Collab:Federal States/Railways/Resources

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This page provides resources for mapping railways in the Federal States and documents other ideas and conversations that have occurred as the AR120 project has grown and evolved. For information regarding railway companies in the Federal States, visit Collab:Federal States/Railways/Companies.

This page details discussions on how the railway network of the Federal States came to be and provides valuable information and references in regards to mapping and tagging railways in the Federal States.

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2020 Advisory Survey

In June 2020, an advisory survey was posted on the FSA forums to better understand the opinions of the FSA community in regards to planning and organizing freight and passenger railroad companies and routings. The survey was posted for approximately one week, with 22 valid responses received.

Narrative Summary

Respondents generally felt that a national consistent standard for tagging railways and route relations was important, but not essential. Only three tags were considered "essential" by a majority of respondents: name, operator, and service. Most respondents had already reached out to neighboring states regarding the creation of interstate routes and feel quite comfortable doing so; the community significantly prefers a more regional approach to organizing routes than a nationally-led initiative. However, respondents were split evenly on whether individual states should be permitted to deny, block, or otherwise opt out of participating in railway collaboration efforts. There is strong -- but not overwhelming -- support for mapping routes through vacant states.

Most respondents had a general understanding of the existing rail structure in the United States, and all respondents supported a system with multiple competing railway companies throughout the country. There is strong support for a single national passenger rail provider that operates low-speed low-frequency trains throughout the country; however, there is also very strong support for independent regional passenger rail companies to supplement the national network with higher speed and/or higher-frequency services in areas that warrant it. There is also strong support for high-speed rail (HSR) in the FSA; however, the high-speed rail network should consist of several regionally-organized networks rather than a single national HSR network. There is also strong support for companies and individual routes to be tagged with route relations nationwide; however, mappers should get the permission of each affected stateowner before applying the relation to other states.

Data Summary

Twenty-two valid responses were received. Aggregated results are below.


  • How important do you feel it is to have a standardized tagging system for railways throughout the FSA? (1-5 scale, 1=low 5=high) Average: 3.45/5
  • How important do you feel it is to have standardized route relations for railways throughout the FSA? (1-5 scale, 1=low 5=high) Average: 3.68/5
  • What tags should be considered *essential* for all main-line railways in the FSA?
gauge operator usage name service electrified frequency voltage rail (write-in)
10 (45.5%) 18 (81.8%) 11 (50.0%) 19 (86.4%) 12 (54.5%) 6 (27.2%) 0 (0.0%) 1 (4.5%) 1 (4.5%)
  • Free response: Are there any other comments or suggestions you have in regards to tagging railways?
  • "In general I think the more detailed the better, especially because of how much it would be helpful to get all the data in a multimap."
  • "Relations are probably helpful especially for when multiple railways temporarily share tracks but we probably need to add the tracks to the relations ourselves individuallly to minimize edit conflicts"
  • "We should just refer to OSM documentation for tagging"
  • "The tag name=* should be used for the subdivision, division, or line name and not for the full operator name (e.g. Lake City Subdivision (MCRR))"
  • "I've no clue why the obsessive interest in this aspect of mapping. Realistic and interesting beats technically correct tagging every single time."
  • "For the purposes of infrastructure, including rail yards and establishing routes, it's important to determine whether the rail system in the FSA will be privately operated or government operated. Since rail yards are constructed in locations to maximize efficiency of the rail system, determining the rail lines is important."


  • Have you already coordinated with neighboring states to plan and/or map a specific interstate railway route?
  • Yes: 16 (72.7%)
  • Not yet, but I am planning to: 3 (13.6%)
  • No: 3 (13.6%)
  • How comfortable do you feel reaching out to your neighbors to collaborate on a railway route? (1-5 scale, 1=low 5=high) Average: 4.09/5
  • Choose the option below that best describes how you think railway routes and corridors should be planned.
  • Neighboring stateowners should work directly with each other to plan and assemble individual routes as needed: 4 (18.2%)
  • Regions should create their own planned corridor network with input from each state in the region, but some states can choose to "opt out" or not participate in the exercise: 6 (27.3%)
  • Regions should create their own planned corridor network but individual states should not be able to prevent a corridor from running through their state: 10 (45.5%)
  • The railway network should be master-planned at the national level through ongoing discussion, debate, and participation of all the states: 1 (4.5%)
  • The railway network should be master-planned at the national level by a small group of interested mappers, with stateowners expected to comply with the final plan: 1 (4.5%)
  • Choose the option below that best describes how you think corridors should be planned through inactive states, or states with owners who do not want to map a railway through their state.
  • We should respect that each stateowner is free to map their state as they see fit, which includes the right to outright deny a rail corridor: 1 (4.5%)
  • A stateowner should have a very good rationale for not permitting a railway in their state; if they do, that decision should be honored and other alternatives should be sought: 10 (45.5%)
  • Being a stateowner in the FSA project means making some compromises: a stateowner should be required to map a railway corridor if neighboring states on both sides agree: 8 (36.4%)
  • If a stateowner is unwilling or unable to map a rail corridor that is agreed to by neighboring states, another stateowner should be permitted to go ahead and map that corridor in their state: 3 (13.6%)
  • Choose the option below that best describes how corridors should be mapped through vacant ("green") states.
  • Rail corridors that are planned should be mapped in vacant states so the next stateowner knows what corridors and connections are planned regionally: 13 (59.1%)
  • A "clean slate" is important for new mappers to start their state with. Planned corridors should be included on the wiki so future stateowners know they exist, but they should not be added to the map until a state is claimed: 9 (40.9%)
  • Each stateowner should be able to start their state with a fully clean slate. Planned connections through vacant states should not be permitted: 0 (0.0%)
  • Free response: Are there any other comments or suggestions you have regarding routes and corridors?
  • "More information and discussion needs to go via the forum, not everyone is going to use discord and the perception that a small number of discord users are pushing the agenda is damaging to the FSA project and OGF as a whole."
  • "While railways need to be planned regionally and between neighbors first and foremost, especially for class IIs and IIIs, for class Is there may need to be a larger national conversation to ensure that corridors connect all the way through and names are consistent."
  • "In general I think that regional coordination but with more general national level planning is essential. There wasn't really an option for that, so here you have it."
  • "As mentioned previously, the construction of rail infrastructure will be contingent upon the rail system as a whole."

Railway Companies

  • How familiar are you with the existing overall structure of railway companies in the United States? (1-5 scale, 1=low 5=high) Average: 3.00/5
  • Which statement best describes your thoughts on how major FSA railway companies should be organized?
  • The Federal States should have one nationalized railway company that covers both freight and passenger operations: 0 (0.0%)
  • The Federal States should have a small number of major railway companies that provide the majority of freight and passenger rail service nationwide, with no dedicated individual national passenger rail provider: 8 (36.4%)
  • Like the United States, the Federal States should have a small number of major railway companies that provide the majority of freight service, and a single national passenger railway company that operates on those freight routes: 9 (40.9%)
  • The Federal States should have dozens of railway companies that provide freight and/or passenger rail service over shared railways using "trackage rights" nationwide: 5 (22.7%)
  • How should the names of the FSA's major freight railway companies be determined?
  • A list of names should be submitted by stateowners, with the names of the largest companies chosen by the FSA community and applied to a master-planned network of routes: 6 (27.3%)
  • A mapper should be permitted to create their own company and apply that name to only one mainline inter-regional corridor and some smaller branch lines: 2 (9.1%)
  • A mapper should be permitted to create their own company and is allowed to create an extensive network themselves (with the permission of each state in their network): 6 (27.3%)
  • Each region should have its own major railway company, with names and regional networks to be determined at the regional level: 7 (31.8%)
  • A mapper should be permitted to create their own company for class IIIs and some class II railroads and create limited network themselves within their state or with the permission of each state in their network, but each region should work together to ensure a cohesive network that matches up across borders (write-in): 1 (4.5%)
  • What best describes your opinion on the FSA's passenger rail *company* structure?
  • The Federal States should have a single nationalized railway company that includes both freight and passenger operations: 1 (4.5%)
  • The Federal States should have a single nationalized passenger railway company that operates all passenger rail in the nation (except commuter railroads): 5 (22.7%)
  • The Federal States should have a national passenger railway company that provides minimal but basic service nationwide, with states or regions that have higher demand organizing their own passenger rail companies: 11 (50.0%)
  • All passenger rail services should be organized at the regional level, with no national passenger railway company: 5 (22.7%)
  • Each freight railway company should operate their own passenger rail service: 0 (0.0%)
  • What best described your opinion on the FSA's passenger rail *service* structure?
  • The Federal States should have a nationwide high-speed rail network that connects all major population centers and operates entirely independently from freight service: 4 (18.2%)
  • The Federal States should have regional high-speed rail corridors that connect logical population centers, but nationally passenger service is provided on shared freight tracks at lower speeds and lower frequencies: 12 (54.5%)
  • The Federal States should not have high-speed rail, since the nation has a robust motorway and commercial aviation network; however, a national low-speed, low-frequency passenger rail network should be created: 5 (22.7%)
  • The Federal States should not have any national passenger rail network, with passenger trains operating regionally only: 1 (4.5%)
  • The Federal States should not have any passenger rail service at all: 0 (0.0%)
  • Should each railway company use route relations to identify where they operate?
  • Yes, and mappers should feel free to add relations to railways outside their state to complete networks as needed: 5 (22.7%)
  • Yes, and mappers should be able to add relations to railways outside their state with the permission of the stateowner: 13 (59.1%)
  • Yes, but mappers should only add relations to railways within their own state: 3 (13.6%)
  • No, we do not need to use route relations: 1 (4.5%)
  • Free response: Are there any other comments or suggestions you have regarding railway companies?
  • "We should really use route relations, and any mapper qualified to make should whenever possible. Other then that, this isn't really my area of expertise, so I'm not totally sure."

Conclusions and Next Steps

Consensus Points

There appears to be a strong consensus that the FSA should have the following:

  • Numerous freight railroad companies
  • A single low-speed, low-frequency national passenger rail company
  • Independent regional passenger rail and regional high-speed rail companies
  • Route planning at the local/regional level rather than at the national level
  • Including at a minimum the name=*, operator=*, and service=* tags when mapping railways
  • Route relations
  • The ability to plan routes through vacant states

Outstanding Issues

There does not appear to be any clear consensus on the following:

  • Route planning collaboratively at the regional level vs. led by individual mappers
  • How the largest rail companies are formed and names chosen
  • Whether states can opt out or decline routes or companies within their state

Next Steps

The draft framework created following the advisory survey was approved by the stateowners of the FSA by a vote of 31-2. Information about forming and creating railway companies in the FSA can now be found at OGF:Federal States/Railways/Companies.

General overview

Involved territories

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Related forum discussions

Preferred tagging of railways

Railways in the Federal States are members of the International Railway Union and have to be mapped by using the tags

  • "railway"="station"
    • "name"=name of the station

related osm-wiki articles: Openstreetmap logo.svg Tagging in North America

General agreement/consensus


ArchRail is a major railroad passenger corporation that provides medium- and long-distance service. Additional regional passenger rail services also exist.

For more, see the section about long-distance passenger transport.

Current situation

Current situation in the US

related wikipedia articles: Tango style Wikipedia Icon.svg Rail transportation in the United States

Find currently mapped railways in the FS:

Quality assurance

Railway route relations

Route relations

>> How to use

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Capital District

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East Massodeya

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New Carnaby

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West Massodeya

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Neighboring countries

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Freight transport

Current situation in the US

related wikipedia articles: Tango style Wikipedia Icon.svg Rail freight transport, Tango style Wikipedia Icon.svg Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Tango style Wikipedia Icon.svg Union Pacific , Tango style Wikipedia Icon.svg CSX Transportation, Tango style Wikipedia Icon.svg Norfolk Southern

Class 1 railway lines in the US
BNSF lines

UP lines

CSX lines

NS lines

Intermodal train terminals

Current situation

Find currently mapped freight railways in the FS:

Quality assurance

Freight corridors

State mappers are encouraged to coordinate with neighboring states and other regional states to assemble freight rail corridors. While these corridors are being assembled, they should be listed in the Freight Corridor Workspace section of [[Talk:OGF:Federal States/Railways]]. In the future, these corridors will be consolidated and assembled into national freight railroad companies.

To decide about reasonable freight corridors it is important to know where freight have to be transported. Mapped industry and harbors can be easily found by using overpass queries:

Questions (to be answered in a multimap)

Technical details

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Freight rail companies

Companies are only required to tag the operator correctly. Therefore, companies in the following are just a "collection", nothing is fixed so far:


Passenger transport

Apart from some single trains (on freight tracks) there is no dense nationwide passenger rail transport network in the Federal States.

Commuter rails

There are numerous commuter traffic networks, in large cities and metropolitan areas. No detailed discussion about that since they are not relevant on this page (since they are only related to one state and/or neighbors)!

Long-distance passenger transport

Long-distance passenger trains run on freight tracks, so collaboration can be focused on defining national standards:

  • length of trains? (to map the platform length) OSM: 210 - 250 m Washington Union, New Haven Union; 300 m Boston South; 355 m Philadelphia 30th Street, New York Penn' (histor)
Current situation in the US

related wikipedia articles: Tango style Wikipedia Icon.svg Amtrak

Amtrak lines, please keep in mind that some connections only run once a week!

Find currently mapped ArchRail lines:

Quality assurance

High-speed line at the East Coast?

related wikipedia articles: Tango style Wikipedia Icon.svg Acela Express

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