London Underground: Geographically Accurate Map Obtained By Freedom Of Information Request

16/09/2015 09:24 | Updated 17 September 2015

The London Underground map has become something of an unofficial mascot for the capital, but the familiar refrain that it’s just not physically accurate remains.

Despite this, the classic straight lines and sharp angles of the 1933 template by electrical draughtsman Harry Beck have endured, regardless.

Until now that is…

london underground map

This is how London's complex transport network really winds its way around the city

According to City Metric, one James Burbage has managed to prise a geographically accurate map of the network from Transport for London – using a Freedom of Information request.

london underground

The map is in stark contrast to the 1933 template of classic straight lines and sharp angles by electrical draughtsman Harry Beck

His request, dated 13 August 2014, can be viewed online at government and public sector watchdog What Do They Know? Crucially it acknowledges any information which could pose a concern for health and safety will be omitted.

Dear Transport for London,

Please supply a geographically accurate map of all the stations platforms, lines and tracks that form the London Underground, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway and National Rail services where applicable, which is updated as of August/September 2014.

Omit information which could pose a concern for health and safety.

Yours faithfully,

J. Burbage

The map which TfL responded with shows all London’s railways – including a few which have not yet been built.

Croydon’s tram routes are also on the map, as are main roads and major parks. To view the map in all its strangely cluttered and knotty glory, click here.

Unofficial stabs at more geographically accurate versions of the TfL map have been made before – including this effort by Hong Kong-based Wikipedia user Sameboat, which includes Crossrail, the future Battersea extension of the Northern Line and the Watford branch on the Metropolitan Line.

unofficial tube map

Click here to see the map in all its glory

A new official Tube map was released by TfL 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

  • 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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