it's amenity=lawyer , amenity being used for things more important than shop. if your proposed change does occur, it's very simple to process these tags to something new (if there's a clash, as ojw explains below there woudn't be, as they would be applied to different items). What is a railway=service? I haven't seen that anywhere in osm, so there's no redundancy. We're not using railway=service|spur|siding, for the reasons outlined above, i.e. narrow-gauge railways have these things too, but we want to tag them differently to main line sidings/spurs/etc. the system we have allows for:

railway=narrow_gauge service=spur

Orthogonal properties - if service (meaning "a small connecting way") applies to anything (roads, railways, canals, power lines) then its meaning is independent of the other tagging... Ojw 18:49, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal. -- Robx 20:38, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal, even if the name "service" sounds odd but it can be changed later if a better one is agreed upon. Alv 17:51, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Still up-to-date?

I was just translating this into German when I wondered if these Tags are still in use, since the page seems a bit deserted. --Driver2 22:30, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

The "railway" discussion ended in May this year. The "highway" discussion ended in August this year. According to Tagwatch there are now the following numbers used in Europe alone: parking_aisle (9642), driveway (1249), yard (872), spur (628), siding (220), alley (143), ...
Doesn't look very abandoned to me. Once upon a time people stop discussing tags and just start using them. --Cartinus 19:49, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Up to now there is only very few description about the tags. When to use driveway, alley etc.? --WanMil 18:56, 29 June 2009 (UTC)


Some fast-food restraurants provide a drive-through window. Often these are connected to the parking lot and not worth mapping, but in some cases it's meaningful. (Drivethru? drivethrough?)

I'm thinking of a proposal and (having never done so before) thought I'd float a trial baloon on the talk page first. -Fennecfoxen 18:31, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

A sound idea in the line of Tag:service=parking_aisle, I prefer the english spelling drive-through./Johan Jönsson 17:14, 21 September 2009 (UTC)


It needs write some words about key:service in Tag:shop=car --Calibrator 14:23, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Yeah or or it could just refer to the page. But just now I've also added a reference to shop=car_repair.
This raises the question, where should the list of different car services be documented? There's two different lists on the two different pages. Maybe they should be in this page. Or maybe a template put onto both those pages -- Harry Wood (talk) 18:09, 18 February 2016 (UTC)

Spur tagging and operator

Most major North American railroads separate their trackage into subdivisions (usually, on a main line, the distance one train crew can go, I believe) and lesser lines (spurs, branches, etc.), which are considered part of the subdivision and are served by crews from that subdivision. Does it seem reasonable to use this as the cutoff for spur?

Also, I've been using operator=* for the company that operates trains, not the "operator that the spur serves". Should I be using something else? (owner=* doesn't work because the owner may lease it to another company.) --NE2 02:17, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

service value for roads leading to apartment building entrances

what service value should i use for service roads that lead to the entrances of apartments buildings? they are primarily for lessees to reach the entrances of the buildings by foot, but are broader than footways so a single car can drive on them. they are normally blocked by a lift gate or removable bollard, so that only the operator of the apartments, movers or emergency vehicles can access them.


Screen shot 2011-05-22 at 03.59.21.png

--Flaimo 03:08, 22 May 2011 (BST)

This looks like it would be highway=pedestrian. --NE2 14:50, 22 May 2011 (BST)
isn't a driveway just something that leads towards houses? or can this term be used in such a general way, to also describe the situation mentioned above? --Flaimo 16:19, 22 May 2011 (BST)
As I understand it, a driveway is something that leads towards parking, which this doesn't seem to do. Certainly the primary use is foot traffic, so highway=pedestrian seems correct. --NE2 20:43, 22 May 2011 (BST)
not so sure about that either, since the wiki page says it should be used for bigger inner city streets and areas --Flaimo 23:46, 22 May 2011 (BST)
I've always understood highway=pedestrian as something that is physically a highway but functionally a walkway. This will usually occur in a downtown area, but there's no reason it can't be elsewhere. --NE2 00:14, 23 May 2011 (BST)
I'd definitely tag this as either a footway or pedestrian --Cartinus 11:01, 24 May 2011 (BST)
I too would say footway, probably with motor_vehicle=private. Alv 10:05, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
Looks like a service=driveway. --seav 00:55, 23 May 2011 (BST)
Even though it's only used by maintenance vehicles? How does it differ from, for example, a wide walkway on a college campus that official vehicles sometimes use? --NE2 01:49, 23 May 2011 (BST)

service value or equivalent for removed railway infrastructure

You have service=no for a bridge that is gone. I need something to tag other stuff on a railway that is gone. For a railway itself there are things like railway=abandoned. Enzedrail 07:05, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

rail link

Is link between rails a "siding"? Unsigned comment by Kr12 14:35, 12 March 2013‎ (UTC)

I've seen service=crossover used for the bits of rail that only link parallel tracks. Alv (talk) 15:47, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
service=crossover is the tag for tracks connecting both tracks of a two-tracked railway line. I've added it to this wiki page. --Nakaner (talk) 05:45, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

parking but no aisle

I wonder how to tag roads that are called Nebenfahrbahn in German. These run parallel to a main road, but access is restricted to those who intend to park along that service road. (There may be additional exceptions, e.g. through-traffic permitted for cyclists.) The topology is usually the same as depicted in the graphics for service=spur (which is, however, only defined for railways):


In contrast to service=parking_aisle, there is no real amenity=parking around, but only a parking:lane=* (optional tag). Taginfo delivers 16 K instances of service=parking, which sounds like what I'm looking for (parking_aisle without aisle). But many of these are just mis-tagged parking aisles, and many are dead-end roads, which is also not what I mean. --Fkv (talk) 12:27, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

Yes I understand. In addition, I am pretty annoyed how often the rule "The main way(s) on the parking lot, for entering and connecting multiple parking_aisle, should be mapped with highway=service, only" is ignored and every way on in a car park is tagged service=parking_aisle. I propose to use service=parking_access, which solves your problem, and fills the void that some mappers might feel when leaving the main way without a service=* tag. --Polarbear w (talk) 15:31, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

highway=service major classification: sub-tag value

We had a discussion on the list in March 2016 about introducing a new value for the service=* sub-tag of a highway=service, classifying it as a generic major service way category, in contrast to minor values such as service=parking_aisle or service=driveway or service=drive-through. Data consumers already make such distinction.

There was support for such a value, but recommendation that its scope should be wider than just covering parking lot situations.

A "mini-vote" was attempted here in the wiki to decide for a value that would be most suitable, however it did not get sufficient participation, removed for clarity, see history.

Proposed description: Voluntary sub-tag for a highway=service for distinguishing a major service way from sub-ordinated ways, or generally classify it into the major category. Examples are the access way into a parking lot (distinguished from parking_aisle), or a service way connecting several residential driveways.

Potential Values


Comments about values

The proposed values are not descriptive (service=access? all service roads are used for access!), and "a service way connecting several residential driveways" should certainly be highway=residential. --Fkv (talk) 01:53, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
Well, that's why I'd prefer 'main' or 'major' --Polarbear w (talk) 07:24, 10 October 2016 (UTC)
Of these two, I slightly prefer service=main, because it's analogous to entrance=main, and because a value called "major" would indicate that a value "minor" also exists.
There are already 396 instances of service=main, but virtually all of them on railways. I don't see why service=* tags shouldn't be used for both highways and railways when the purpose is the same. The purpose of the existing service=main tags is not obvious to me, though. I guess they come from some editor template. --Fkv (talk) 10:10, 10 October 2016 (UTC)
Yes, railway mappers have some fine distinction for their service tracks, and the potential overlap between the road and railway meaning was discussed initially on the tagging list. --Polarbear w (talk) 11:06, 10 October 2016 (UTC)

service=* for railway=tram

The railway=* section of this page currently focuses on main-line railways. I was looking at how I should tag service tracks in a tram system and found there is no documentation, but some of the current usage in the database is decently consistent. In particular, service=yard for tram garages is pretty universal, but service=siding and service=spur are intermixed. I summarized the findings in and proposed adding the following guidelines for service=* on railway=tram:

  • service=yard for tracks within and leading to tram storage and work areas ("yards", "garages", "depots" - where trams are parked overnight, maintained, light repairs)
  • service=siding for tracks not used for normally scheduled passenger service (including diversion-only, emergency, non-revenue trackage, as well as turn tracks not used in scheduled service)
  • service=crossover for crossover tracks (where dual-ended trams change direction - only use between two main tracks with no service tag - otherwise use service tag of the tracks that are connected)

Comments very much welcome, through mailing list or through here. I'll cross-post the comments onto mailing list if someone here is not familiar or comfortable with it. --Jarek Piórkowski (talk) 16:18, 22 January 2019 (UTC)

Update: I have written a draft of what I am suggesting to add to Key:service and put it at User:Jarek Piórkowski/Key:service. Comments here or edits to the userspace page are welcome. Thanks, Jarek Piórkowski (talk) 03:42, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

service=* for waterway=canal vs usage=*

I see that in March 2012 several values of service=* were documented for use with canals, i.e. service=irrigation (used 5700 times), service=water_power (721 times), service=transportation (22 times). In particular, service=irrigation is still more well used than usage=irrigation. Does anyone know when these tags were discussed? --Jeisenbe (talk) 14:32, 28 May 2019 (UTC)