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Here's what I want to do:

enter image description here

The original line is a dissolved osm extract of ways, which I want to simplify to one continous line without dangles / loose ends (red x's in picture).

I found the network generalization tool in GRASS, but possibly there is a QGIS way ro remove loose ends.

If there is no QGIS-only approach to do it, what would the parameterization in GRASS would have to look like to yield the desired result?

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    You could route from the start to the end. Are you looking for the longest possible line as a result? e.g. on the left side: should the algorithm chose the longer "arm"? – underdark Oct 14 '14 at 16:04
  • @underdark, exactly! – Kay Oct 14 '14 at 19:01
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    There is an option in v.clean called rmdangle (from GRASS) which should remove dangles if the threshold is < 0. You can adjust the threshold if you use v.clean.advanced if dangles remain, although I have never used this option so cannot confirm if it will work. – Joseph Oct 15 '14 at 14:15
  • I found the Road Graph Plugin which will route through the network findung the shortest path, which yields exactly the continous line that I want - @underdark, if you put the routing-approach as an answer, I'll check it! – Kay Oct 16 '14 at 7:26
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    @Joseph, thanks for pinpointing the GRASS tool rmdangle, I'll also will have a look at it! – Kay Oct 17 '14 at 12:18
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If a (somewhat manual) approach is fine for you, you could route from the start to the end point e.g. using the Road Graph plugin.

Otherwise, you'd have to find a way to automatically detect where the start and end points are.

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