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May 18, 2016updated 28 Jul 2021 3:25pm

This new map shows how the Elizabeth Line will look on the tube map. It's rubbish

By Jonn Elledge

You know, it’s been ages since we ran a story about London’s tube map. So long, in fact, that we’ve begun to get letters (“Are you okay?” and so forth).

Luckily, though, as with the Hammersmith & City line, just as you’re giving up hope, another one finally pulls into view. This one shows how the line we used to know as Crossrail – but will in future know, nauseatingly, as the Elizabeth line – will look on the tube map.

Well, sort of. In fact, it’s so keen to show how the new line will look on the map that it seems rather less bothered about showing, well, the map. All the other lines – tube, DLR, Overground – are shown in shades of grey.

Click to expand.

What you can see, though, is that TfL is planning to show the new line in its entirety. Earlier versions had suggested that the western arm – which will terminate in Reading some 25 miles outside Greater London – might get truncated. It won’t, but fitting it all on will require an entirely un-geographical downward turn.

It’s not, if we’re honest, the prettiest of maps, even if you ignore the greyscale problem and imagine it in glorious technicolour. The fact that line goes through two right-angles between Whitechapel and Canary Wharf isn’t great. Nor are the five kinks in the line’s central section between Ealing Broadway and the East End. The whole thing feels a little tortured.

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Some of the station blobs are getting misleading, too. At Liverpool Street and Farringdon this results from the fact the new Crossrail Elizabeth Line stations will connect with two existing tube stations each (the extras are Moorgate and Barbican respectively). Those could be fixed by renaming the stations, as we’ve suggested before.

But others are more complicated. Paddington is a messy station, where one set of tube platforms (the ones to Hammersmith) are miles from the rest – but this map makes little effort to communicate this fact. Canary Wharf, meanwhile, will effectively have three entirely separate stations, connecting to three different DLR stations between them. It doesn’t bother explaining that either.

Oh, and Woolwich’s new station gets a British rail symbol, which implies you’ll be able to change to National Rail at Woolwich Arsenal. Except Woolwich Arsenal is already on this map and the new Woolwich station is nowhere near it. Baffling.

The Elizabeth line won’t open properly for another three years yet: it’s entirely possible this won’t be the final map. But that’s good because – as it stands – it’s rubbish.

 (Kudos to UCL’s Oliver O’Brien for managing to dig it out of the back of a dark corner of TfL’s website at all. You can see the original here.)

Anyway – enough grumpiness. This engineer from consultancy Arup tweeted a version of the map drawn by his six year old.


I mean, it seems to have forgotten to include large chunks of the Overground, while wrongly locating the East London Line on the Isle of Dogs. But all the same: adorable.

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

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