I though today might be a good time to share another snapshot of my on-going project to Map all Belgium’s railways, past, present, and even to some extent future, with Google Earth. This snapshot is much more complete than the last one, though I still don’t consider it even close to finished.

The big change here is that I’ve finished breaking the elements up into three distinct categories, the lines themselves and the outlines of station sites, the major stations where lines start, end, and meet, and the other labels and stations. Inside the containing Belgian Railways folder in the KMZ you’ll now find these three groupings as folders. This makes it possible to turn off everything except for the lines themselves, so you can zoom out and see the big picture without clutter. You can then add in a little more detail by enabling just the main stations, and when you zoom in deeply you can turn everything back on.

As I’ve already said, I don’t consider this a finished product. For a start, the accuracy of the mapping of some of the lines is now behind the resolution of google earth in many areas. A lot of these lines were mapped before Google updated their imagery to cover the entire country in high resolution. I need to re-trace hundreds of km of past and present trackbed to refine the position. There are also still a few inconsistencies in style in some of the labels. As I re-visit all the lines one-by-one over the next few months I’ll be cleaning up those inconsistencies as well as refining the position of the lines. I still have a lot of work to do to trace station outlines. This was not really an option before the high-resolution imagery came out, so the vast majority of stations are not outlined yet.

Finally, at the moment the project contains very little historical data, and almost no links for further information. It’s my plan to add basic historical data and links to as many stations as possible in my next pass. I also plan on including data about the history of many of the lines before they were nationalised. In Belgium the state has run the railways for a long time, so it’s easy to forget the old historic railway companies.

Anyhow, with all the above caveats out of the way, here’s my latest KMZ file: