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[openrailwaymap] Station importance

Alexander Matheisen AlexanderMatheisen at
Thu Mar 3 22:43:38 MET 2016

Hello everybody,

almost a year ago I asked on this mailing list how to tag the
importance of a station:

Sadly this discussion ended after a while without any results. Now I
want to start a second attempt, hopefully with a draft that we can
document in the OpenRailwayMap tagging scheme and implement for
rendering stations in OpenRailwayMap.

A summary of the previous discussion:

Currently we use the tag railway:station_category=1-7 for mapping the
German railway station category (, but
this is very german-specific. We need a way to tag the importance of a
station using generic definitions that are independent from any country
-specific categories.

Numeric values are not user-friendly, terms are preferred. The
importance of stations is useful for rendering. This information is
necessary e.g. for rendering only major stations in low zoom levels. It
is also necessary for the decision which label is rendered in cases of
collision. The importance of stations is also necessary for ranking
search results. There are no other ways to distinguish the importance
of stations.

Looking at route relations associated to a stations could be a possible
solution, but is very complex to implement and would require
preprocessing. This would also just work for passenger stations, but
not for e.g. freight yards.

Looking at the number of platforms is also complex to implement and
does not produce useful results (examples: http://lists.openrailwaymap.

Recently I discovered that there is already a proposal for tagging the
importance of various features, including stations: I like that proposal
and suggest the following definitions:

* importance=international:
  * Location and served areas: located in big cities (often capitals),
an important node in the international and national long-distance
traffic network, is a central node of the public transport network of
large region
  * Traffic: highspeed trains, long-distance trains, night trains,
regional trains, commuter trains
  * Examples: Frankfurt (Main), Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, Salzburg

* importance=national:
  * Location and served areas: located in cities with national
importance, important for interchanging between long-distance and
regional trains, used for interchanging between long-distance trains
that connect different parts of a country, important node of the
regional public transport network
  * Traffic: (mostly national) long-distance trains, regional trains,
commuter trains
  * Examples: Mainz, Mannheim, Bonn, Freiburg (Breisgau), Magdeburg

* importance=regional:
  * Location and served areas: located in cities and larger towns with
regional importance, important for interchanging between regional
trains, important node of the regional public transport network
  * Traffic: regional trains, commuter trains
  * Examples: Düren, Euskirchen, Lienz

* importance=urban:
  * Location and served areas: located in towns and larger villages
with local importance, used for connecting these places to larger
cities, important node of the local public transport network, used for
interchanging between local public transport routes
  * Traffic: regional trains stopping only in important stations
(Regionalexpress in Germany), regional and commuter trains (S- und
Regionalbahnen in Germany)
  * Examples: Remagen, Andernach, Dormagen, Wernigerode

* importance=suburban:
  * Location and served areas: located in suburbs of metropolitan
areas, connecting suburbs and bigger light rail and tram stations
  * Traffic: commuter trains (S-Bahnen in Germany), light rails (U-
oder Stadtbahnen in Germany)
  * Examples: Düsseldorf-Friedrichstadt, Köln Hansaring

* importance=local:
  * Location and served areas: typically located in rural areas,
hamlets, villages
  * Traffic: regional trains stopping at every station (Regionalbahnen
in Germany)
  * Examples: Satzvey, Dalheim, Brocken, Drei Annen-Hohne

This is more a characterization than a definition due to the situation
that the boundaries between these categories are fluid, similar to road
types in OpenStreetMap.

I propose to leave the existing railway:station_category=* tags for
mapping country-specific categories like the German railway station

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