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Is this the reworked London Underground map we've all been waiting for?


The ever-expanding nature of the London Underground may feel like it serves no purpose other than to regularly disrupt our commutes, but spare a thought for those in charge of the map and thus, the constant updating, altering and tweaking required to fit every new line, station and route.

The map from which the current design has evolved is still an impressive piece of work, having been created by Henry Beck, known as Harry, to replace the originals - train lines imposed over existing city maps. Harry came up with a design less geographically accurate, but easier to understand and, in a detail that will surely compound our sneaking suspicions that we're not utilising our time effectively, came up with it in his spare time no less. The map was so innovative that it was initially rejected in 1931, but after a trial run, introduced in 1933.

However, while his design was successful, some believe that it's too much of a struggle to make it work with the huge and complex transport system of today's capital, and that a complete overhaul is called for. Now, freelance illustrator and designer Mike Hall has come up with a tube map that he says "followed the design rules" of the original, but started with a clean slate and incorporates projected changes.

Mike has worked around what he saw as design flaws in the original, such as using a more flexible symbol for stations like Liverpool Street that house several lines. He's also split up the two branches of the Northern line into separate lines with their own colours, and done the same for the often-confusing offshoots of the Overground and the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan line.

tube map symbols
Alternate tube map

He's abandoned the names of the lines in favour of a simple numbered system for the Underground and an alphabetised one for the Overground, loosely based on when they were opened with the Circle line renamed the 1, given part of it was the very first line opened in 1863.

Plenty of symbols have been changed in an effort to simplify the system and present a less crowded design, with step-free access indicated by colour rather than a wheelchair symbol, and changing the typeface to Myriad Pro "for its clear appearance and legibility".

tube map overground

Interchange stations are under rounded rectangles rather than a series of hollow circles, with a short connection if the stations are physically separate but connected, like Bank and Monument. Other changes are much simpler but make a difference, such as allowing station names to overlap the River Thames (which they don't do on the current map) and renaming some stations entirely - for instance, changing Caledonian Road & Barnsbury to Barnsbury.

The full map can be viewed here.

Images: Mike Hall



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