I need to get all railways in Germany, specifically the electrified ones, for an university project.

I found two ways of getting the data.

  1. Download the all the OSM data for a the desired region via. geofabrik.de (als .osm.pbf) Then extract the desired railways or the electrified ones specifically. The "how" is no a part of the problem (osmosis, Osmium, ... are options to consider).

  2. Via a QGIS plug-in called QuickOSM. The plug-in allows me to search for railways (as a key) and rail (as a value). After this I used the attribute table to get the electrified railways and saved the outcome as new layer.

Is the outcome the very same for both ways? If not 100%, if the second one extract all the data properly. Somebody told me that the shapefiles do not contain all but a small amount of attributes. Does this apply as well if I use the plugin QuickOSM?

  • 1
    Welcome to GIS SE. As a new user, please take the Tour, which emphasizes the importance of asking One question per Question. A litany of conditional questions can often be viewed as multiple questions, and the definition of "very same" might not be as clear as possible. Wouldn't you learn more if you researched this for yourself?
    – Vince
    Jun 11 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


Read the docs about the GDAL OSM driver https://gdal.org/drivers/vector/osm.html and osmconf.ini configuration file https://github.com/OSGeo/gdal/blob/master/data/osmconf.ini. Finding railway=rail should find all the railways with both options. It is possible that some railways will and to relations or other_relations layers with GDAL based method, including QuickOSM, but railways should not get lost.

Very-very same result is unlikely if you compare daily excerpt in Geofabrik with up-to-date query from a live database. Make a test for finding out how many railway features are normally updated per day in Germany.

  • All results, especially from OSM, depend on quality of the data, especially attributes. Everyone can contribute to OSM, so data quality is often an issue.
    – Babel
    Jun 12 at 9:06

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