Look! A new version of the London Tube & Rail map! This story isn’t about Brexit!

Mmmmm curvy. Image: Luke Carvill.

It’s bad, the world, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t want to overstate this, but on this specific day, at this particular point in history, the world is completely bloody awful.

So here’s a new take on the tube map to talk about. Tube map redesigns are my happy place, and don’t you judge me because by clicking this article you’ve implicitly admitted that they’re yours, too.

This one, actually of the London Tube & Rail Map, comes from Luke Carvill, who, like many a graphic designer before him, is using it to show off his skills.

Click to expand.

Here’s what he says about it:

“I think Harry Beck’s London tube map is one of the greatest pieces of graphic design in history, but he had no idea how large the network would become. I feel the current map is somewhat cluttered and intimidating to those unfamiliar with it. My redesign focused on simplicity, balance, and beauty.

“The map is mostly used by tourists, who start and/or end most of their journeys in Zones 1 and 2, in order to make the busiest part of the network easier to spot and read, I gave Central London a wide amount of space and framed in an Overground loop.”

Those are indeed the most obvious aspects of his redesign. I’m not entirely sold on the vastly bigger central London, whose acres of white space between lines ends up making the suburbs look cramped in places (the route to Gatwick Airport, included because it takes Oyster cards, ends up bending awkwardly round as if it heads west, not south).

Click to expand.

But turning the London Overground routes via Clapham and Highbury & Islington into a loop around central London is very pleasing indeed. And replacing the ugly grey shading to represent fare zones with tiny numbers is such an elegant solution that it remains a mystery why TfL has never done it.

Another minor detail of which I’m a big fan is the effort to map goes to show that Blackfriars station has an entrance on the South Bank:

Click to expand.

Carvill follows designers past in using bold, solid colours to represent the tube, and lighter, hollow lines in pastel shades to show National Rail. This is meant to “draw the attention of the eye towards the busier services”, and mostly works, although inevitably there are exceptions (far more mainline services at Wimbledon, say, then there are tube ones at Roding Valley). The map also uses slightly different colours for different Overground or tram services, to make it clear whether direct services do or don’t exist.

It’s not perfect. Like pretty much every other designer ever, he’s struggled to come up with a way of showing the way certain Elizabeth line stations will connect to multiple tube ones, which seems to bolster my case for renaming those stations. And the Bank/Monument interchange is something of a mess. But on balance, I’m a fan.

There. Wasn’t that more fun than reading about Brexit for a while? You can find more tube mappy goodness here.

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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As EU funding is lost, “levelling up” needs investment, not just rhetoric

Oh, well. Image: Getty.

Regional inequality was the foundation of Boris Johnson’s election victory and has since become one of the main focuses of his government. However, the enthusiasm of ministers championing the “levelling up” agenda rings hollow when compared with their inertia in preparing a UK replacement for European structural funding. 

Local government, already bearing the brunt of severe funding cuts, relies on European funding to support projects that boost growth in struggling local economies and help people build skills and find secure work. Now that the UK has withdrawn its EU membership, councils’ concerns over how EU funds will be replaced from 2021 are becoming more pronounced.

Johnson’s government has committed to create a domestic structural funding programme, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), to replace the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF). However, other than pledging that UKSPF will “reduce inequalities between communities”, it has offered few details on how funds will be allocated. A public consultation on UKSPF promised by May’s government in 2018 has yet to materialise.

The government’s continued silence on UKSPF is generating a growing sense of unease among councils, especially after the failure of successive governments to prioritise investment in regional development. Indeed, inequalities within the UK have been allowed to grow so much that the UK’s poorest region by EU standards (West Wales & the Valleys) has a GDP of 68 per cent of the average EU GDP, while the UK’s richest region (Inner London) has a GDP of 614 per cent of the EU average – an intra-national disparity that is unique in Europe. If the UK had remained a member of the EU, its number of ‘less developed’ regions in need of most structural funding support would have increased from two to five in 2021-27: South Yorkshire, Tees Valley & Durham and Lincolnshire joining Cornwall & Isles of Scilly and West Wales & the Valley. Ministers have not given guarantees that any region, whether ‘less developed’ or otherwise, will obtain the same amount of funding under UKSPF to which they would have been entitled under ESIF.


The government is reportedly contemplating changing the Treasury’s fiscal rules so public spending favours programmes that reduce regional inequalities as well as provide value for money, but this alone will not rebalance the economy. A shared prosperity fund like UKSPF has the potential to be the master key that unlocks inclusive growth throughout the country, particularly if it involves less bureaucracy than ESIF and aligns funding more effectively with the priorities of local people. 

In NLGN’s Community Commissioning report, we recommended that this funding should be devolved to communities directly to decide local priorities for the investment. By enabling community ownership of design and administration, the UK government would create an innovative domestic structural funding scheme that promotes inclusion in its process as well as its outcomes.

NLGN’s latest report, Cultivating Local Inclusive Growth: In Practice, highlights the range of policy levers and resources that councils can use to promote inclusive growth in their area. It demonstrates that, through collaboration with communities and cross-sector partners, councils are already doing sterling work to enhance economic and social inclusion. Their efforts could be further enhanced with a fund that learns lessons from ESIF’s successes and flaws: a UKSPF that is easier to access, designed and delivered by local communities, properly funded, and specifically targeted at promoting social and economic inclusion in regions that need it most. “Getting Brexit done” was meant to free up the government’s time to focus once more on pressing domestic priorities. “Getting inclusive growth done” should be at the top of any new to-do list.

Charlotte Morgan is senior researcher at the New Local Government Network.