This map of London's tube shows disused stations, track layout and more

A close up of the map in question. Image: TfL.

It's a scary, scary world out there. Looming crisis in North Korea. Donald Trump gaining in the polls. David Cameron leaving us all alone.

So what you need, to gladden the heart and life the soul, is clearly a new tube map.

Actually, this one isn't really new: it's dated 2009, and emerged from a Freedom of Information request sent in 2013. But it's

  1. geographically accurate,
  2. fascinatingly detailed, and
  3. genuinely interesting and informative if you're a nerd, which – let's be honest – you are.

The FOI request asked for a "detailed track and signalling map of the Underground". What it uncovered is this:

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Which doesn't show signalling, but you can't have everything.

The map shows the only part of the Victoria line that's above ground, the Northumberland Park depot....

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...and that it's theoretically possible to divert Piccadilly line trains to Walthamstow:

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It shows that the branch to Chesham is single track:

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It shows that the Piccadilly and District lines share tracks between Acton Town and Ealing Common.

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Zoom into the central London section and you can see a whole range of features: disused tube stations like Down Street and City Road; the Kennington loop, which allows trains to reverse and head north again; the fact the Waterloo & City line passes quite close to Blackfriars, should anyone feel the need to build a station there...

Click to expand.

Then there’s this nightmare of Northern line tracks around Camden:

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No wonder they want to split the line.

I'm going to stop here because if I don't I'll keep banging on all day – but there are no doubt all sorts of other Easter Eggs on here for the discerning train nerd. Do tweet us your favourites.

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

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Does it matter that TfL are renaming White Hart Lane station Tottenham Hotspur?

New White Hart Lane. Image: Getty.

Pretend for a moment that you’re travelling in the London of 1932. You’re taking the Piccadilly Line northbound and alight at Gillespie Road station. The name should be obvious: it’s inscribed in bespoke brown tiling on the platform.

But that 31 October, following an intense campaign by the eponymous football club, the London County Council changed the station’s name to Arsenal (Highbury Hill). The area’s growing association with the name “Arsenal” ended in a lengthy negotiation that changed maps, signs and train tickets alike. Football had acquired so much power that it changed the name of not just a Tube station but an entire suburb, even before the era of Wenger or the Emirates.

Now the spectre of name changes is on the horizon once again. As Tottenham Hotspur FC inches closer to completing its new stadium, the club is clamouring for a renamed Overground station. Despite the fact the new stadium is located on almost exactly the same site as the old just off White Hart Lane, and fans have long been calling the scaffolding-laden mess “New White Hart Lane”, the club’s executive director is adamant that the station’s existing name cannot stand. White Hart Lane station, on the Overground line leaving Liverpool Street, is set to be renamed “Tottenham Hotspur”, at a cost to the club of £14.7m.

Little has been made of the fact that this peculiar PR kerfuffle is tied to Spurs’ failure to convince Nike to sponsor the venue. Some sources have even claimed that the sponsorship is yet to be finalised because it is somehow contingent on the renaming of the Overground station; beyond the ridiculous Johnson-era vanity project that was the Emirates Air Line, it seems improbable that TfL will allow any more corporate-flavoured information pollution. There will be no “Nike Stadium” station on the way to Enfield, much as there is no “Emirates” on the way to Cockfosters, especially if public consultation gets a look in.

The scene of the crime. Image: TfL.

But there’s a problem with the new name, all the same. “White Hart Lane” already means “football stadium”, in the same way Loftus Road or Stamford Bridge do. Changing it to “Tottenham Hotspur” risks opening the floodgates to an “O2 North Greenwich” or a “Virgin Euston” at some point in future, names as banal as there are dystopian. The Greater London Authority has promised to spend the £14.7m fee on community programmes in the local area – but that’s not much money to set the precedent that a private company can mess about with the Tube map.


What’s more, as CityMetric has often observed, there are plenty of station names across London that could do with a tidy up. Picking one that’s perfect already and asking for £14.7m to change it is adding insult to injury. How much would it cost a community group if they asked to change the name of Goodge Street to Fitzrovia? Why does a vast corporate entity backed by international sponsors and thousands of season ticket holders get to set the standard?

Back in Arsenal’s day, changing names on the Tube must have been easy; changes could be accommodated gradually without bothering the every day traveller. But in our world of online information, maps and apps, name changes are rather more complicated.

The question is – if TfL can bring itself to balefully accept this particular proposition, why can’t it accept ours? Why sort out a single non-issue on the Tube Map when you can catch lots of real ones in one go? A day’s pandemonium might just be a price worth paying to fix the Bethnal Greens problem once and for all.