Talk:OpenRailwayMap/Tagging in North America

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Signal images

I think the signal images should be vectorized. They are largely made up of lines and circular shapes, so SVG versions of them would make sense. -happy5214 00:25, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

I believe the author is User:YamaOfParadise. You may wish to make contact and suggest this as I'm not sure a Talk entry will get this person's attention. I've tried contact directly (OSM missive) but have yet to receive a response. You might also try to do the vectorizing yourself, as I agree that svg files are better for these sorts of data. Then again, it may be a not-especially-worthwhile endeavor, as the graphics work is already done, yet it isn't in the most appropriate format.

Should Class II rail in the USA be usage=main or usage=branch?

(From this talk-us thread).

I realize that distinctions between railway=rail + usage=* tags is subjective (even as OpenRailwayMap — ORM — renders main orange and branch yellow). Full disclosure: I have tried to sharpen focus in contributing to our ORM Tagging wiki and related wiki re OSM rail tagging. I am in a listening mode as I do so and don't wish to be too aggressive in positing anything too new or too controversial.

I have not done a comprehensive review of how many Class II railroads (a category of regional railroad in the USA which is not usually as "short line" as Class IIIs, but neither is it as large as the mighty Class Is) are tagged usage=main vs. usage=branch. I now toss out as a question in the USA (Overpass Turbo can query) a wider beginning of consensus regarding Class II railroads being tagged usage=main instead of usage=branch. In short, all discussion is welcome: calling all interested parties.

Starting with Central Oregon and Pacific (reporting mark CORP) now tagged usage=branch, might this better be tagged usage=main? Should other USA Class II railroads be tagged usage=main as a matter of course? I'm leaning in that direction, suggesting that CORP and other Class II railroads see usage=* tags become main (if not main, be changed from branch to main).

Comments? This includes soliciting Comments from overseas readers, like in Germany...those who wrote the ORM renderer and "watch" (and at least pay attention) to such things. (The concept of "Class II" railroad might literally be a foreign concept, but I believe European, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, pan-Asian, African, Australian, South American...all worldwide OSM rail mapping watchers can understand Class II in the context of "USA Rail"): these are "medium/regional-sized" railroads, measured economically by revenue as "between large interstate carriers and short line/more-local carriers."

If you are a rail fan / rail buff or otherwise find OSM rail-useful, please consider chiming in here and now as a way to better establish a modicum of sub-community (OSM-US rail interest). I have heard from many over the years and consider hearing from others a polite nod in this direction. I also welcome all others and all "new comers" (from my limited perspective) — those with whom I have no idea you are "out there." Thank you. Stevea (talk) 16:22, 16 June 2018 (UTC)

Is the CORP a Class II railroad? The list on Wikipedia is a complete mess, and I couldn't find a list of Class II and III railroads on the STB website. When I found a local news source for the CORP line reopening, the article said the CORP was a Class III railroad. In either case, I don't believe it currently has the traffic needed to warrant usage=main. There are some Class II railroads whose mainlines should be tagged as such, like Alaska, Iowa Interstate, Long Island, and Florida East Coast. I think the tagging of Class II railroad mainlines should be done on a case-by-case basis. -happy5214 01:14, 17 June 2018 (UTC)
Nice to hear from you, old friend! I don't recall exactly from where I determined that CORP is Class II, though I do recall at least two different sources that said this. Yet I've also seen some California (Department of Transportation) documentation that calls it Class III. However, I agree with you on all points: that traffic likely doesn't warrant usage=main on CORP, that the Class II's you list are "significantly major rail" that DOES warrant usage=main and that these decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. Thanks for your input here, especially as others might find this talking point and act accordingly in the future. Stevea (talk) 17:03, 17 June 2018 (UTC)
Wikipedia shows CORP as Class II, citing an STB decision from 2007. I no longer consider that reliable due to age. -happy5214 21:09, 17 June 2018 (UTC)


It's an interesting question if anybody is paying attention: what about the "mainline" (yes, these things can be subjective, hence this discussion) of Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad (RCPE), one of GNWR's four Class II railroads? (BTW, CORP is another). Its "mainline" goes from Tracy, Minnesota (where it interchanges with CP) to Huron, South Dakota (on RCPE's Huron Subdivision), then further west (on RCPE's Pierre Subdivision) to Pierre, South Dakota, then further west (on RCPE's PRC Subdivision) to Rapid City, South Dakota. Sure, RCPE has a couple/few additional minor spurs, but this certainly is its "mainline," something like 450 miles of solid east-to-west railroad. It "dead ends" northwesterly, forking from Rapid City northerly to Colony, Wyoming on RCPE's Black Hills Subdivision, though continues from Rapid City southerly (again on RCPE's Black Hills Sub) to Dakota Jct/Chadron, then Crawford, Nebraska (on RCPE's Crawford Subdivision, tagged usage=branch), where it interchanges with BNSF on Butte Subdivision, FINALLY connecting with agreed-upon "mainline" (tagged usage=main).

Take a look with ORM at South Dakota: it is a virtual desert of mainline rail, except for 61 miles in the nether SW and SE corners of the state. Again: RCPE is Class II and the three subdivisions stitched together on the same railroad in the previous paragraph (Huron, Pierre, RPC) are a fairly direct east-west route for 450 miles. Should these three subdivisions be changed from usage=branch to usage=main? I have read from happy that "the amount of traffic" is another helpful datum by which to judge whether a "line" is "main" vs. "branch" but I have no idea how much traffic is here. Still, for sheer connectivity (Tracy, Minnesota through all the width of South Dakota to BNSF mainline in Nebraska), as well as serious length, this seems like it may very well be mainline rail. On the other hand, much of it appears single tracked and it serves only freight; no Amtrak (and virtually no passenger service at all in South Dakota, except a couple of short heritage lines). Stevea (talk) 11:20, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

The RCPE was formed as a spin-off from the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (DME), which is a subsidiary of CP ultimately derived from former Chicago and North Western trackage.
Passenger service is irrelevant IMO. There are many undeniable mainlines that don't currently have Amtrak or other passenger service.
When I assess the connectivity arguments, I ask if the line ends at other usage=main lines (the combined RCPE/DME line does in Winona, and arguably at Crawford, NE, at a BNSF line), if the corridor is "significant" (I'd say this is), and if a busier line serves the same corridor (I don't see such a busier parallel line here; this is a huge knock for CORP). Since I can answer "yes" to the first two questions and "no" to the third, this satisfies the connectivity test.
According to a citation from Trains on the RCPE Wikipedia article, RCPE transported 64k carloads annually as of 2015. By comparison, this is almost 4 times more than the CORP, while the Iowa Interstate transported "over 100,000" in 2015. Traffic-wise, this is probably borderline.
Overall, I would advise to re-tag the line from Winona, MN, to Rapid City as usage=main, with an option to continue that tag along the Crawford Subdivision to the BNSF Butte Subdivision. -happy5214 12:12, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

Interesting. I can "get" (both "understand" and "go easterly from Tracy") to Mankato, Minnesota as this is where the RCPE has its easternmost interchange with UP. You're saying those segments, PLUS even further eastwards (via Dakota Minnesota & Eastern) to Winona all upgrade from branch to main? OK, that makes sense to me. Back on the westerly edge of South Dakota, what about that southerly segment of RCPE's Black Hills Subdivision, south of Rapid City? If that were mainline instead of branch, we go from the western edge of Wisconsin (just about) to the western edge of Nebraska. Yeah, the Crawford seems better left as branch, at least for now. Seems like a straight-line mainline shot west-to-east (or east-to-west) right through the middle of the lower 48. Thanks for your quick reply! I'll get around to tagging in the next few hours. Stevea (talk) 12:44, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

Now updated in OSM and at South_Dakota/Railroads. Thanks for the research, tips, pointers and encouragement, Alexander! Stevea (talk) 14:29, 7 October 2018 (UTC)