Tube Week ExtraUpdated tube map Typical. I run a whole blogweek all about the tube, including lots about the tube map and how it needs updating, and then over the weekend TfL only go and update it. It's one of the biggest updates for years, and incorporates the newly rebranded London Overground lines into Harry Beck's once-elegant design. It's all getting terribly overcrowded. Someone somewhere must have decided that the map has to contain as much information as possible, and with every update there are more symbols, more blobs, more angles and more text. Much more inclusive, but far less accessible. For the time being* you can compare the old (jpg) and the new (pdf) on the TfL website. See if you can spot the difference.
*2pm update: Aha, TfL appear to have removed the new map and have stuck the old one back again. Sorry to all my afternoon and evening readers. Still, enjoy the clear clean lines of the old map while you still can!
Here's what I've spotted... The London Overground: Wham, a big tangerine octopus has suddenly grabbed hold of the old tube network. The North London line may have been on the tube map for years, but now it's bright orange and unmissable. The Gospel Oak to Barking line appears for the first time, although with no indication of how infrequent the service is. The Watford to Euston line reappears (the north end's been on and off the map several times over the years) while the West London line is brand new (ending south of the river at a rather forlorn looking Clapham Junction). All four lines have been inelegantly embedded onto the map with rather too many bends and several over-long stretches. All in all, not lovely. Four brand new stations: They're opening "soon" and they're new on the map. They're Wood Lane (on the Hammersmith & City line, "station under construction"), Heathrow Terminal 5 (on the Piccadilly line, "under construction"), Shepherd's Bush ("London Overground station under construction") and Langdon Park (DLR, "opening November 2007"). 19 other stations that weren't there before: All of them are Overground stations, including such backwater dumps as Leytonstone High Road, Kilburn High Road and Hatch End. 10 new step-free stations: Don't get excited, they're all on the Overground and they were all step-free before. Three new airport connections: Maybe TfL were listening to our conversation last week. Harrow and Wealdstone now has a red airport symbol , as do new arrivals Watford Junction and Clapham Junction. Two big orange boxes: one warning of special fares north of Hatch End, the other announcing the demise of the East London line in December. The longest station name just got longer: Kings Cross St Pancras is now "Kings Cross St Pancras for St Pancras International". You know, just in case you couldn't work that out for yourself. Lots of superfluous extra text relating to British Rail connections: It doesnt say Moorgate any more, it says "Moorgate no weekend service". Same thing at Old Street and Highbury & Islington. Like anybody cares. It's even wordier at Sudbury Hill on the Piccadilly line, which now reads "Sudbury Hill Sudbury Hill Harrow (no weekend service) 150m". Whatever happened to clarity? Lots more squashed-up station names: The northern end of the Bakerloo line is a lot more tightly packed. Acton Central almost crashes into the H&C line nextdoor. Turnpike Lane's been bumped nearer to Wood Green. Which of those three neighbouring stations is Blackhorse Road? And whose idea was it to shoehorn the London Overground lines onto a map where they don't really fit?
Pray that your eyesight never gets worse, because future tube maps can only be uglier, more cramped and even less legible. Someone needs to try to convince TfL that increasing inclusivity doesn't always help Londoners get around.