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Crossrail Kink

23rd May 2015

With the new kink in the Central line on the May 2015 TfL Map causing the most raised eyebrows, we couldn’t find anywhere online where Crossrail was also shown to represent why they’ve done it to enable them to fit it in in a few years time.

So here in (what we think will be the correct) Crossrail purple is how it will fit into the map, helped by the new Central line kink – it means it’s a ‘standard’ 45 degree angle in-between Bond Street and Paddington.

Kinky Crossrail

Kinky Crossrail

We’ve also continued to study the new May 2015 TfL Map (formerly the Tube Map) and noticed a couple of other small – but interesting things.

The horrid triangle of blobs that used to be the connector blobs at West Ham has been replaced – still with three blobs – but this time in a straight line, no longer forming a triangular shape, and we think it looks better. Up above that though, look how the Jubilee Line now bends to the right (it used to be straight – in fact it used to bend to the left many years ago) but to incorporate the new MTR TfL Rail / Crossrail line it now bends to the right.  The branch to Stratford International is now no longer a straight line.
















But back to the kink .. the Central line link, and how this has affected the central area. You can see here in the comparison that the depth of the Circle line has now increased to allow the kink and future Crossrail to be added in and look what it’s done to the District line at the point of the Aldgate triangle – it used to elegantly curve away at the junction before, now it hugs the Circle line round the bend for a bit, before peeling away to go up to Aldgate East, and we think this looks messier.












New Tube Map, in Depth

22nd May 2015

So after much speculation and build up, the new May 2015 Tube map is upon us with some rail services added as part of the Overground brand, plus ‘TfL Rail’ too.

Our immediate thought thought is that it’s not really a Tube map any more, is it?

That’s what people call it (and some people may still even refer to it as the Pocket Map or the Journey Planner). No – what it is now, more than ever, is clearly the ‘TfL Map‘ of services.  Also, if you take into account that that only Underground services can be considered proper ‘Tube’, it’s worth noting that on the new map there are 270 Tube stations, but with the DLR and Overground combined (now 112 Overground stations, and 45 DLR stations) there are 157 stations on the new ‘Tube map’  that aren’t purely Underground stations.

Limited services at some stations

Limited services at some stations

Aside from all the obvious and immediate observations (the new connector blobs, the sprawl of Orange, the fact that there’s now TWO Bethnal Green’s, and of course the new kink in the Central Line, in preparation for Crossrail) there are many more subtle things too.

One of the things about the Tube map (and Overground services) is that it’s always represented ‘turn up and go’ services – you don’t need timetables because trains are frequent enough, yet that isn’t the case any more.

Not all Overground services out of Liverpool Street will stop at Bethnal Green, Cambridge Heath and London fields.  If you want to go to one of those stations, you have to get the Cheshunt service – the Chingford and Enfield services don’t stop there, which is a bit of an instant fail of the map.

Emerson Park

Emerson Park

Then there’s the Emerson Park branch – one stop in-between Romford and Upminster, now also coloured Overground orange.  Except it has a limited service with no trains after 8pm on a weekday and none at all on a Sunday.

That sounds like a limited service to me – a bit like the District Line to Olympia which has a pecked line, but here it’s a standard cased Orange Overground line.   Ok, so sure – the Waterloo & City Line doesn’t run on Sundays but that gets a mention in the side bar, so why doesn’t the Emerson Park branch not also get a mention? It also has the distinction of being the least served part of the map (previously was the Woodford to Hainault part of the Central Line where trains are once every 20 minutes), with just two trains per hour – one every 30 minutes.

There’s still then the headache of why Seven Sisters to South Tottenham does NOT have a connection blob, even though it’s just as close as the two Walthamstows and Wanstead Park to Forest Gate which are connected on the map.  Intriguingly the London Rail map puts South Tottenham in the right geographical place – to the south of Seven Sisters, but the new TfL Map gets this wrong, putting it to the north.

And then there’s how lines overlap – a huge bugbear for some people. e.g. consistency is important in that all sub-surface Tube lines on the map do indeed go on top of Tube lines on the map but on the new TfL Map there’s no logic to it.

Over or under?

Over or under?

At Stratford International, the DLR goes underneath the Central Line but then it then goes over the TfL Rail line at Stratford – when in real life it goes below it.

Looking around the map, it seems that where possible, the map designers have taken the decision to deliberately put a ‘cased’ line below a solid coloured line – whether it does that in real life or not.  It’s not as if a cased Overground line can’t go on top of another line – it has to in places where it crosses itself such as immediately south of Hackney Downs, so why not get it correct everywhere else?

And don’t forget TfL Rail – the line which is now the start of Crossrail as TfL take over services between Shenfield and Liverpool Street.   It means there’s now another ‘Zone 9′ station to the map (joining Amersham and Chesham), as well as another ‘Special Fares Apply’, zone – joining Watford Junction – it’s also another twelve stations added to the map that aren’t Tube stations – so really, we can’t call it a Tube Map any more, it really is the TfL Map.

The Overground is arguably TfL’s proudest piece of branding, because despite frequent attempts of those long freight trains that break down on the North London Line, the Overground is consistently one of the best in terms of the percentage stats that trains turn up on time and are reliable.  Plus the trains are new, shiny orange, and spacious – even more so now that fifth carriages are being added, it’s a great railway.

But even though the old/existing stock will run on the ‘new’ lines that are Overground until TfL replace them, our first thought is that all this will actually do is expand the brand too much and reliability figures will fall – the larger something is, the harder it becomes to manage.

If TfL get to take over any more lines in the future and have a desire to brand them as ‘Overground’ as well, there will need to be some distinction between the different Overground lines  – having them named, or numbered – something – that helps differentiate between the sprawl of the Overground.

It’s also worth a chuckle over the TfL website that launched an interactive SVG version of the map on its website first – before the PDF was put online, and it’s got all sorts of problems including overlapping text, and a missing cablecar and Olympia branch. So instead have a look at this brilliant version which uses the TfL data, but actually draws it correctly!


Leytonstone High Road

Leytonstone High Road

Leytonstone HIgh Road has moved! It used to be geographically correct to the right side of the Central Line, but in order to accomodate the connector blob between Wanstead Park and Forest Gate, it’s now been moved to the left (west) side of the Central line which is now geographically incorrect.

Someone’s also asked us if the ‘connection lines’ between the two blobs at Clapham Junction are correct.  By TfL’s map design standards we say – yes, but all it does it highlight the inconsistencies on other parts of the map.  e.g. Look at Westminster and Hammersmith – there’s a tiny connection line between the two blobs there, but at Earl’s Court there is not – why the inconsistency?


New May 2015 Tube Map now online

21st May 2015

The new map with all the new Overground orange is now online! As predicted, the Overground is all in Orange – a LOT of Orange – 28 new non-Tube stations now appearing on the ‘Tube’ map …

New May 2015 Tube Map

New May 2015 Tube Map


TfL Rail

19th May 2015

We’ve discovered there is now a TfL Rail section on the TfL website for the Liverpool Street to Romford and Shenfield services.  Including the new timetable.

TfL Rail starts on Sunday May 31st, and will appear on the new Tube map (still yet to be published) as a ‘cased’ blue colour line.  Keep your eyes peeled for the new map!

TfL Rail

TfL Rail

Overground at Clapham Junction

18th May 2015

We caught an Overground train from Clapham Junction yesterday, and obviously by default found ourselves instinctively walking towards Platforms 1 and 2 where Overground trains always depart from.

Except not always though, because an eagle-eyed companion of ours spotted that oddly the train was scheduled to leave from Platform 17 – on completely the other side of the station – where Southern trains that run up through Shepherds Bush often come through.

We’d never seen this before and wondered how often it occurs – and why. Was there a problem with Platform 1, was it for driver/route knowledge or training … or some other reason? We’d love to know.

Overground from Platform 17

Overground from Platform 17

Data Analysed Tube Map

16th May 2015

Now this – we love! We heard from Matt Hoffbrand this week who presented us with a Tube map made up from words – a bit like when you see a mashup of words on a particular topic all put together, and the more popular words appear in a larger front. So we’re assuming here that ‘BANK‘ appears nice and big, because it IS the busiest interchange on the network.

Matt told us that like many he “loves the tube map visual style – and just wanted to add a bit of creativity to it – I had trouble doing Bank, but once that connected up everything else made sense!”

Matt makes more of these (he’s a Data Analyst by trade) and you’ll find them over on his Twitter feed.

Tube Pixels

Tube Pixels

Down Street Disused ‘Ghost’ Station

14th May 2015

Station Master Geoff for Londonist got to go down Down Street station the other week, and here’s the video that was produced – inside an abandoned station!

New Santander Cycles App launched

11th May 2015

Santander Cycles AppBoris Bikes have been around for a few years now, but only today do they now have an official App.

The App is Available on the App Store for free.

We haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but will post some screenshots when we do hire a bike!

Full press release from TfL:

Revolutionary new Santander Cycles App launched

New App will make Santander Cycles easier to use than ever before
Partnership with Santander is helping to grow and develop London’s iconic cycle hire scheme
London’s newest red icon – Santander Cycles – today launched a revolutionary new App, making the cycle hire scheme easier to use than ever before.

The new Santander Cycles App for Android and iOS smartphones is free to download for both members and casual users. In addition to viewing the nearest docking station and bike availability, the new App is able to send a ‘bike release’ code straight to a user’s phone, which means they can hire a cycle without having to use the docking station terminal.

All customers need to do is register with their bank card, use the App to ‘hire now’ from a nearby docking station, and just tap the code into a docking point to release a bike for use.

Extra features of the Santander Cycles App
· See up-to-the minute information about which docking stations have cycles and spaces available;
· Users can log in to their membership accounts;
· Buy 24 hour and annual subscriptions;
· Receive notifications showing the cost at the end of a hire period;
· View recent journeys and charges;
· Tells users exactly when their hire period has started – and confirms the bike has been securely docked at the end of a hire period;
· Plan a journey with an easy to follow map – Transport for London’s (TfL’s) real-time cycling Journey Planner is available at the touch of a button, which shows users where they can hire a bike and how many are available at any one of the Capital’s 750 docking stations;
· Smart design means it can be constantly upgraded and improved by TfL and Santander with the latest app technology available.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The new Santander Cycles App will make finding and hiring a bike in our great Capital city even more of a doddle. The App is packed full of handy new features and is part and parcel of our plans to take the cycle hire scheme to the next level and encourage more people on to two wheels.”

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “This is just one of the exciting new developments we’re bringing to life with our new partnership with Santander. Together we’re working hard to make cycling an integral part of London life, so anyone can jump on a bike to get to work, the shops or discover the Capital. The new official Santander Cycles App will make hiring a bike much easier for both members and casual users by being able to find the nearest docking station and check how many bikes are available, and get an access code so you can just hop on and go without spending time at the terminal.”

Nathan Bostock, CEO, Santander UK, said: “We’re absolutely committed to growing and developing Santander Cycles together with TfL by making more bikes available, providing more docking stations and offering extra benefits in future to give Londoners and visitors to the Capital the best possible experience.

“Since announcing our partnership in February of this year, we’ve already added 3 per cent cashback on cycle hire journeys for customers using their 1|2|3 credit card, and the App further demonstrates our commitment to making the cycle scheme more fun, rewarding and easy.”

The new red-and-white livery of Santander Cycles is already widespread across London and the transition is continuing at pace as docking stations and distribution vans are rebranded.

Santander Cycles is the second-largest cycle hire scheme in Europe, and since it was introduced in 2010, around 40 million journeys have been made using the bikes, making it a popular and affordable way to travel around London for work or leisure.

Usage of the scheme rose by a quarter last year and is at a record high, with more than 10 million journeys made in 2014. Customer satisfaction is also at an all-time high, with over 80 per cent of members intending to renew their membership.

Tube Life Hacks

9th May 2015

There’s a new YouTube channel – City Hacks London – where the people behind it have made a fun video about ‘hacks’ on the Tube. They got in touch with us to ask if they could use some of our 3D maps – and so we said yes! Have a watch of this fun video full of shortcuts on the Tube …

Behind the scenes at Bond Street

6th May 2015

Bond Street is having a major station upgrade with a new entrance, escalators, and lifts being installed – separate from the Crossrail works taking place.  Station Masters Geoff and Matt got to go down and have a look …