Railway=station as an area?

There was a debate about mapping railway=stations as nodes vs. areas in October 2020 which I would like to continue. The discussion started when @DaveF changed the old tagging scheme illustration on the Wiki page to the new, current one.

  • The old scheme
    • featured public_transport=station and public_transport=platform tags
    • advised mapping railway=station to cover the area of the whole railway station as defined by railway regulations (between entry signals on both sides of the station).
  • The new scheme
    • doesn’t feature public_transport=station and public_transport=platform tags
    • advises mapping railway=station to cover the same area as public_transport=station.

After a back-and-forth of @dieterdreist undoing and @DaveF redoing this edit, a discussion was (re)opened in the Tagging mailing list by @dieterdreist asking for further comments—hence the warning template on the Wiki page.

  • @aharvey voiced support for retaining the old tagging scheme but said that “maybe a solution is keep railway=station and public_transport=station both defined as the passenger view, but use a new tag for rail infrastructure so you can still correctly map the station for train drivers.”
  • @Mateusz_Konieczny mentioned that “I tried mapping some railway station as areas and I ended not doing this. Either mapping would be quite arbitrary or include massive area that is not really relevant.”
  • @dieterdreist stated that “tagging concepts should accommodate both, the general mappers and the experts”.

(There was also a discussion about this in the Thailand community started in April 2020—the author decided on mapping railway=stations as nodes in the end.)

My opinions on these, respectively:

  • I think there is no need to have two separate tags for having stations mapped just from passengers’ point of view, as they would result in duplicates and create confusion.
  • I understand that it would be a lot of work to map greater stations. But first, smaller (4 or less tracks) stations make up for the vast majority of railway stations, where mapping would be easier. Second, it is indeed relevant to have an area for the whole station – as defined by railway regulations, which in Hungary is between entry signals on both sides of the station – because otherwise you can’t pair most railway station infrastructure elements (side tracks, switches, signals etc.) with the station they are located in. It would be really important to have these connections, e.g. I have a project where I need to download all infrastructure elements of a station from OSM, but I can’t do that now, because there is no easy way to tell which side track or switch belongs to which station. So I think it would worth it.
  • I agree that tagging should accommodate both general mappers and experts. In my opinion public_transport=station (which is mostly used on nodes) is suitable for passengers and general mappers. But I think tagging schemes should also enable expert use cases like the one I mentioned in the previous point.

Therefore I would recommend restoring the old tagging scheme on the Wiki page and adding a recommendation to map railway=stations as areas.

I apologise for the lengthy post, and I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this!

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Ce sujet de discussion accompagne la publication sur https://community.openstreetmap.org/t/railway-station-as-an-area/104839