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Transport / Mass transit

London's trams are finally joining the tube map

Yesterday, Geoff Marshall from Londonist wrote this article, outlining what he’d learned from his “exclusive first peak” at the new tube map, which will be officially released over the next few days.

That’s great for Geoff. Really great. “An exclusive”! Well done, Geoff. Well done.

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Anyway, the reason Geoff (lucky Geoff) got this exclusive (not bitter) is because he went to meet Transport for London’s head designer Jon Hunter to talk about the process of changing the new tube map.

There’s a video of the interview on Londonist here, which is well worth watching, not least because it features a discussion of how many colours the map could conceivably contain, and TfL changing the central line to green for a giggle.

But how, you want to know, has the map changed?

The big difference is that South London’s Tram network, which stretch from Wimbledon in the west to Beckenham Junction and New Addington in the east, has been included on the map for the first time. Here’s the central section, around London’s answer to Barcelona, Croydon:

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The tram networks has been running since 2000, when it opened under the name Croydon Tramlink. The network was swallowed up by TfL in 2008, and hasn’t grown significantly since.

Hunter says the trams have been added to the map now because they’ve just been added to the real time information system at stations (“rainbow boards”). But why TfL never featured them before is a bit of a mystery.

The other significant change is that the Gospel Oak to Barking bit of the London Overground is going to be electrified. This will be good once it’s done, but bad in the mean time because it means the thing is shutting in stages.

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You can see the whole thing here.

Geoff (oh, lucky, lucky Geoff) notes that only 238 of the 440 stations now shown on the map are actually tube stations. “Is it time to re-name the tube map to reflect what it really is — the TfL services map?” he asks.

I’d agree (have done at some length, in fact; he’s nicking my ideas; bloody Geoff). The tube map is no longer comprehensive in its coverage; nor does the presence of a line upon it guarantee any particular level of service quality. “The TfL services map” would be a far more honest description.

More than that, though – the new tube map implies that the best way from Beckenham to Victoria is via Croydon and Whitechapel, rather than, say, the direct and speedy train. It’s not entirely clea the map is fit for purpose any more.


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

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