All posts tagged “Adobe Illustrator

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Project: Amtrak Subway Map, 2016

2016 Amtrak Subway Map - Small

Click on the image above or here to view a large version of the map!

One of my longest-running projects is a subway diagram-styled map of Amtrak’s passenger rail network, with the original version dating back to 2010. I always made sure to update it regularly over the years, adding and deleting stations to keep it current. In April last year, I attempted to update the design of the map as well, although I ended up trying a few too many overly-clever things with it – overlaying lines on top of each other just because I was in love with transparency effects being the worst offender. The final result ended up being less than satisfactory, and I shelved the project while I worked on other things.

Coming back with fresh eyes almost a year-and-a-half later, I was able to be ruthlessly objective about what worked and what didn’t in that 2015 draft. The confusing overlaid route lines definitely had to go, but the new typography – using the superb Fira Sans – and larger route designation bullets were huge improvements over the original design. From this starting point, I set out with some clear goals for improvement this time around.

First and foremost was more intelligent, harmonious spacing of stations. Previous versions crammed some sections in very tightly, while giving far too much space to other parts of the map. The chief offenders for closely-packed stations have always been the Keystone/Pennsylvanian routes running west out of Philadelphia, all the Michigan Service routes,  and the Missouri River Runner between St. Louis and Kansas City – so I paid extra attention to these sections, ensuring that the minimum distance between stops on these sections was the same as that defined elsewhere on the map. For the record, the gap between stations on the Northeast Corridor was used as the “building block” for the rest of the map, and it’s been much more faithfully adhered to in this version of the map.

More intelligent spacing also helped a lot on the west coast. Previously, I’d spaced these stations relatively evenly from Vancouver, BC all the way down to San Diego. This looks nice enough in isolation, but it caused the split route lines in the Empire Builder at Spokane to take up way too much space – the three stations on each of these two branches were placed much further apart than any other stations on the entire map. Eastern Washington state is big, but not that big!

In this version, I broke the west coast into a “Pacific Northwest” section from Vancouver down to Eugene-Springfield, and a “California” section from Sacramento all the way down to San Diego. These two sections were spaced as tightly as their Northeast Corridor counterpart on the east coast, with the connecting rural Oregon/California section on the Coast Starlight being more loosely spaced to fill in the resulting gap between the two regions. This improved the spacing and visual size of the Empire Builder branches immensely, possibly the single biggest improvement on the map. I’d always used a similar approach on the City of New Orleans route right from the first version of the map, so doing this actually made the design of the map more consistent.

I also reworked the trajectory of the Southwest Chief on this version. It’s a little twistier than before, but it puts the Colorado stations in a better location relative to Denver, which I think is a spatial improvement.

Keen-eyed readers will have noticed that there’s a new Amtrak service shown on the map – the Winter Park Ski Train that will start running between Denver and the Winter Park ski resort this January! It only has one return trip each Saturday and Sunday (and on the Presidents Day and MLK Day holidays) through to the end of March, but it’s definitely exciting to add a new line to the map, no matter how short it is! The new purpose-built station at Winter Park will not be served by the daily California Zephyr, which will continue to stop just down the line at Fraser instead.

This version of the map also shows two future Amtrak stations – Hillsborough, North Carolina (opening 2020), and Arcadia Valley, Missouri (potentially opening as early as Fall this year) – as well as the “suspended” section of the Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Orlando. I put this last bit in to show that the map is intentionally designed to accommodate it, just in case – by some miracle – it ever gets reinstated. The potential extension of Northeast Regional service to Roanoke is a little further into the future, so it remains off the map for now (although it would be quite easy to add when the time comes).

As usual, your thought and comments are welcome! Prints are now on sale in my online shop from just $27: there’s a version that includes the suspended Sunset Limited track, and another that just shows the current services.

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Quick Project: Montréal Métro Redesign

Montreal Metro Map - Large

Readers of my Transit Maps blog would know that I was extremely disappointed with the recent Montréal Métro map redesign (see the review here), which took a truly unique, iconic design and replaced it with a very ordinary octolinear imitation of itself. So I’ve taken it upon myself to redraw the map as I think it should look: restoring some elements of the previous maps, simplifying and clarifying the network, and adding some new touches all of my own.

First things first: I’ve restored the map’s most distinctive feature – the 30-odd-degree counter-clockwise tilt (older official maps had this at around 37 degrees or so; I’ve decided to use 35 degrees purely because it makes the maths easier). From a technical standpoint, this meant I actually drew most of the map using standard 90-degree angles, then selected everything and rotated it 35 degrees to add the labels and other finishing touches.

Note that stations are spaced to achieve even and harmonious spacing between labels across the map: this means that station dots on the shallow-angled parts of the map are placed further apart than those on the steeper parts. There was a bit of trial-and-error to get this looking right, but it was worth it in the end! It certainly helped to expand the crowded central part of the map.

Simplification! I’ve always disliked the two ends of the Green Line on official maps: they stair-step and wobble around in an overly complex manner compared to the simplicity of the Orange and Blue lines, so I simply straightened them out while retaining their relative trajectory. Similarly, the Yellow Line is now just a simple horizontal path – no kinked line here.

The routes of the AMT commuter rail lines have been straightened and simplified as much as possible, and care has been taken to only have these routes interact with Métro stations where an interchange is allowed. I’ve also taken the opportunity to introduce the official line colours for each branch in the directional arrows at the outer end of each route, just for a splash of brightness.

Labels have been set in mixed-case, which both enhances legibility and allows for larger text (substantially bigger than the current map). I’be also introduced line number bullets, which are placed consistently at the end of each route, and are cross-referenced in the legend at the bottom of the map. These bullets are reserved for the termini stations only, and aren’t used at stations where routes intersect. The interchange between lines is made obvious by the design of the map, and extra bullets at such stations would just take up unnecessary space.

The odd fact that all the elevators in the Métro system only serve Orange Line platforms allowed me to use a single icon for all of them, which works better than the official map’s two icon system, I think. The legend also states this fact explicitly, just to be sure.

Perhaps controversially, I haven’t included the St. Lawrence River at all. The more I worked on this map, the more diagrammatic and simple it became. In the end, the river ended up feeling too “busy” and became superfluous to my needs. If nothing else, its absence serves as a point of comparison between this map and the official one.

What do you think of the map? Leave your comments, critiques or corrections in the comments below.

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Project: New York Subway Map in the Style of the London Tube Diagram

New York Tube Map - Small

 

 

Click here to view a larger version of the map

A little while ago, someone asked me on my Transit Maps blog whether I had ever seen a map of the New York subway system in the style of the London Underground diagram. Rather surprisingly, I hadn’t actually come across one, so I decided to draw one up myself. Having just completed my own reworking of the Tube Map, I was already acquainted with its design rules and requirements, so this project didn’t actually take that long.

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Redrawn Tube Map – Out of Station Interchanges

Future Tube Map - OSI

Click here to view a large version of the map

One more post about my redrawn London Tube Map before I move onto other projects.

One thing that bothered me about the map as I worked on it was the way that no visual distinction is made between interchanges that are made within the fare control area – that is, simply moving from one platform to another – and those that require you to exit one station and re-enter at another nearby station, preferably by tapping out and then back in again with an Oyster card. There are many such interchanges in London, some of which are well-known and others which seem to be a deep, dark secret known only to the most seasoned of commuters. They’re officially known as Out-of-Station Interchanges, or OSIs, and they even have time limits defined to set boundaries for “reasonable” interchanges between stations.

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Quick Project: Accessibility on the London Underground

tube-wheelchair

While I was researching my redrawn Tube Map, I stumbled across the above representation of the Underground as it supposedly appears to a wheelchair user. While it’s probably meant to be more metaphorical of the fractured nature of the network than a literal representation, I find myself infuriated by it. For example, the “map” really makes it appear that if you get on at Kings Cross St. Pancras (possibly the one truly accessible station on the Underground), you simply cannot go anywhere.

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More Design Notes on the Redrawn Tube Map

Wow! I’ve been completely blown away by the (mostly positive) response to my redrawn Tube Map. Thanks to everyone who has left me a comment or note – all of your thoughts help to inform future revisions to the map. There’s a few more parts of the map that I’m personally really happy with that I’d like to highlight in a little more detail than the already lengthy initial post allowed. Read on for the details!

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Project: Redrawing the London Tube Map

Back to Beck Tube Map

Click here to view a larger version of the map Or here for an alternate version with proper accessibility icons

See also: More design notes on the map, and showing out-of-station interchanges

London’s Underground Diagram (or “Tube Map”) has long been regarded as an icon of informational design, pioneering the way for just about every other schematic transportation map in the world since its inception way back in 1931. But how much of that reputation is actually deserved these days?

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Project: 1956 Paris Métro Map Digital Recreation

Long-time readers of my Transit Maps blog might know that one of my all-time favourite maps is this beautiful two-colour diagram of the Paris Métro from 1956. It’s stylish, beautiful to look at and easy to understand, even with just two printed colours — an elegant combination  of blue and gold. (The background could be a cream paper, or it might be just aged and yellowed white paper: it’s hard to tell!) While the scan from the original source is high-resolution, it’s oversharpened and not suitable for anything other than viewing on a screen. So — as is my wont — I decided to redraw it in Adobe Illustrator, making it completely vector-based.

1956 Paris Metro (2 Color)

Blue and Gold Map: Prints from $30

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2015 Amtrak Subway Map – Revised Draft

2015 Amtrak Subway Map Revised Draft - Sml

Based on feedback from the first draft of this new version of my Amtrak as subway map, I’ve gone and made a few edits, additions and corrections.

The major revision is a reworking of the main section of the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington to make things a little clearer. I’m still using overlapping “multiplied route colour” lines to indicate identical service patterns, but I’ve broken the routes down into smaller, thematically linked groups: the three “local” Empire Corridor routes (the Empire Service, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express); the three “inland” routes (the Cardinal, Carolinian and Crescent); and the three Atlantic Coast/Florida routes (the Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star). These groupings are reflected in the ordering of the route designation disks at New York Penn Station, and the terminus dot for each group displays all three route colours.

With the help of readers, I’ve located and added another three stations: the North Carolina State Fair (which, like the New York State Fair station, only operates for the dates of the fair each year); Lexington, North Carolina (which is only open for one day each year — for the annual Barbecue Festival held in October); and Hillsborough, North Carolina, which is slated to open sometime in 2015. I also heard tell of a Charlotte Airport extension of Carolinian and Piedmont services, but can’t seem to find a solid construction date for it, so it remains off the map for the time being.

The Hoosier State is back on the map, which did require a change in colour for the City of New Orleans, as otherwise the red California Zephyr line would have been directly above the similarly-red City of New Orleans line, making it look as if one long route extended through Chicago. I appropriated the Palmetto’s orange line colour for this, and made the Palmetto a new silver-grey colour to tie in with the two other routes in its thematic group (the “Silver Service” trains).

On this version, I’ve also included the now long-suspended section of the Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Jacksonville, just so you can see how it fits neatly into the structure of the map. Restoration of this service by Amtrak is extremely unlikely, and I would not include this segment on any final version of this map.

As always, comments are most welcome! Almost there, I think!

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Draft: NEW Amtrak Subway Map for 2015

Amtrak 2015 - Draft

Check out the revised second draft of this map here!

At the end of April 2015, Amtrak’s Hoosier State service between Chicago and Indianapolis is scheduled to be discontinued — the first complete loss of a service since I created my “Amtrak as Subway Map” way back in 2010. Over the years, I’ve been pretty vigilant to changes to the Amtrak network — adding and deleting stations as required, extending the Downeaster Line to Brunswick and the Northeast Regional to Norfolk — but a change of this magnitude gives me the chance to take a completely fresh look at this project and rework everything from scratch, instead of just tweaking the old diagram again. Let’s face it – I’ve learned a lot of new skills and tricks in the intervening years!

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Project: 1939 Map of Sydney Railways, Digital Recreation

1939 Sydney Trains Map (Digital Recreation)

Prints for sale from $27

If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then H.C. Beck must have been blushing when this diagram of railway services in Sydney, Australia was produced in 1939. Designed just six years after Beck’s famous London Underground diagram first appeared, it mimics the original’s style almost perfectly, even to the point of using an almost exact copy of the  iconic Underground roundel on the cover. If nothing else, it shows how quickly Beck’s idea was adopted around the world.

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Download: New Orleans Letter Tiles Artwork

New Orleans Letters

Way back in 2009, I created a corporate identity for the New Orleans Tile Company, basing the logo’s letterforms off photographs of the beautiful blue-and-yellow 1920s ceramic tiles that can still be found spelling out street names around the city today. As I only required a small subset of letters for the logo, I never got around to completing the full alphabet. However, over the years, I have received quite a few requests for my artwork from people working on other New Orleans-related typography projects.

So, once and for all, here’s everything I’ve created – released into the public domain for anyone to use as they see fit. While you don’t have to credit me if you create something based on these letterforms, I’d sure like to see what you’ve made! You can use the site’s contact form to send a link to your work my way.

Download: Adobe Illustrator CS3+ .ai format  |  SVG 1.1 format

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Project: Prototype U.S. Highways Shield (1926), Digital Recreation

Pre-1926 U.S. Highway Shield

While doing research for my recent 1947 Interstate Highways map recreation, I stumbled across some scans (PDF link – 0.3MB) of American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) road sign specifications dated from the 1920s. The very first page has a dimensioned drawing of the then brand new U.S. Highways shield that I find extremely interesting, as it doesn’t quite match the the shield as it actually first appeared on real world signage in 1927. Some further research seemed to reveal that this drawing is of a design prototype (of a theoretical Route 56 in Maine) that AASHO discussed in meetings during 1926. The drawing itself is pretty rough, with dimensions that don’t match the actual size of the drawing and completely different shapes for each side of the now-familiar six-point shield, so I redrew it accurately according to the given dimensions in Illustrator.

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Project: 1947 Map of Interstate Highways, Digital Recreation

1947 Interstates Map: Digital Recreation

Prints for sale from $27

Having found and digitally restored the fantastic 1926 map of the U.S. Highway system,  I started to look around to see if I could find a similar map from the advent of the newer Interstate Highway network. However, all my usual sources (the Wikimedia Commons, the Library of Congress and other online research libraries) came up with either nothing or only low resolution scans — certainly nothing suitable for reproduction.

So, what’s a map-obsessed graphic designer to do in this situation? Why, redraw the whole thing faithfully from scratch in Adobe Illustrator, of course!

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Project: 2015 Sydney Festival Route Map

Sydney Festival 2015 Route Map

If you’ve ever been to Sydney in January, then you’ll know that the Sydney Festival is a big deal. Running for almost the entire month, it brings together the very best in the arts from around Australia and the world – music, dance, performance and more. So I was more than a little bit excited when I was commissioned to produce this thematic “route map” of highlighted events, to be used both online and in the Festival’s printed program/brochure.

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Highways of the United States: Maps of States and Regions

Texas_01

In my post about the overall Highways of the United States project, I mentioned that the reason I made the map of the U.S. so big and detailed was so that I could break the map down into individual states and regions. Below is a gallery of all the maps available for sale. You can click on the “View Full Size” text in the gallery lightbox to see the largest preview for each map.

Posters from $27 in the Shop

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Project: Highways of the United States of America

Highways of the United States of America

44″ x 72″ Poster – $185 See Also: Maps of States and Regions

After almost two years of single-handed research, design, checking and cross-checking, I’m incredibly proud and thrilled to present my latest map project. It shows every single current and signed Interstate Highway and U.S. Highway in the contiguous 48 states in a style very similar to my previous Interstates as Subway Map and U.S. Highways as a Subway Map projects. Having made two separate maps that showed each type of road, I really had to at least try to combine them both into one map, didn’t I?

However, I’d stop short of calling this a “subway map”. While still taking many design cues from that genre, I’d rather call it a “simplified road map” instead. Because of the insane complexity of the two combined networks, there’s a lot more adherence to geography here than in those previous, more stylised diagrams. Yes, the roads have been straightened out a lot – especially the Interstates – but many cities fall pretty much exactly where they would be on a “real” map, and roads cross state borders at or very near the correct locations. The overall shapes of the states have also been preserved as much as possible: you’ll see why soon!

The map follows much the same design principles as the previous ones: white circles with black strokes denote named places (cities, towns, etc.) where two or more roads intersect. The more roads at that location, the larger the dot. Named places at intersections are always shown, even if they’re just a teeny-tiny little hamlet. Not all roads meet at named places, so there are intersections with no labels. Places that fall along a road between intersections are shown as a “tick”, and are included if they have a population of 1,000 or over (thanks, Wikipedia!). Obviously, some places are left off the map for clarity in very populous urban areas, especially if they are considered as part of a “greater” metropolis: I apologise in advance if your home town is missing. There’s still an incredible 4,385 named places on the map!

Having to show different types of roads on the same map meant that an additional level of complexity was introduced. I decided that stroke width was the best way to differentiate between two-digit Interstate Highways (the thickest stroke at 8 points wide in my working file), three-digit Interstates (6pt) and U.S. Highways (just 4pt wide). As before, bright colours were assigned to the “major” routes as defined by AASHTO: these are two-digit routes ending in “0” and “5”  for Interstates, and “0” and “1” for U.S. Highways. The U.S. Highways use a lighter tint of the corresponding Interstate colour to differentiate between them if they ever run in close proximity (this is rare, but it does happen: I-55 and U.S. 51 share the same roadway out of New Orleans, for example). Four different greys are then used for the “minor” routes, with cool greys being assigned to odd-numbered routes and warm greys used for even routes. Minor Interstates are represented in darker greys than the minor U.S. Highways to reinforce their higher position in the information hierarchy.

Roads that touch on the map while running parallel to each other are actually sharing the same physical roadway: in AASHTO-speak, they are “concurrent”. Because of the scale of the map, I can’t always show where a U.S. Route might leave a concurrent Interstate to serve a town and then rejoin again immediately afterwards.

Roads that run closely parallel without touching are not concurrent, but are sharing the same corridor. This often happens where an Interstate has supplanted a U.S. Route as the main highway through an area. While I’ve tried my best to show these corridors as accurately as possible, there are instances where the roads are on the “wrong” side of each other compared to the real world. This is especially true when a winding old U.S. Routes cross and recross a (much straighter) Interstate highway multiple times in a short distance.

But enough talk, here’s  an enormous scrollable, zoomable version of the map to peruse!

Needless to say, this map is physically huge. My working Illustrator file was a massive 144 inches wide by 88 inches deep and posters are half that size – the smallest they can be and still retain good legibility. So why did I make the map so big and insanely detailed? Why was it important that the individual states retain their actual shape? Because I’m also making posters of individual states and regions.

And yes, there are posters for sale! Check out both the USA map and the individual state maps in my secure on-line store.

Highways of the USA in the store
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Updated: Portland Unified Rail Map, September 2012

Portland Unified Rail Map, September 2012

Today is the end of an era in Portland, Oregon.

TriMet, under budgetary stress, has done away with the much-loved Free Rail Zone, which allowed free travel by light rail and streetcar within the “Fareless Square” area of downtown Portland and the Lloyd Center. Not too long ago, Fareless Square also applied to buses in the same area, so the writing’s been on the wall for a while.

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Project: Boston MBTA Map Redesign

Boston MBTA Map: Current, with Key Bus Routes

Back in January, I posted a review of the current Boston MBTA transit map on my Transit Maps blog – and I had some harsh words for it (I believe the phrase “hot mess” occurs in the text). Always one to back my words up with actions, I’ve been quietly working on my own revised version that I feel improves the map in quite a few areas. I’ve also created a few different versions to illustrate some points about the design, so hang in there: this could be a long post!

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Tutorial: Adobe Illustrator’s ‘Round Corners’ Effect and Transit Maps

In my earlier post about drawing a transit map, I made mention of the fact that Adobe Illustrator’s “Round Corners” effect doesn’t work very well with multiple curves around a corner, such as parallel route lines changing direction together on a transit map.

This part of my post elicited a very interesting comment from Chris Helenius in Finland, complete with a nice screen shot of the point he’s trying to make – that there are ways to get matching curves around a corner when using the Round Corners effect. However, the method he shows is a workaround – he expands the appearance of the curve, then offsets the path the required distance. In practice, this is very similar to my approach of keeping a “master” library of curves that I insert where needed – both require some cutting and pasting of points and curves to achieve the final result.

What Chris’ post doesn’t recognise is that Adobe’s implementation of Rounded Corners is fundamentally flawed, and it’s a flaw that makes it impossible to achieve consistent nested curves.

As the diagram above shows, the problem comes from Adobe’s poorly implemented definition of “radius” in the Rounded Corner effect’s dialog box.

The dictionary definition of radius is, “a straight line from the centre to the circumference of a circle or sphere.” And that’s what I expect to be implemented when I set a value in the dialog box – make a curve with this radius from the centre point of the inferred circle. If this were true, you’d see curves like those shown in the second column of the diagram: three nicely nested curves at a radius of 10, 20 and 30 points, which look the same regardless of the angle between the lines when you started.

Instead, you get what happens in column three. For reasons known only to itself, Illustrator measures the value that is put into the dialog box from the original corner point (shown as the black lines in column three) that joins the line segments on the intended curve, not the centre point of the circle. In other words, this is not a true radius at all.

When the angle between the line segments is 90 degrees, things work as expected, because the mathematics works out the same regardless of where the “radius” is measured from. But look what happens when there’s a 135-degree angle. Instead of the outer curve having a radius to its centre point of 30 points (as input into the dialog box), it’s actually 72.46 points! Even worse, all three curves end up having completely different centre points (as indicated by the grey intersecting lines), so no amount of fiddling with values is ever going to get them to nest inside each other properly.

As you can see, entering the same set of values into the Round Corners dialog box produces vastly different results depending upon the angle between the line segments – this makes results impossible to predict and the effect totally useless when designing a transit map: what is a nice tight 30 point radius on one part of the map may become a loose 72 point radius in another, even though you asked for a 30 point radius both times. I’ll be sticking to my labour-intensive, but 100% accurate methods.

Note: this part of the tutorial is no longer true for users of Adobe Illustrator CC and above, as Adobe has integrated the excellent “Live Corners” tool into the program. See this post on the Transit Maps blog for more information.

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Washington Metro Diagram: My Last Word

Washington, DC Metro Diagram: Version 3

This is it. My final take on a redesigned Washington, D.C. Metro Map. This is my third major revision of a project that began in February of last year, and won the People’s Choice Award in the Greater Greater Washington “Redesign the Metro Map” contest earlier this year. I’ve taken time away from this diagram to work on a few other projects recently, but the release of Lance Wyman’s draft diagram has inspired me to finish an “ultimate” version of my vision of the diagram.

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Tutorial: How To Design a Transit Diagram

One thing I often get asked regarding my transit diagrams is how I go about actually creating them. Originally, I just jumped right in and pushed things around on a page in Illustrator until it looked okay. These days, I’m far more organised, meticulous and precise with my work and I think it shows in the quality of my diagrams. Here’s a few tips and tricks that I live by when working on them: Read More

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Project: Historical Passenger Rail of Portland, Oregon

Passenger Rail of Portland, Oregon (1912, 1943, 2015)

Somewhat related to my previous post, here’s a new transit map of Portland for your perusal. This piece was born out of two things – a friendly after-work chat with the immensely talented Ryan Sullivan of Paste In Place, where we discussed a concept similar to this; and a chance discovery of a high-resolution scan of a 1943 streetcar/trolley map on the amazing Vintage Oregon site.

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Project: Rail Transit of Portland, Oregon

Rail Transit of Portland, Oregon

Here’s a new transit diagram that I’ve been working on for a while now – a unified rail transit map for the place I live, Portland, Oregon. Portland is blessed with fantastic public transportation, but I’ve always felt that the official TriMet system diagram fails to fully show this, even after its recent redesign.

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Project: Interstates as Subway Diagram (Revised Version)

Interstate_2014_1200px

Posters from $27

My original Eisenhower Interstate System in the Style of H.C. Beck’s London Underground Diagram is one of my most successful pieces of design, with almost 85,000 views on Flickr, countless posters sold, and inclusion in the excellent book Mapping America: Exploring the Continent (highly recommended for map geeks!).

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Project: High Speed Train Routes of France Transit Diagram

TGV Diagram

Society6 – Large Poster: $34 Society6 – X-Large Poster: $50

Presenting my next transit-styled diagram, this time showing all the high speed train routes that pass through France. This includes the French (SNCF) TGV trains, the Eurostar trains from London, the Thalys services from Belgium and the Netherlands, and some ICE services from Germany that operate in tandem with corresponding TGV services from France. It does not show high speed trains that do not pass through France: for example, the ICE train from Amsterdam to Germany does not pass through France, so is not shown.

Research for this diagram was particularly tricky as no one source outlines all the routes in one comprehensive listing. I had to compile the information from various sources, none more valuable than the amazing Deutsche Bahn web timetable, which I have fond memories of using in 2003 as I caught trains all over Europe while backpacking.

Once I started the diagram, the sheer amount of high speed services in France initially overwhelmed me, and it was a long while before things formed a coherent pattern for me. Once I worked out the complex routing of trains out of and around Paris, things began to fall into place. I decided that colour-coding would try to reflect the origin of the train, so all trains out of the Gare de l’Est in Paris are variations of green, for example,while all Thalys routes are a shade of the rolling stock’s distinctive maroon. I find it particularly interesting how the initially homogeneous colours become more mixed the further from Paris you get, especially towards Marseille, where lines from all over France begin to converge towards their final destination.

It’s interesting to note that the equivalent diagram in America would consist of one route – the Acela Express from New York to Washington, DC – and even that barely qualifies as “high speed”. Fast by American standards, maybe…

But do note that these trains do not necessarily travel at their maximum speed (up to 300km/ per hour or 185 miles/hour) on all the routes shown. To attain these speeds, the trains have to run on specially-built tracks, which currently are only on the highest density parts of the system. However, all these routes use TGV/Eurostar/Thalys/ICE rolling stock, which is the criterion for inclusion on this diagram.

My favourite parts of the diagram include the grand loop around Paris to the east, the complex interplay of routes around Lille, and the subtle inclusion of the Winter routes to the French Alps without having to accord them an entire route from start to finish: more complexity is not what this diagram needs!

As always, comments are always welcome!

Large JPG Preview of TGV Map Zoomable On-line Preview of TGV Map

Update: March 3rd, 2011: New version of the diagram with a new route added from Melun to Marseille (Don’t know how I missed that one!). Routes from Le Havre to Strasbourg and Cherbourg to Dijon were deleted, as these “experimental” (and poorly patronised) routes stopped running in December 2010. Winter services to Evian and Saint-Gervais also added. Finally, the station names have been made a little larger.

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Project: European E-Road System as a Subway Diagram

E-Road Map

Buy a poster on Society6!

Interstate System? Europe laughs at your petty Interstate System, America. In 1975, the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Economic Commission for Europe ratified a document outlining international traffic arteries through Europe and beyond. Commonly known as E-Roads, these highways criss-cross Europe in much the same way that the Interstate system does the United States, but with even more roads and even longer routes.

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