Circular tube maps are appearing at some London Underground stations as part of an advertising campaign from a phone company promoting a circle feature on their new phones.

The temporary redesign champions the new Circle to Search with Google feature – a new feature on the Samsung Galaxy S24 smartphone, where users can search for anything shown on their phone screen without switching apps. Yes, it’s an advert, but also one that’s a bit playful with an iconic element of the London Underground and at least the service being promoted has a suitable tie-in with the way its been promoted on the tube.

While not replacing the current Tube map, it shows all 11 London Underground lines, and also temporarily shows the Circle line as the ‘Circle to Search’ line.

A few interesting things to note:

  • The Elizabeth line, DLR and London Overground aren’t included in the map.
  • The Cable Car has been included in the label but not on the map and isn’t carrying the IFS Cloud branding.
  • The Green Park tube station interchange accurately shows the long gap between the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines.

As part of a two-week promotional, the limited-edition map will be on display on Circle line platforms at five stations:

  • Blackfriars
  • King’s Cross
  • Liverpool Street
  • Paddington
  • Westminster

At Kings Cross station, the advertising takeover will be the largest of its kind, reaching everyone who travels through the station over the next two weeks. The two glass entrances at Victoria Underground station will also be creatively wrapped with the limited-edition map, as well as feature bespoke roundels highlighting the Circle to Search line to further promote the partnership.

It’s not the first time the tube map has been turned into circles, as there have been previous unofficial variants, notably by mapping expert Maxwell Roberts, and even way back to the Paris Metro in 1936.

While some maps on platforms will be changed to this limited-edition design, there will still be traditional Harry Beck maps available in the station and in-train announcements, announcements within the stations and staff on platforms will continue to help customers should they require it.

Although this is a commercial promotion reimaging the tube map, what if it turns out that people prefer the circular version? Remember that Harry Beck’s famous map was initially a short trial run, and it was almost a surprise to the transport boses that the public liked the “circuit diagram” layout which is today such a classic.

In a hundred years, could people celebrate the centenary of the much-loved circular tube map?


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  1. AC says:

    No we won’t celebrate this in a hundred years as it’s not a useful map. It neither shows clearly where things are or how to get from one location to another.

    • phild says:

      It shows how to get from one location to another just the same as the ‘Beck-inspired’ version. The linkages are all correct, just displayed differently to how you expect it to look (being heavily influenced, naturally, by what has been for a long time).

    • Mike says:

      It is confusing and frustrating to try use.
      I was in London yesterday, it is clear it’s about the advertising money!!

  2. Julian (aged 12) says:

    I think that, although I dislike the circularity and compact-ness of it, it is a decent map as it does not include the extremely confusing Overground as well as the DLR, Elizebeth Line, the Trams (I love the Trams) or the Cable Car. I doubt that this will be a permanent map as it is not one of those pocket maps and is only in 5 stations at the moment. I also think that it is a basis for underground maps across the world (except in the US) and so when they see that their first reaction will be “What is that?!”. I think this is for the best.

    • Natalie says:

      It’s a temporary map for a fortnight and doesn’t replace the usual map.

    • Kim T says:

      As someone who uses the DLR and Elizabeth line regularly, and the Jubilee and Overground line at other times, it’s basically missing 3 of the 4 lines I use. That makes it terrible from the very start.

  3. Peter Gresswell says:

    The current so-called Tube map bears almost no resemblance to Beck’s original. It contains too many non-Tube lines, too many different symbols and too many irrational design decisions (look at the lines around Paddington if you don’t know what I mean). It needs rethinking, rationalising and simplifying. That’s what Beck would do.

  4. Scott says:

    No, leave it alone, I personally do not like it! The existing map is perfectly fine!! Stop changing everything!!! Lol

  5. Malcolm Hartney says:

    I agree with most other posters that this design is too confusing. I vote to retain the BECK design.

  6. Mike Jones says:

    Ian, stop being such a poster boy for TfL. You’ve got much more to offer, with your entertaining and informative posts.

    • LK says:

      Or, alternatively, Ian could continue to inform on a range of topics as a public service and because he loves doing so.

      For free

  7. Jim says:

    Are these posters available to buy?

    • Julian (Aged 12) says:

      No, those posters are available to be photographed in 5 different stations, Paddington, Blackfriars and 3 others that I can’t remember the name of.

  8. anne reynolds says:

    leave the map in the harry beck design its worked Brilliantly since the 1930s. this is terrible theres a reason most of the metro systems around the world adopted the curent map. ever heard the saying if its not broken don’t fix it.

  9. Hazel Morgan says:

    Agree with Anne Reynolds. Alright as a promo, but if it ain’t broke…

  10. Adrian says:

    I love it 🙂. It should be shown at every tube station. Show the traditional one as well if you like but the circular one looks much cleaner and tidier.

    • Julian (Aged 12) says:

      No, these are trying to advertise “Circle to Search” and so everything else is smushed around the outside. It doesn’t even have room for Overground etc.

  11. Rob says:

    It’s a gimmick. It won’t last long!

  12. Siobhan says:

    It’s awful, confusing, would really hope that’s not celebrated in a 100 years

  13. Virginia says:

    It’s interesting as an illustration. But I saw it at Kings Cross and had no desire to approach it as a map. It makes my head spin! I need the “shortest distance between two point is a line” map. I’m perfectly capable of going in circles and getting no where without the help of a circlar map

  14. Bill Wood says:

    Are these versions available to purchase?
    Would love to buy one or two!


  15. Doris Holm says:

    I leave in Greenwich area and where is the DLR from Woolwich to Stratford the new map is shit sorry for me to say it but is true.

  16. Leo says:

    Horrible 🤢

  17. Jonathan Gibson says:

    Nothing like confusing the tourists from across the pond! Lol.

  18. anyotherbizniz says:

    It is,in itself, quite beautiful. But as a practical map of the tube, it is quite useless.

  19. KenB says:

    Pin it on a dart board. Three darts and head for the station a dart is closest to.

  20. Peter D says:

    I think people are missing the point: this poster is an advertising campaign for a Samsung phone. The clever media buyers seemed to have ‘persuaded’ TfL (via a nice cash bundle) to allow the poster to be displayed on platforms to look like an official tube map.

    It’s very clever marketing as sites such as Ian’s are displaying the map as editorial content, thus amplifying the media spend of the actual ad/map placement.

  21. Jonathan in London says:

    So Heathrow is just across the river from Clapham. Who knew?

  22. Krista says:

    There needs to be one that DOES include all the London Connections provided by the overground lines.They may be confusing to new tourists and disliked by some but they are essential for those of us not close enough to a tube station. Otherwise I rather like the cirular format.

  23. Ian Buck says:

    Why do TfL keep on trying to confuse the passengers. The current Beck style map does not need changing. If it is just an advertising gimmick it is doomed to failure, about as useful as naming stations after football players and putting “This Is Croydon” signs at Norwood Junction when it is not.

  24. Simon says:

    Some of the comments are hilarious! This is a (paid for) advert! They get paid for it. That money goes into the coffers to pay for the running of the service! No one moans about adverts anywhere else, why s this different!

    It’s not a replacement for the much loved current map – ITS AN ADVERT!!!!

    Get over it! 🙂

  25. Alex says:

    Literally no one reads things properly, do they?

    Interesting and aesthetically pleasing!

    PS the Green Park thing you mention is done several times, so I don’t think it’s representative in the way you suggest here…

  26. Nic Maennling says:

    This is part of the same disease of changing names just for the sake of. Has anyone complained about not understanding the usual one ? Do not do this.


    Why? It it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  28. Colin says:

    Many seem to be getting the wrong end of the stick over this.

    Taking a different tack, I would suggest it is not that effective as an advert. Excepting Ian’s article kind of makes up for this.

    Having heard of the circular map, and not knowing its origins. We studied one for more than a couple of minutes at King’s Cross. Decided it was somewhat confusing, certainly didn’t add anything to the traditional map and moved on. Never clocking in the process that it was an advertisement!

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