diamond geezer

 Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's not every month TfL give us two new tube maps.
(well, there was June 2016, when they had to reprint a second version of the new map without that Morden error... but that wasn't deliberate)

First off there's a new Tube map, the ordinary one, the one that shows normal daytime services.



Very little has changed since last time, or at least not yet. This may be a December 2016 tube map, but most of the significant changes are things that won't be happening until the New Year.
Category 1: line closures
» TfL Rail: Brentwood → Shenfield (no service from early January 2017 until late May 2017)
The closure's actually from 3rd January, but the tube map is rarely time-specific. The dotted blue line on the map is also really hard to spot because it's only 2mm long. Meanwhile the London Overground remains closed between Gospel Oak and Barking 'until February 2017', when presumably a new tube map will be required. The interchange connections at Walthamstow Queens Road and Wanstead Park have been reinstated in readiness.
Category 2: station closures
» Custom House for ExCel (station closed from January until late December 2017)
» Lambeth North (station closed until February 2017)
» Lancaster Gate (station closed from Tuesday 3 January until August 2017)
That's a greater number of crossed-out closed stations than you normally see on a tube map. Last time round it was only Holland Park (and should probably also have been Lambeth North, which has been closed since mid-July). Meanwhile Lancaster Gate is closing for lift reasons, and Custom House because of Crossrail, but not for another couple of weeks.
Category 3: step-free access
» Tower Hill (now step-free)
» Vauxhall (finally step-free)
» Kings Cross (Metropolitan/Circle/H&C) (no longer step-free)
» Edgware (restricted step-free access from January 2017 until March 2017)
» Highams Park (no step-free access to northbound platform until March 2017)
» Hounslow West (step-free for manual wheelchairs only)
Tower Hill is the big accessibility success story here, the very first station on the District line with step-free access from street to train. Is that before or after the last old D Stock trains are retired, I wonder? King's Cross's loss is temporary and thanks to lift replacement work due to be completed in early February, not that the map mentions this. Meanwhile Hounslow West always used to have a dagger up until last January when it disappeared, and now someone's decided it's important enough to put it back.

I'm indebted to the good folk at District Dave's Forum for cataloguing these changes, by the way, I won't claim to have spotted them all myself. Well done to them too for spotting that the tube map's now being printed on thinner paper than ever before. If you get yourself a copy of the new and the old and hold one in each hand it really is quite obvious. Still, that's a bit more money saved, eh?
In other changes...
• The front cover design is a pleasingly moquette-ish design called Metropolitan Diamonds by Gillian Carnegie.
• The station index is crammed onto two folded sides (compared to three years ago when fewer stations were spread across nearly three)
• The 'advert' on the back cover is an exhortation to use Pay As You Go instead of buying a One Day Travelcard (target audience: tourists, who need to cease this paper ticket nonsense)
• The 'tram' bit of the map is now labelled 'London Trams fare zone' rather than 'Special fares apply'.
And finally, six stations on the map have a red dagger. This is a year-old space-saving innovation which means "we can't be bothered to tell you what the service variations are at these stations, go look it up online". Official advice is to search 'TfL stations' for full details, a miserably half-arsed method of information gathering which vastly over-exaggerates the general public's ability to find, interrogate and navigate the TfL website. To save you looking, here's what the current set of red daggers represent.
» Turnham Green: Not served by Piccadilly line trains between 7am and 10.30pm (or 8am and 10.30pm on Sunday).
» Camden Town: Exit-only on Sundays between 1pm and 5.30pm. It's not ideal, but we're working on it...
» London Fields /Cambridge Heath: Not served by London Overground trains to/from Chingford. We could show this on the map by splitting the lines, but it's so squished now there isn't room.
» West India Quay: Not served by DLR trains from Bank towards Lewisham at certain times (by which we mean none of the time).
» Emerson Park: No trains after 10pm weekdays (and 8pm on Sunday).
The second map is the full-service launch of the Night Tube map.



It's really hard to find. I had to hunt around at least 20 stations before I finally found one, or more accurately two, because that's all the copies there were, and I haven't seen them anywhere else. Perhaps they haven't printed many. Perhaps they only put them out on Friday and Saturday evenings. Perhaps they've been really popular with the night-time crowd. Whatever, they're like gold dust, and trying to get hold of one is remarkably difficult.

The first key thing about the Night Tube map is that it has a dark blue background. This makes it bloody hard to read. It looks fine as a big poster on station platforms, and it looks OK on the pdf on the TfL website. But shrink it down to 20cm × 14cm, then let the ink bleed very slightly, and the white-on-blue text is unexpectedly difficult to distinguish. The designers have insisted on using the same tiny font as the normal tube map, even though there's plenty of room on this uncluttered version for something a couple of points larger, and the end result is unnecessarily squinty.

The second key thing about the Night Tube map is that it only has five lines. Annoyingly, it's as if those four of those five lines have been chosen according to how little contrast they have against a blue background. The Central line screams out because it's red, but the others are grey, light blue, dark blue and black. It's a toss up between the Northern and the Piccadilly - the latest two to open - which is the hardest colour to distinguish. The contrast works a little better on the poster and the pdf, where a thin white border separates the darker tones. But the inks haven't quite aligned on my printed version, and the white stripes were really narrow anyway, so the lines appear unhelpfully camouflaged.

To make things even trickier, the Night Tube map uses the same step-free symbols as the normal tube map. The most common of these is a blue blob with a wheelchair in, which as you can imagine fades into the blue background particularly well. The white blob stands out better, but there are only half as many of these. The brightest object on the map is the plain old interchange symbol, so these stand out best of all. The only other symbols used are a dagger and an aeroplane, both coincidentally similar shaped, as you can almost see if you try peering repeatedly at Heathrow and Hounslow West.

On the bright side, which is the other side of the piece of paper, the index has fewer stations than the normal tube map so they've used a larger font. It's better spaced, and much more readable, which is great. Then there's the design on the front cover, which is by Samara Scott, and it's lovely. At first glance it looks like some alien landscape, or maybe a close up of bacteria, but is in fact a collage of edible and cosmetic products. The Art on the Underground website describes it thus...
"Created directly from the surface of a domestic scanner, Scott has assembled the objects in an intuitive investigative manner. A glowing bike light shines onto a suspended Ikea bag to create a sweeping purple background, cables wind across the scanner’s surface and felt tip pens balance precariously amidst the scanner’s gathered dust and detritus to invoke a sense of depth, movement and travel that hints at the Underground at night."
Good luck finding a copy, and even better luck trying to read it.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream