Robert Hampton

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17th September 2009

New Tube
Posted by at 8.06pm | 4 responses | Trains

Londoners are up in arms about the new Tube map which has been redrawn to make it “less cluttered”. On that count it succeeds completely, largely thanks to tidying up the East London Line and getting rid of the little red dagger symbols that were sprinkled everywhere. Here’s a sample of before and after for you:-

Old Tube map

New Tube Map

The big change that has upset everyone is that the River Thames has disappeared. If it were a geographically accurate map this would be important, but it isn’t. As BBC blogger Mark Easton points out, the Tube map is designed for people who already know which station they’re going to and just need a simple diagram to know which lines to use. You don’t need to know where the river is for that.

So I think the new map is a huge improvement. It’s certainly better than the now permanently broken Merseyrail map, which after recent revisions has achieved the near impossible and made a simple network appear complicated.

Enjoy the new Tube map while you can, because Boris, with his keen eye for a bandwagon, has ordered the changes reversed.

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4 Responses
  1. Comment by Scott
    17th September 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Ah, now this is where you and I will part ways. The tidying up is good; I wish they’d gone the whole hog and got rid of the disabled symbols as well (not because I hate the disabled, but because it makes the map look untidy and is misleading). And I concur that geographical information is unimportant on a diagram, which is what the Tube map is. But the river has been there for 70 years, and is part of the story of the Tube map. Beck designed it, and he stripped out roads, parks, tourist attractions, landmarks, kinks in the rails – all these things, but he left the river in, because the river isn’t just physical, it’s mental. Put a different way: the Merseyrail map without the Mersey would achieve the same diagrammatic simplicity, but it would lose the grounding that the physical barrier provides. There is a mental division between North and South London, thanks to the river, just as there is a mental division between Liverpool and the Wirral. It just feels right to have the river there.

  2. Comment by Robert
    17th September 2009 at 10:58 pm

    I can’t believe you’re disagreeing with me… and after I linked to you as well!

  3. Comment by Scott
    18th September 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Know this: cross me on the Underground diagram at your peril!

  4. Comment by Ian Jones
    18th September 2009 at 4:13 pm

    I have to agree with Scott. I was pretty pissed off when I discovered the latest version of the map. It smacks of change for the sake of it. None of the tinkering has been done for constructive reasons, as far as I can see; for every alteration, a new problem has been created, or ambiguity has been introduced were previously there had been clarity. Plus new confusion has been added. Edgware Road looks like it’s one station instead of what it really is (two buildings separated by a giant ring road); it looks like the Piccadilly Line divides before Acton Town implying you need to change trains at Hammersmith; it seems you can now get services that run right round the Woodford loop on the Central Line – and so on. As for the non-appearance of the Thames, I’ve lived in London for a few years and have been round the entire Underground, but still wouldn’t know which stations on the Docklands Light Railway or District Line were closest to the river without double-checking on the map. Except now I can’t – not until Christmas, anyway. A bad call by TfL.