London Overground Strip Map


Finally, an orange menace that doesn’t pose an existential threat to nations. It does, however, pose an existential threat to my eyes.

There are two reasons this map exists. Three. The first is I needed a break from the Tokyo map. The second is this Twitter conversation:

Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 9.28.23 PM.png

The third is this magnificent CityMetric article about all the different problems of the actual Overground map, some of which could be addressed (no Seven Sisters/South Tottenham interchange, the sword symbols beside Cambridge Heath and London Fields) and some of which couldn’t, thanks to the inherent nature of the map itself (everything running horizontally, the isolation of the Romford to Upminster Line).


  • Most of the time when I draw transit maps my philosophy is “it will be as big as it needs to be,” only occasionally trying to squeeze the map into predetermined proportions, like a square. This, however, is the first time I had to deal with hard-and-fast spatial restrictions.
  • I’m evidently not letting my “assign letters to tube lines and numbers to Overground lines” idea die anytime soon. It was actually quite useful here, for trying to differentiate this twisty orange line from that twisty orange line, especially because…
  • I had an idea for different colors for different Overground lines but it looked weird, so everything’s still orange instead.
  • How the map handles accessibility icons was largely inspired by how Cameron Booth did it in his tube map redesign.
  • Good luck trying to fit Crossrail into this thing when it opens in a few years. I’m honestly not sure there’s enough space above the train doors for it.
  • And finally, Jonn’s right. This map is pointless. But some idiot at TfL felt a strip map showing the entire Overground network should exist, so here we are.


UPDATE 12/31/16: Thanks to this Twitter conversation here’s a version with fare zones. It’s…honestly kinda funny-looking. I still think geographic distortion is something you’re always going to get with a strip map, especially with one showing a network as extensive as this, but there really is no excuse for having Liverpool Street outside the Overground loop, and indeed having a map whose entire right half looks like it’s having a landslide. I am interested in seeing how Max handles that hot mess, though.

overground strip map with fare zones.png


About theoditsek

I like going places.
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2 Responses to London Overground Strip Map

  1. David Edmondson says:

    Someone had probably visited Tokyo and admired their trains’ utter lack of any system map save for the system-squeezing strip maps, which look totally bonkers.

    • theoditsek says:

      What our hypothetical weeb friend at TfL fails to understand about strip maps in Japan is that your average private railway system over there is organized like a tree, with one or two main lines from which sprout any number of branches. This particular network structure is very well suited to a strip map, for obvious reasons. In addition, it allows the map to focus on things that are more immediate for someone on a train, like service patterns.

      The Overground, meanwhile, has a structure more similar to a wheel, with orbital lines going around the city and spokes going into the suburbs from the city center. In addition, the Overground’s service patterns aren’t anywhere near as complicated as Tokyo’s impenetrable system of expresses and semi-expresses and limited expresses and rapids and such. This is not a network well-suited for an in-car strip map.

      My best guess as to how this monster originated is how most things in London originated, really: it just sort of grew, piecemeal, and spiraled out of control when no one was looking. It kind of made sense to have the entire Overground network on a strip map when it was smaller, but after TfL swallowed the Lea Valley Lines they should really have focused on strip maps that depict the route the train is actually on instead of the whole thing.

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