Tube Challenge!

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Want to visit all of London’s 270-odd tube stations in a day? Being on the London Underground for an entire day will be many people’s idea of hell, but for some, it is the practical execution of a tricky mathematical problem and a chance to bag yourself a Guinness World Record. Tube Challengers normally keep their route secret, but a 2009 challenge route was made into an artwork. Information Capital co-author Oliver Uberti took the published route and created this map (full-size version here) which includes both sections travelling on the tube itself, and runs between certain key stations. By the looks of thing, challengers get very used to passing through King’s Cross at various angles (middle right of the map).

The time taken for the 2009 challenge, as shown here was 16 hours and 44 minutes. Since then, many more attempts have been made, and the time is now down to 16 hours and 20 minutes. This is despite one particular station, Kensington (Olympia), being particularly difficult to travel to (or from) by tube. The optimum route is probably slightly different to that shown here, also your success will depend on how fast you run the sections between lines, and, most key of all, how many delays and disruptions appear on the ageing network (some signalling systems on the tube are over 100 years old!)

I like Oliver’s minimal use of colour, and simple, clear design, adapting the famous “Beck” tube map to show routes, not lines. The stripped back map emphasises the only two things that you are going to spend 16+ hours doing should you accept the challenge – sitting on tube trains, and running.


Excerpted from the Information Capital website and featured today on the BBC News Magazine.

See more maps featured on Mapping London