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Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 17:45 UK
Thames reunited with Tube map

New Tube map
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The people have made their feelings known, and with a little help from the Mayor, it seems that Transport for London (TfL) has finally relented.

From December, the River Thames will be back on the Underground map!

It is believed that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was furious when he learnt of the changes made to the map and ordered TfL to restore the River Thames on future versions.

TfL has also said that its decision to remove the fare zones is under review.

The Thames has been a feature of the map since Harry Beck's original in 1933, although the fare zones were not added until 2002.

People might be surprised to discover that the Tube map is usually updated a couple of times a year. Regular, if minor, revisions are made to the map to incorporate upgrades and extensions to the Underground system.

Confusing and foolish

The capital's public transport watchdog, London TravelWatch, had branded the new design 'confusing' and 'foolish'.

BBC London had also received dozens of emails from members of the public who are angry about the changes.

Initially, defending the new map, Transport for London (TfL) had said that the revised design was based on passenger feedback. TfL also claimed that the previous map had become "cluttered" and lost its "simplicity".

Mapping the history

It is ironic that removing the River Thames has proved to be such a controversial decision. Famously, the schematics of the Tube map bear little relation to geographic accuracy above ground.

It was in 1931 that Harry Beck, an engineering draughtsman for London Underground, realised that a diagram showing the routes and the stations of the Underground did not need to correspond to their actual location.

Before Beck

Previously, different companies operating different lines used to produce their own maps. They were based on the distances between each station and often superimposed on to a road map.

By 1908, the maps had become much simpler. Simple horizontal lines were used to depict each route. However, it was still a long way off from showing the London Underground system as a unified whole on a single map.

Electrical expertise

Beck was able to use his expertise in drawing electrical circuitry to produce a comprehensible map in full colour for London's sprawling Tube network.

Like all the best ideas though it did not gain immediate acceptance. Beck had been producing the map in his spare time, and when he first submitted it to London Underground it was rejected for being too radical.

It was only after a successful trial production of Beck's map in 1932, that London Underground pressed ahead with a full publication in 1933. The public loved it.

It is said that, for producing one of the world's most iconic and best-loved maps, Harry Beck was paid the handsome sum of five guineas, or just over £5 in today's money. Beck, however, continued to refine and produce new designs of the map up until 1960.

After Beck

Many revisions and additions have since been made to the Tube map. For example, the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line extension have both become permanent fixtures. In the summer of 2010, the East London Line extension will also need to be added.

Despite the changes, the modern tube maps are clearly an evolution rather than a radical revolution of Harry Beck's original design.

Let us know what you think: yourlondon@bbc.co.uk

Your Emails

Thames and zones and location grid? Essential. Call me cynical, but when organisations claim they have consulted "widely" you can be sure they have not. After all, it appears even the Mayor wasn't consulted! I do not necessarily expect to be "consulted" myself but if there had been a "consultation" surely there would have been evidence of it. If it's a matter of not enough space, do you think removing the advertising banner at the bottom might help?
John Hammond

Bring back the Thames and the different zones. A cat wouldn't find its kitties! The river makes it easier to see if you are staying north or south and with the zones you know at a glance what travelcard you need? Is TFL trying to confuse us? Where did they get their feedback?

I hate to be cynical but is this just a covert attempt to fine more customers when travelling outside their zones? Also, even small details which made navigation easier have been removed, like the indicator to show where there are train connections at certain tube stations (like my local station Walthamstow Central). These used to be in red, but are now in the same shade of blue as the station names, making it harder to scan across the map and see where connections can be made. I hate to be over-dramatic but this kind of thing does make me wonder exactly what wisdom was employed in making these changes. I'd like to meet the person who was confused by the tube map in its old format.
James Ranger

I personally support the new Tube map. It is so much clearer, and if people want a map with zones, they only have to look at the London Connections map which is displayed alongside. The whole point of the Tube map is to show the routes. Fares information is a relatively new introduction, which has led to the labelling of stations being cramped into awkward corners. It's a shame about the missing River Thames, but apart from that, the new map is really clear and easy to use.
Jonathan Howard

The new tube map is terrible. Not having the Thames makes navigation that bit more confusing, also removal of the zones, really is not acceptable.
Luke Sheldrick

I find this incredibly stupid! The Thames is an important landmark on the map, and is something that many (I'm sure like myself), use to get around the city, especially for just river walk strolls. I really can't believe they are removing it, it's insane. The Thames was a big help with knowing where you were in relation to various places, and the stations shown near it were very important.

The river is the landmark that helps you to locate the tube station. To remove it is a bad idea
Chris Hopkins

I think the River Thames should remain on the tube map as it gives another perspective without addition complexity. The map is misleading enough as its not to scale so the river at least gives users a reference point to work with - particularly if they decide to walk!

Losing the river is not a major loss, however without the zones it becomes a lot harder to find out how much journeys cost. Bring back the zones.
Andrew Elliott

Absolutely a bad move. For us South Londoners we are already poorly served by the tube, now they are planning to make sure we cannot even tell at a glance if we have crossed the river or not. Absolutely not impressed.
Amanda Howells, Eltham

How ridiculous to remove the Thames and the Zones on the London Tube Map! It is a map after all, so why not have the Thames? The Zones are really important to buy the correct ticket so please don't change the Tube Map!

The river on the map has always enabled me, as a Londoner, to keep bearings on what is South bank and what is north. I'm sure it is of great benefit to visitors trying to find their way around, so its removal is regrettable.
Martin Jewitt, Thornton Heath

Removing the Thames from the Tube map is a very bad idea, although it may look more simple it is eliminating one of the few aspects that links the tube diagram to the real world. Many tourists use the tube map as a guide of where to go or how to get there - the river services will now just look like a printing error! I believe it's another move by TFL to discourage people from walking, and forcing them to use public transport. Removing the zone areas will prevent travellers from being able to estimate the cost of their journey - ignorance on the side of the traveller will only increase the price we pay.
Rik Smith

What a pity they're removing the River Thames from the Tube map.  It acts as a 'term of reference' when looking up stations and locations, also is worth having there as I have experienced London taxi drivers being reluctant to go from one side of the river to the other. Also, it's insulting to London as a city where the Thames plays such a huge part in its life, and is of historic and geographical interest and importance. Keep it on the map please !!!
Diane, a loyal Londoner

I work for the tube and I don't think having or not having the river on the map makes a big difference. But it's madness to remove the zones from the map, that's the only way people can work out how much they need to pay !!!!

The London Tube map is not only the most outstanding travel plan design in the world, it is also an extraordinary London work of art. Our capital city occupies both sides of the Thames which, until now, has rightfully formed an integral part of the London Tube map. I suggest the current design team examine the "clutter" caused by recent over- zealous attempts at political correctness, rather than seeking to remove elements that visually aid travellers.
Ronny Roberts

As London Underground have removed the zones from Tube maps, how are passengers meant to know what tickets/travel cards they need and if they are stopped by a Revenue Control Inspector on the tube and told that they haven't got the correct ticket for the zone they are in and are liable for a £25 penalty fare, is it actually their fault?
Kevin Larkin

I find this move by London Underground absolutely ridiculous! Even for those of us who live in London and travel on the Tube in central London frequently, I'm sure our awareness of the network is very much based on markers like the blue river line separating the Northern and Southern stations of the Tube. That light blue line, not at all 'cluttering' the map at all gives both Londoners and visitors an indication of where they are geographically, on a map that we know isn't based on the true scale of the distance between stations anyway. The river marking on the map compensates for this and is one of the most important features of it! The London Tube map is an icon and has been for decades, and it is copied through the world - why on Earth would we want to change it now?!!
David Burke

Yes - of course the diagrammatic position of the river must be kept if only to permit people to see at a glance whether they are near a tube station or not. The more cynical of us might wonder whether the decision to remove the river from the map is solely a device for TfL to disguise how relatively little of the system operates south of the Thames.
Morris Hickey

I work for London Underground and have already received complaints from the public about the missing zones. These are key so the customers can know the cost of the journey according to the zone's they use. The River Thames missing is a shame as it's nice to know at a glance which stations are on the river. But the most important thing is the missing zones. Customers tickets are dependant upon which zones they are using and this was self-explanatory on the old map. Now customers are likely to get fined for going outside their zones without even realising it.
LU employee

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