Alternative Tube Maps: Straight Lines And Circles

Click for larger image.

Last week, Jonathan Fisher sent us a reworked Tube map, which presented the network as a series of concentric circles. Max Roberts, a long-time experimenter with the Tube map and author of Underground Maps Unravelled, has pushed the design further, increasing the number of concentric sections and — most pleasingly — spacing out the central section to resemble the famous Tube roundel. Note also that the map includes the Thameslink line and the forthcoming Crossrail — both of which are absent from TfL’s standard Tube map.

As Max explains over on Annie Mole’s blog, this is intended purely as a bit of fun, to see how resilient the map is to such tamperings. “I don’t think I will be sending this one to TfL for comments,” he says. “No great advances in usability here, but it was fun to make it.”

See our comprehensive guide to alternative Tube maps.

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  • Michael

    After being so critical of the abomination that was the previous circular map posted, I will say this one is everything that was not. It is almost practical and quite elegant, very impressive overall.

    I do find it odd that the Thameslink loop only goes as far as Streatham rather than linking up with Wimbledon. The only sense I could make is that there is only a “metro frequency” service of a train every fifteen minute to Streatham, while the Wimbledon branch is only half-hourly. But by this logic Amersham and Chesham should be excluded, not to mention the now diminished service to Kensington Olympia.

    While it should not be considered a replacement for the official tube map, I could actually see this being used in more exhibition-like capacities where there is need for a diagram away from stations.

    • Max Roberts


      Thanks for the kind comments, this map is definitely a dramatic rendition, but not one I would recommend or usability (it will be fun to set it as a student project to test it).

      The results of the Thameslink reconstruction seem to be very undecided. I can’t track down a definitive service proposal, and my suspicion is that after spending all that money, they won’t want to send their expensive new trains round the lightest-used railway in South London. Once the services gets announced (north and south), I can add accordingly, until then, I don’t want to commit myself.

      • Michael

        One thing we can now be certain of, the Wimbledon-Sutton loop services will remain part of Thameslink. The government made that announcement last week.

        The original proposals were for them to be curtailed at Blackfriars, as the tracks from Herne Hill face the new terminating platforms on the west side of the station. But in response to a public consultation by the DfT there was a high profile campaign to retain through services from local groups and politicians of all parties around the loop that they won out.

        The announcement also confirmed the current Sevenoaks services will continue to be part of the network, in addition to a new peak service to Maidstone. Which unfortunately for your map means having to connect Elephant and Castle with Denmark Hill to include that branch, and presumably a similarly unavoidable twist to the Thameslink one for West Hampstead.

        Here is that announcement:

  • Ben Barnett

    Really wish you guys would link to the authors as well as your own articles.

    • Dave H

      Curious comment. There are two links to this map’s author (or his publications) in this article.

  • BobBob

    This one works for me, unlike the some of the other recent shoings

  • The Londoneer

    The Overground completed circle in zone 2 is very neat, but due to space constraints they have clearly had to take real liberties with the eastern central line – the Epping branch should shoot straight out like the District.

    • Max Roberts


      Its not due to space constraints, believe me, I am not proud of what I did to Epping, but when using a difficult and restrictive set of design rules such as this, you fight with them at your peril. I tried plenty of alternatives, and the most weird result geographically looked the most natural on the map.

  • ridealongnwreckit

    Originally a Central Londoner, from Covent Garden, I like the concentric circle approach to the map. I still think of London life as bounded by the Circle Line, the North Circular, or the M25; although mostly these days it’s the habits and behaviour of the surface traffic throughout the day as encountered by motorbike, that occupies me…