diamond geezer

 Monday, December 01, 2014

A new tube map has been hitting the leaflet racks in stations over the weekend, ready for the start of December. You can always tell that a new tube map has been issued because social media briefly gets very excited by the design on the front cover. But much more important, I'd say, is the content within. So let's play...

Tube Map Spot The Difference

 Old map (May 2014)New map (December 2014)
CoverThe Hole of London 2014, by Rachel WhitereadFrom A Single One To Millions: Ink On Paper, by Daniel Buren
FoldedAccordion fold
(Breaking news: the old tube map was folded differently to the new tube map)
Letter fold
(The old tube map is the odd one out, the previous four were all letter-folded)
Back coverStation index: Abbey Road - Dagenham HeathwayBright blue advert for credit card company, promoting contactless cards
(the first full-page advert in five years)
Station index3 pages2 pages
(same tiny font, much more tightly packed)
(thanks, credit card company)
On the mapNo interchange: Bond Street
(but Bond Street is currently exit and interchange only, it doesn't go back to normal until mid-December, so the new map isn't yet true)
No Bakerloo & Northern line: Embankment
No Central line: Tottenham Court Road
(but Tottenham Court Road's Central line platforms aren't closing until 3rd January 2015, so for the next month the map is unhelpfully inaccurate)
New step-free stations Hampstead Heath
Queens Road Peckham
Step-free maintenanceKilburn: no step-free access until June 2014West Ham: no step-free access to District and Jubilee lines until late February 2015
DaggersCannon Street: limited opening hours and closed SundaysCannon Street: open full time from December 14th (during lengthy London Bridge redevelopment works) (so the map is incorrect this weekend)
Covent Garden: exit only until mid-November 2014Covent Garden: exit only from late February until early November 2015
Gloucester Road: Piccadilly line trains not stopping until mid-December(map shows incorrect information for the next couple of weeks)
 Victoria: Reduced interchange during station improvement works, change trains elsewhere
Bank and Waterloo listed separately in dagger listWaterloo & City line information listed only once
So why the new map? The Bond Street / Embankment / Tottenham Court Road thing
(and the advert, obviously)

In summary, the message is "use the tube map with caution this month, because several things aren't yet true".

And if you're a tube map connoisseur, grab as many copies of the new map as you can, because the next one's likely to be a shocker. A big change to London's rail services takes place in precisely six months time (or as near to 'precisely six months' as you can be when November only has 30 days). On Sunday 31st May 2015 oversight of several different rail services passes from the existing franchisee to TfL, and TfL will no doubt want to show off their new acquisitions on the tube map. Expect to see...

The West Anglia line from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town → Overground
The West Anglia line from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt → Overground
The West Anglia line from Liverpool Street to Chingford → Overground
The Greater Anglia branch line from Romford to Upminster → Overground
'Crossrail' from Liverpool Street to Shenfield [to be branded TfL Rail]

You'll notice that Liverpool Street appears a lot in this list, indeed all five transferred lines lie to the northeast of London. And this means that the top right-hand quadrant of the tube map could be getting an awful lot more crowded, and considerably harder to untangle, even bafflingly hard to follow. Maybe something like this.

It's not a done deal. There's no reason why TfL's tube map designers should make any or all of the changes in the way I've depicted, and there definitely won't be as many step-free blobs as I've shown because some of those are long-term aspirational. But you might at least be more than a little nervous about what lies ahead for Harry Beck's 'design classic' in six months time. And for goodness sake stop getting quite so excited about the art on the front cover, because the really important thing is always the quality of the new map within.

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