This map gives you all the tube knowledge you never knew you wanted

You could honestly waste hours looking at this map. I'd know, I have done. Image: Franklin Jarrier

You love the tube map, but sometimes it frustrates you, right?

Sure, it’s a useful navigator. But it doesn’t tell you where the stations are. And it doesn’t tell you how far away one set of platforms is from another.

It most certainly doesn’t tell you how the tracks curve between one station and another, and gives no indication whatsoever of other highly useful things – like where the sidings are, and where your local depot’s at.

Cry no more.

Because there is another map that shows London's underground, overground, DLR, tramlink, and national rail lines  tracks, stations, platforms, sidings and depots – in all their glory. 

Thanks to the work of Franklin Jarrier, whose website is an impressive collection of transport knowledge. The full map is available here  but seeing as you're reading this already we might as well share some of its best features with you. 

It colours lines according to which services they run, and shows platform positions and numbers within stations. 

Click any of these to expand. All images: Franklin Jarrier.

Like here, at Richmond. 

And just next to North Sheen you can also see that it shows where level crossings are. Neat, huh? 

It also seems to hint at some state secrets, or something. I see the words 'military depot' and it makes me feel excited (and, well, scared). 

At various places it can offer some useful guidance for station navigation. Especially with the bigguns: 

King's Cross St Pancras. A huge muddle, made less muddling. 

Or Baker Street, the station with the most underground platforms. 

It also shows some fun bits of track, like the Kennington loop on the Northern line. 

And the old branch of the Jubilee line to Charing Cross, which dates from before the extension to Stratford: 

And as you may have noticed, it tells you how old every bit of track is, which is very phenomenally cool. And also shows all the closed stations, platforms, and stations that never opened at all. Which is good

Depots! Everyone loves depots. 

Neasden depot is absolutely massive. 

You can see where the Victoria line emerges from the tunnel to head to the Northumberland Park depot – the only above-ground section of the line. 

Eurostar's engineering centre. Cool, right? 

So agonisingly close to connecting the Northern line with the Wimbledon-Sutton railway. Tease. 

And that's pretty much it, though the map also helps you make sense of some of the really messy parts of the network. Like Willesden Junction and Old Oak Common:

Or Stratford:

And here's the really cool bendy bit of the Central line that goes around the Bank of England, meaning one curvy platform with a lot minding the gap needing doing. 

So yeah. Good map, right? Hours of fun. 

Go forth, find fun little tidbits, and tweet them at us. If you must. 

Jack May is a regular contributor to CityMetric and tweets as @JackO_May.

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The mountain in North Wales that tried to stop the UK’s blackout

Elidir Fawr, the mountain in question. Image: Jem Collins.

Last Friday, the UK’s National Grid turned to mush. Not the official term perhaps, but an accurate one after nearly one million people were left without power across the country, with hundreds more stranded at train stations – or even on trains (which isn’t nearly as fun as it might immediately sound). 

Traffic lights stopped working, back-up power failed in hospitals, and business secretary Andrea Leadsom launched an investigation into exactly what happened. So far though, the long and short of it is that a gas-fired power station in Bedfordshire failed just before 5 o’clock, followed just two minutes later by Hornsea offshore wind farm. 

However, amid the resulting chaos and inevitable search to find someone to blame for the outage, a set of mountains (yes, mountains) in North Wales were working extremely hard to keep the lights on.

From the outside, Elidir Fawr, doesn’t scream power generation. Sitting across from the slightly better known Mount Snowdon, it actually seems quite passive. After all, it is a mountain, and the last slate quarry in the area closed in 1969.

At a push, you’d probably guess the buildings at the base of the mountain were something to do with the area’s industrial past, mostly thanks to the blasting scars on its side, as I did when I first walked past last Saturday. 

But, buried deep into Elidir Fawr is the ability to generate an astounding 1,728 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 2.5 million homes, more than the entire population of the Liverpool region. And the plant is capable of running for five hours.

Dubbed by locals at the ‘Electric Mountain’, Dinorwig Power Station, is made up of 16km of underground tunnels (complete with their own traffic light system), in an excavation which could easily house St Paul’s Cathedral.

Instead, it’s home to six reversible pumps/turbines which are capable of reaching full capacity in just 16 seconds. Which is probably best, as Londoners would miss the view.

‘A Back-Up Facility for The National Grid’

And, just as it often is, the Electric Mountain was called into action on Friday. A spokesperson for First Hydro Company, which owns the generators at Dinorwig, and the slightly smaller Ffestiniog, both in Snowdonia, confirmed that last Friday they’d been asked to start generating by the National Grid.

But just how does a mountain help to ease the effects of a blackout? Or as it’s more regularly used, when there’s a surge in demand for electricity – most commonly when we all pop the kettle on at half-time during the World Cup, scientifically known as TV pick-up.

The answer lies in the lakes at both the top and bottom of Elidir Fawr. Marchlyn Mawr, at the top of the mountain, houses an incredible 7 million tonnes of water, which can be fed down through the mountain to the lake at the bottom, Llyn Peris, generating electricity as it goes.


“Pumped storage technology enables dynamic response electricity production – ofering a critical back-up facility during periods of mismatched supply and demand on the national grid system,” First Hydro Company explains.

The tech works essentially the same way as conventional hydro power – or if you want to be retro, a spruced up waterwheel. When the plant releases water from the upper reservoir, as well as having gravity on their side (the lakes are half a kilometre apart vertically) the water shafts become smaller and smaller, further ramping up the pressure. 

This, in turn, spins the turbines which are linked to the generators, with valves regulating the water flow. Unlike traditional UK power stations, which can take hours to get to full capacity, at Dinorwig it’s a matter of 16 seconds from a cold start, or as little as five if the plant is on standby.

And, designed with the UK’s 50hz frequency in mind, the generator is also built to shut off quickly and avoid overloading the network. Despite the immense water pressure, the valves are able to close off the supply within just 20 seconds. 

At night, the same thing simply happens in reverse, as low-cost, surplus energy from the grid is used to pump the water back up to where it came from, ready for another day of hectic TV scheduling. Or blackouts, take your pick.

Completed in 1984, the power station was the product of a decade of work, and the largest civil engineering project commissioned at the time – and it remains one of Europe’s largest manmade caverns. Not that you’d know it from the outside. And really, if we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that looks can be deceiving, and that mountains can actually be really damn good at making electricity. 

Jem Collins is a digital journalist and editor whose work focuses on human rights, rural stories and careers. She’s the founder and editor of Journo Resources, and you can also find her tweeting @Jem_Collins.