GeoPandas has this really convenient tool sjoin_nearest() to find the nearest features to, say, each point in a dataframe. It can also return the distance:

distances = gpd.sjoin_nearest(points_gdf, lines_gdf, distance_col="distances")

But what if I want to find out the exact coordinates of the nearest node? I guess I could do a quite expensive operation exploding the lines to points, but as the sjoin_nearest operation found the distance to the nearest line (and did it pretty fast, by Python and GeoPandas standards) somehow, I'm guessing there must be a more efficient way?

1 Answer 1


You can use shapely.ops nearest points:

Returns a tuple of the nearest points in the input geometries. The points are returned in the same order as the input geometries.

import geopandas as gpd
from sqlalchemy import create_engine
from shapely.ops import nearest_points

#Read some local PostGIS data into two data frames    
con = create_engine(url="postgresql://postgres@localhost/data")
    road = gpd.read_postgis(sql="select geom from lmv.ok_vl_riks", con=con) #Line layer with roads
station = gpd.read_postgis(sql="select geom from lmv.ok_js_riks", con=con) #Point layer with railway stations
station["stationid"] = range(0, station.shape[0]) #Create a unique id, to use for dropping duplicates

#Join the points to the lines
station["pointgeom"] = station.geometry #Save the point geometry or it is lost in spatial join
sj = gpd.sjoin_nearest(left_df=road, right_df=station, how="inner", max_distance=500, distance_col="distance")

#Duplicate points/rows are created when there are multiple join features within max_distance. Drop the duplicates, keep the nearest
sj = sj.sort_values(by=["stationid", "distance"], ascending=True).drop_duplicates(subset="stationid", keep="first")
sj["nearest_point"] = sj.apply(lambda x: nearest_points(g1=x["geom"], g2=x["pointgeom"])[0], axis=1) #Calculate nearest points on line and the joined point. Keep index [0], which is the point on the line nearest to the joined point

#Plot a subset
ymin, xmin = 6945207.5,645918.3
ymax, xmax = 6951569.9,652789.3
subset = sj.cx[xmin:xmax, ymin:ymax]
ax = subset.plot(figsize=(20,20), color="black")
subset["pointgeom"].plot(ax=ax, marker = "s", color="red")
subset["nearest_point"].plot(ax=ax, marker="*", color="blue", markersize=200)

Black lines = roads, red squares = railway stations, blue stars = nearest point on line to red square.

enter image description here


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