London Underground Unofficial Tube Map Is Even Better Than The Real Thing

07/08/2015 12:34 | Updated 07 August 2015

The map of the London Underground is an iconic design, almost as beloved to some as the network itself.

Based on a 1933 template by electrical draughtsman Harry Beck, it has has largely stuck to its formula of classic straight lines and sharp angles.

But it has had an unofficial revamp – introducing curves to denote the Circle Line, walking interchanges and even future lines that aren’t in use yet.

unofficial tube map

Click here to see the map in all its glory

Hong Kong-based Wikipedia user Sameboat came up with the revised map, which includes Crossrail, the future Battersea extension of the Northern Line and the Watford branch on the Metropolitan Line.

The map was spotted by CityMetric, which points out just how superior it is to the latest zoomable version as released officially by Transport for London. [Which it scathingly describes as: ‘It’s cramped, it’s unclear, and it just isn’t very pretty.’]


The official map was released earlier this year and features 28 new London Overground stations taken over from National Rail services – thus populating it with a whole lot of extra orange...

new tube map transport for london underground

The London Underground updated its official map in May. Click to enlarge

[CityMetric also points out that the new map corrects this by differentiating the lines, though does ponder on the given names – ‘The old East London line is now the South Chord?’]

On the official map the Liverpool Street - Shenfield line is also prominent as TfL Rail takes it over from Abellio Greater Anglia (until it becomes part of Crossrail in 2018).

unofficial london underground map

The key to Sameboat's unofficial map

Another difference in the new map was the appearance of a kink in the Central line - there to make way for the addition of Crossrail in three years.

The thinner font drew criticism as did early online incarnations of the design, which bizarrely saw a few lines disappear completely.

new tube map

Teething troubles: There were some glitches in early incarnations of the new official map

The Emirates Air Line in Greenwich mysteriously fell off the map, leaving a random floating cable car on the bank of the Thames and the rarely understood District Line service from Earl's Court to Kensington Olympia also temporarily vanished.

Sameboat’s map has been online since August and appears to be a work in progress with new versions being uploaded since.

Something he/ she might want to address, however is the wheelchair accessibility of stations...

  • 1889
    Transport for London
    Early Tube maps were simply geographical versions with the lines overlaid. This shows the District Railway and the Metropolitan Lines and the Circle Line which joined the two in 1884.
  • 1908
    London Transport Museum
    An early example of 'UndergrounD' logo.
  • 1921
    London Transport Museum
    This map shows interchanges as white dots and discarded all detail other than the lines.
  • 1933
    London Transport Museum
    1933 saw the first example of Harry Beck's schematic maps, created in an attempt to make them more readable. The move marked a turning point in their design.
  • 1937
    London Transport Museum
    This pre-war version shows areas of interest such as galleries and cathedrals.
  • 1937
    London Transport Museum
  • 1936
    London Transport Museum
    The words 'London' and 'Transport' added to the logo.
  • 1943
    London Transport Museum
    Evidence of Beck attempting to limit the use of diagonal lines in his designs.
  • 1948
    London Transport Museum
  • 1951
    London Transport Museum
    This version was adjusted so that Richmond was placed next to the Thames unlike previous maps.
  • 1958
    London Transport Museum
    The bends of the River Thames become more pronounced, reflecting the format of the lines.
  • 1963
    London Transport Museum
    The Underground's Publicity Officer, Harold F Hutchinson, took over design duties for this version but it's cluttered look did not go down well.
  • 1964
    London Transport Museum
    Paul E. Garbutt's design allowed for bends in the lines to create space for station names.
  • 1970
    London Transport Museum
    The more familiar 'Underground' logo appears with evenly sized characters.
  • 1974
    London Transport Museum
    The Victoria line all the way to Brixton appears.
  • 1977
    London Transport Museum
    One of the last pre-Jubilee Line era maps.
  • 1986
    London Transport Museum
    The original Charing Cross station is renamed Embankment.
  • 1987
    London Transport Museum
  • 1990
    London Transport Museum
    Jubilee line extensions added
  • 1994
    London Transport Museum
  • 1998
    London Transport Museum
    Zonal areas introduced on the maps.
  • 1999 March
    London Transport Museum
  • 1999 December
    London Transport Museum
  • 2010
    London Transport Museum
  • 2012
    the 150th anniversary edition.
  • 2016
    What we're familiar with today.
  • The vision for 2019

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