OpenStreetMap

Gpoilvet's Diary

Recent diary entries

Station zoning, rail signs and signals

Posted by Gpoilvet on 29 September 2023 in English. Last updated on 16 October 2023.

Intro

The Belgian train operator NMBS (Dutch)/SNCB(French) is seeking to improve travelers guidance along its stations and for this it wants to improve the OpenStreetMap data quality of its stations https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/WikiProject_Belgium/Stations. One such project aims to have a better view as to where a certain train wagon would stop on a given track. This as to now exactly where the 1st Class wagon is, the bike wagon is and so on. However to be able to show this it needs a detailed view of platform zoning, the rail signs and the signaling. (Below you will find what those signals exactly mean.)

Zoning

What:

Some stations divide its platforms in zones. You have in general two types of zoning (I call those two types) general zoning and specific zoning platforms. On general zoning platforms you will find panels A B etc. besides the platform number. Often you will even see those numbers reoccur multiple times on a specific platform. On specific zoning platforms however you will find panels like B2, B1, A1, A2 and those are uniquely placed along the platform.

Specific zoning General zoning

Location of object in OpenStreetMap:

A station zoning signal is mapped as a point that is placed on a edge of a platform (polygon).

Tagging in OpenStreetMap:

  • railway=platform_marker
  • ref=A2 (I use for general zoning: track number and than the letter (ex. 2A) while for specific zoning I just put the zoning like A2).
  • ref:track= 5 (To specify the track number.)
  • level=1 (Look at the level value in the platform object, if none present you don’t need to add this.)

Rail signs

What:

In some stations you might see rail signs. A rail sign tells where a train with a certain amount of wagons should stop. In the case for Belgium you will find them at the edge of platforms indicated as blue numbers on a white background. Important to notice that often you might find them in two directions of a track, each set of numbers of course being linked to the driving direction of the train. (You cant see a signal in both directions and this is good as it would not be wise since counting depends on the driving direction of a train). Rail sign

Location of object in OpenStreetMap:

A rail signal should be mapped as a point on the train track (line object). (Eventhough in reality it is alongside the track, the reason this is done is to make computing of data much easier.)

Tagging in OpenStreetMap:

  • railway=signal
  • ref=6 (The number)
  • ref:track= 5 (To specify the track number.)
  • railway:signal:position= “left” or “right” (Indicates on which side of the track the signal is located. You need to take in to account the direction of the track.)
  • railway:signal:direction= “forward” or “backward” (Indicates if the signal is facing towards the direction of the track or is facing it backwards).
  • level=1 (Look at the level value in the platform object, if none present you don’t need to add this.)

Signals

What:

Similar to traffic lights that guide traffic along a junction, so do trains have traffic lights, so called signals. You will find them all along a train track and especially in stations and on rail junctions. Signal (example. Belgium)

Location of object in OpenStreetMap:

To map them in OpenStreetMap you place a point on a track (line object) right besides where in reality stands the signal.

Tagging in OpenStreetMap:

  • railway=signal
  • ref = C-K.6 (The reference number of the signal, normally it is marked on the signal.)
  • ref:track= 5 (To specify the track number.)
  • railway:signal:direction= “forward” or “backward” (Similar to railsigns do the position of direction matter. Depending on the direction of the track the signal would face it (so “forward”) or be seen from the backside (“backward”).
  • railway:signal:position= “left” or “right” (Depending on the direction of the track you add on which the signal in reality is located.)
  • railway:signal:main=BE:GSA (Indicates whether it is part of the national train signal network. For te case of Belgium the official reference is BE:GSA.)
  • level= 1 (Look at the level value in the platform object, if none present you don’t need to add this.)