This amateur London Tube map someone posted on Wikipedia is far better than the real thing

Well, this is much better. Image: SameBoat/Wikimedia Commons.

Over the last couple of weeks we have spent extensive time whinging about quite how bad the new version of London's tube map is. (Yes, we're obsessed, but let's not pretend, dear reader, that you are otherwise.) It's cramped, it’s unclear, and it just isn't very pretty.

Well. Over the weekend it came to our attention that someone else out there felt similarly. But they, unlike us, had decided to actually do something about it. 

This anonymous hero, a Hong Kong resident who goes by the name of "SameBoat", has been posting their own re-jigged tube map to Wikipedia since last August. Unlike Transport for London's version, this one basically abandons the 80-year old template we're all so familiar with and starts again. It retains the map's straight lines and 45 angles where appropriate; but isn't afraid to abandon them where necessary.

You can see the full version, at the correct scale, here. But to give you a flavour, here's central London on the official map:

 

And here’s SameBoat’s new version:

 

Here are some other things we like about the map:

It actually bothers to show different Overground lines in different colours

One of our biggest complaints about the new Tube map is that it shows TfL's increasingly cumbersome Overground empire in a single shade of orange, thus making it hard to tell which line you're looking at at any one time.

SameBoat's version corrects that, showing new fewer than seven different Overground routes:

We're not convinced by the names. (The old East London line is now the South Chord? Really?) But at least this version has names – and more importantly, colours, to make it clearer where there are direct trains on offer.

It shows out of station interchanges

There are a pairs of stations that are close enough to each other to make useful interchanges, and where the ticketing system will allow you to change trains – yet which the official map has kept secret. This new map makes those changes visible:

Some of these are more useful than others. It's not hard to think of journeys that could make use of the short hop from Camden Town to Camden Road, for example; whereas the long walk from Ickenham to West Ruislip is far less likely to come in handy. Ideally the map would communicate the length of the walk required, too.

But, you can’t have everything, and since those are official interchanges, it seems better to show them than not.

It shows the correct geographical relationship between the two Bethnal Green stations

No more pretending that Bethnal Green Overground is north of Bethnal Green Underground, which was always lunacy.

Now, if we could just get TfL to rename one of them.

It shows all the new lines and extensions currently in progress

That includes the new Watford branch on the Metropolitan...

...the new Battersea branch on the Northern...

...the Overground extension to Barking Riverside...

...and of course, Crossrail.

That means that, unlike TfL's designers, the people behind this map are unlikely to be wrong-footed by the arrival of a new line that's only been planned for the past 30 years.

It doesn't show that sodding cable car

Nuff said.


There are inevitably aspects of this map we're less keen on too. It’s simplified the design in part by abandoning attempts to show wheelchair accessibility, which – were it to happen on the real map – would be seen as a backward step. And in places this new map sends outer branches through weird 90 degree turns – so the Central line heads east from Loughton to Epping, that sort of thing. It's a clever way of keeping the map compact, but still looks weird to our eyes. 

The fact that the Chingford line trains don't serve London Fields or Cambridge Heath is shown, but doesn't make much sense if you're not already aware of this fact. Similarly, while it's great to see Tramlink on a tube map at last, it's a bit of a shame it doesn't have any stations on. But that said, there are numerous versions of this map available on Wikipedia, suggesting that it's a work in progress. Perhaps these things will be fixed in a future version.

On the whole, sacrilege though it may be to say it, we much prefer this version of the Tube map to the proper one. SameBoat, if you're reading this: we salute you.

PS We've just noticed that, on the proper version of this map, you can click on a line in the key and it'll flash cheerfully at you from the map. So that's pretty cool, too.

PPS This is a representation of the interchanges that'll be available at Canary Wharf once the new Crossrail station opens. We think it's accurate. It's also bloody horrible.

Can someone please do some renaming or something to sort this mess out? Okay thanks bye.

All images courtesy of SameBoat, under Wikimedia Commons.

 
 
 
 

15 other things ministers could move to London to boost the Northern Powerhouse

The Angel of the North. Wouldn't it look better in, say, Camden? Image: Getty.

Yesterday brought confirmation that the government had come up with a clever way of boosting its flagship “Northern Powerhouse” policy: move over 200 government jobs to London.

From the Mirror:

The Tories sneaked out a plan to move 228 jobs in the Northern Powerhouse department from Sheffield to London today, on the last day before Parliament breaks for recess.

And the department today suggested staff who want to keep their jobs could commute the two-hour each way journey from the North to the capital.

(...)

The plan, described as “madness” by Nick Clegg, will see the Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) Sheffield office shuttered in 2018.

This is not the first time large chunks of public investment has quietly been shifted from the north to London, even as ministers repeat the words “Northern Powerhouse” in a convincing tone of voice. Remember the decision to move the National Photography Collection from Bradford to London?

It’s easy to sneer. But actually, there are some very clever and compelling arguments for gradually moving every job in Britain into the area enclosed by the M25. Larger cities, after all, are more productive. It stands to reason, then, that a country in which all economic activity took place in a single, high-rise postcode would be far richer, happier, and, well, better than the one we’ve got at the moment. 

That probably isn’t realistic. What might be, however, is gradually shifting all the north’s myriad attractions to new locations in the Home Counties. For that reason, CityMetric understands that ministers are considering relocating a number of other key economic assets to the south of England. 

The Yorkshire Dales – As things stand, England’s “landscape capital” has been disproportionately concentrated in the north. To rectify this, Her Majesty’s Government will explore plans to redistribute the Dales to southern Essex.

Alnwick Castle – Following the very successful experiment in which we moved Leeds Castle to Kent, we’ve found a very promising site for Alnwick just outside Hove.

Betty’s of Harrogate – We believe this charming tea room would do far better business somewhere in the vicinity of Park Lane. 

The Angel of the North – The iconic Antony Gormley statue is currently going to waste on a slight incline next to the A1, on the outskirts of an obscure place called Gateshead. It would attract far more visitors if we placed it instead on, say, Primrose Hill. The best thing about this plan is that we wouldn’t even have to rename it.


The Cavern – To improve Liverpool’s tourism figures, we will be consolidating its main attractions into the new “Abbey Road Experience”.

The rest of Harrogate – Bit confused they didn’t put it in Oxfordshire in the first place, actually.

Salford Quays – Moving chunks of BBC Production to Greater Manchester has been very successful. Her Majesty’s Government is keen to build on this success: we the best way of doing so would be to consolidate operations and seek efficiencies by re-locating the whole of Salford Quays to London. An ideal site has been located in the White City area.

Tate Liverpool – The present site is far too inconvenient. A new site, closer to the Tate Britain, would be ideal.

The University of Durham – It’s in a picturesque medieval town, it’s broken into colleges, it has a boat race... The perm sec was a bit surprised to find it wasn’t in the Home Counties already, if we’re honest.

While we’re at it:

The University of York – See above.

Coronation Street – The problem with this show is that it’s set in Manchester. It’s just so bloody dreary, isn’t it? All that rain; all those cobbles. They should set it in London. Make something more cheerful, like Eastenders.

Hadrian's Wall, in its original location. Image: Hulton Archive/Getty.

Hadrian’s Wall – The wall was constructed during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian to protect proper Britain from the savage Scots. Today, though, there are no fewer than 54 Scottish Nationalists in the House of Commons. This suggests that, if we’re going to bother with such defensive measures, we’re going to need them a damn sight closer to the capital than they are at the moment. 

The Settle to Carlisle line – I mean, it’s a lovely route, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’d almost certainly get more passengers if it ran from, say, Euston to Milton Keynes.

Pies – Treasury cost/benefit analysis suggests that large quantities of carbs and gravy would be used more efficiently in the south. 

Northerners – We considered moving the jobs to the people, but decided this way round would work better. Great for house prices, too!

Please note that Her Majesty’s Government has abandoned plans to incentivise Manchester United to move south. But we are hoping to tempt Leicester City to a new home in Surrey.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.

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