I often go to the openrailway.org site and look for the historical, or abandoned railways. Sometimes, I check, correct or add something, in the OSM, and it then appears in the Railway map.
Here, I found a structure, which was not there some time before, when I was there last time (months ago?)
It is in Northern Macedonia, between the towns of Struga and Ohrid. It looks like railway, but is named “New Road” and also “NP”.
But, when I go to openstreetmap.org to the edit mode, to look what is it, it is not there!
The deleted abandoned railways can be seen here. Part remains as this, but to be honest, I’d struggle to map that as railway=abandoned because it’s not really visible as a current feature - there is nothing left**.
** and I say this who is more than keen to record current abandoned railways, since they’re very often major features on the landscape whose “railwayness” is very clear - see here for example. I even look after a renderer myself that shows them in some detail.
Then it is razed, see lifecycle prefixes. These are still useful for various reasons, for example (apart from displaying originally existing lines) its base is usually well built and provide a stable (tracktype=1-2-3) base for paths and tracks; often the vegetation is less thick and it may be even embanked, and artificially going through rocky/hilly areas.
It is often up to debate how many and what kinds of historical information do we keep in the database, but in this specific case there are data consumers actually using this data, so it has useful purpose.
Lifecycle::razed is definitely applicable tagging for any feature which has been there but it’s not anymore, regardless of what object is there after that. (An example is hiking paths which are distinctive for following a razed railway, but both is “visible” since the railway base is well built, even if the rails itself are long gone. Other example is the obvious display and analysis of railway lines, including various kinds of “gone” rails.)
What you’re describing there sounds like a “less obvious” version of abandoned. Usually in OSM, razed is used for “there is nothing at all left of this feature”, and there is considerable debate about whether such things belong in OSM at all, as opposed to OpenHistoricalMap. As an example there have been no trace of anything railway here for many years.
Strictly speaking “abandoned” means that the rail (metal) is still visible, rusty, forgotten, while “razed” means that the rail and the sleepers are gone, and only the “disturbed” environment suggests that there has been something there.
Indeed, and the debate rather involves the question as to what extent do we consider something “recent” as opposed to “historical”. We can say that it is not yet decided, so keeping razed railways is not against the will of Gods. (And removing them just because someone do not like them would be imroper and impolite.)
(I met the usefulness of them when I was curious why do I have a clear, very useful “path” in the middle of nowhere without any real path being there, just grass; turned out it has been a railway long ago and the base still keep the vegetation away.)
(But these are not displayed in the default view so it hurts nobody’s eyes.)
I don’t have a photo handy but railways were often built as layers of compacted ground, then small rocks, then a thin layer ground, then the sleepers and the rail metal. When they removed the railway line they removed the metal rails and the sleepers, but the (under)ground still contains the rocks and the compacted base. Sometimes enbanked, sometimes just ground level, possibly visible rocks, but not necessarily.
The wiki tries to explain it (in a different context though):
railway=abandoned - for partially dismantled tracks is still used…
railway=razed - for fully dismantled tracks and trackbed (overbuilt state) is still…
So “abandoned” is at most partially dismantled, while “razed” is fully dismantled (though wiki suggests “trackbed” as well).
I am sure this is also actively debated.
As for removal, the wiki says about demolished, removed and razed (apart from that there is little difference between them):
The following four tags are available to reduce the possibility of a mapper remapping the feature from existing available sources used to edit OSM, e.g. satellite or aerial imagery, that shows the old state of the feature. Once the OSM available sources do not show the feature, the feature can safely be removed from OSM. Renderers cannot rely on OSM preserving physically vanished history.
It may be up to the interpretation whether sources about historical railways are considered existing and still showing the feature, or not.