Transport for London secretly make a geographically accurate Tube map and it's strangely hypnotising

Clara Guibourg
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From straight to wiggly lines (Source: Transport for London)

The London Tube map that's been in use since Harry Beck designed it in 1931 may (rightly) be lauded as a classic feat of design, but with all those 45-degree corners and straight lines, it doesn’t come particularly close to reality.

Journeys that appear only a few hundred metres in length on the map sometimes turn out to cover a real distance of several miles, adding a hilarious element of surprise to your commute. Or not.

So if you’ve ever wondered what the London Tube network really looks like, or just how far it really is between stations, you’re in luck.

It turns out that Transport for London (TfL) actually make a geographically accurate map - they just don’t bother telling anyone about it. This has now been revealed, by a Freedom of Information request made by a James Burbage to TfL:

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.

Thanks to this, the map is now available online for anyone to explore, zoom in on and generally peruse to their heart’s content. Try it, it’s strangely mesmerising.

This isn’t the only unorthodox London Tube map recently released: Just a month ago TfL published equally hypnotic 3D maps revealing London Tube stations’ secrets.

Other efforts include a map of how many calories you burn walking between Tube stations, and, memorably, a Tube strike survival map showing what pubs you should stop off at on your long walk home.

Edited 17/9 to add:

Since being made available, the new version of the Tube map has gone viral, having gone down so well among Londoners that TfL has decided to added it to its website.

Gareth Powell, director of strategy and service development at London Underground, told City A.M. that although never really secret, the map wasn't originally intended for customer use:

This map was produced for engineering works planning and wasn't designed for customer use, however we are happy to make any maps available which help our customers to travel in London.

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