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Rich's Blog

My New Tube Map

So here’s something I’ve been meaning to try for years; my take on a new tube map. When TFL recently updated the map to include some new Overground lines and the newly acquired TFL Rail in North East London, I sensed it was time. I know lots of people have already tried, circular, geographic, New York-eqsue etc., but the map was looking messier than ever and I wanted to take a stab at it.

At first glance you may think it doesn’t look all that different. A few seconds in you may start to spot what I’ve done and the closer you look, the bigger changes slowly become more apparent.

My brief to myself

Simplify. Simplify. SIMPLIFY.


Things I've kept

  • Vertical, horizontal and 45 degree lines, from Beck’s original, of course
  • Interchange circles and the rectangles used for non-interchange stations


Things I've removed

  • The Thames (see below for my comment on enforcing the anti-geographic rule)
  • Disability access (for now, keep reading)
  • Removed as many of the extra curves to keep the connecting lines as straight as possible
  • Removed gaps between lines that travel alongside each other, even if not on the same track
  • TFL Rail & Emirates Air Line. Neither are Tube lines and including TFL Rail wouldn't be a proper representation of all the other London rail services. (I guess the next challenge is to do a rail version?)


Things I've changed

  • All lines and stations now sit on a grid. (Well, almost all. It was tricky in particular in North East London. If you can spot the handful that aren’t, 5 points to you)
  • Straightened and tidied up outer zones’ lines and stations. A key part of my rationale was to enforce the anti-geographic rule even further. The importance of knowing where stations are when you're underground is far less important than knowing where they are in relation to the previous/next station. Therefore have managed to make the Northern line, for example, very straight and point North(!)
  • Simplified interchanges with all lines going in to one circle
    • For example: Bank and monument now appear as one station, as do Wood Lane and White City
    • If you can change lines using TFL signage, then it goes in to one circle
    • It also works the other way. Originally Clapham High Street and Clapham North were combined but in reality they are two different stations a 5 minute walk from each other
    • However, I will need to research further some stations I'm less familiar with that I've combined to make sure what I've done is actually correct
    • I’ve only kept the connected interchange circles, where necessary, to indicate different tracks on same line
  • Made zones more fluid, like ripples. They now do not distract from grid of lines and stations, rather sit behind them as an extra layer
  • Given more prominence to National Rail connections, by bringing the icon in to the centre of interchange circle
  • One big change I’ve made is colouring the station names according to their lines, if they only exist on one line. It makes the map easier to glance at and easier to tell when a train, for example stops on the District line but not on the Piccadilly line


Disability access

This is clearly a big missing feature of my new map. I’ve always argued that it is something that seriously complicates the current map. There must be a better way. I’ve thought of a couple of options I’m exploring, but would love to hear of any thoughts anyone want to contribute.

  • Either a new pair of icons that can be coloured for each line they relate to
  • Or something more physical. For example it would be great if each tube map could have a push button on the wall that would light up the tube stations that have disability access


Some complications and areas for discussion

  • The Euston / Kings Cross crossover of the Northern and Victoria lines was seriously tricky. It almost seems geographically impossible, so still not sure this actually works yet
  • North East London is still a little complicated. With a little more time I'm convinced there's a better way to space out the area around Stratford


I'm not posing this as a perfect alternative to the current official tube map, but as an alternative, hopefully simpler version for discussion. Therefore, I'd love to hear your comments. Get in touch on Twitter (@richcousins) or comment below.