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Fury over 'woke' changes to London's beloved Tube Line map

Sarah Pollok,
Publish Date
Mon, 19 Feb 2024, 3:34PM
The London Overground Network will undergo a rebrand. Photo / 123rf
The London Overground Network will undergo a rebrand. Photo / 123rf

Fury over 'woke' changes to London's beloved Tube Line map

Sarah Pollok,
Publish Date
Mon, 19 Feb 2024, 3:34PM

Plans to majorly change London’s Tube map have been criticised as unnecessarily expensive “virtue signalling nonsense” by the public and major politicians.

Few things are more synonymous with London than its world-famous Tube map.

However, the old map will be gone by the end of the year as Transport for London (TfL) rolls out an £8 million ($16.45m) rebrand.

The Underground Network (which consists of lines like Piccadilly, Victoria and most recently, Elizabeth), is a relatively simple map of routes with different colours and names that carry people around the city.

The London Tube map. Image / supplied
The London Tube map. Image / supplied

The issue, according to London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is the Overground Network; a suburban rail network established in 2007. Despite carrying three million passengers every week, this network of surface lines has just one colour (orange) and one name (‘The Overground’).

“Giving each of the Overground lines distinct colours and identities will make it simpler and easier for passengers to get around,” Khan said, adding that the opportunity to rebrand was also an opportunity to celebrate London’s culture and past.

Line names will reference Britain’s football team, London’s cultural diversity, the fight against HIV/Aids and gender equality.

Politicians slam new names

Not everyone is pleased about the significant name choices.

With Labour’s Khan running for re-election this year, his opponent from the Conservative Party wasted no time critiquing the changes.

Susan Hall told the Daily Mail: “1000 people have been killed under his mayoralty, and yet Sadiq Khan is only interested in this virtue signalling nonsense”.

Hall added that Khan should focus more on solving critical issues in the city such as crime.

Bob Blackman, a Conservative MP added that the names were “another woke idea from a mayor who becomes more ridiculous every day”.

Public mixed about the new project

TfL shared a post on Facebook at the weekend about the new names and almost 1500 people commented their thoughts.

While some referred to the names as ‘woke’ and the project as ‘unnecessary’, many defended the idea.

“I like the new names for the stations makes is a lot easier for people,” one person wrote.

“I like it! Finally people will understand what part of the Overground I live on,” another added.

Some suggested TfL should have considered common nicknames people created for certain lines, with several referring to the Barking to Gospel Oak line (which will be named the Suffragette Line) as ‘The Goblin Line’.

“We already have original or naturally applied names. East London, North London and Goblin lines. Just sort the rest with geographically appropriate names,” one person commented.

Others complained that the money could have gone towards something better.

“Names are fine it’s just the expense that’s the problem. There’s much better things that this money could have been spent on,” one person wrote.

“If the money had been spent on (for example) making travel safer that would have been much better,” another added.

However, one person suggested the cost was minimal in the grand scheme of things.

“It will be so useful to visitors and casual users to be able to identify the different branches and the cost is a tiny fraction of the operating and maintenance cost of the network,” they wrote.

London Tube new Overground Network lines

The Windrush Line: The red line, running from Islington to South London is named after the ship that brought more than 800 passengers to London from the Caribbean; an event that arguably kicked off Britain’s vibrant multiculturalism.

The Suffragette Line: Named to acknowledge the women’s rights movement, the route was chosen since the longest-surviving Suffragette (103-year-old Annie Hugget) lived nearby.

The Mildmay Line: The double blue lines on the map are named in remembrance of the HIV/Aids crisis of the 1980s, as Mildmay Hospital played a key role in treating the working class.

The Weaver Line: Tracking through Liverpool Street, this double maroon line traces through suburbs where the textile trade historically thrived.

The Liberty Line: According to TfL, this line “celebrates the freedom that is a defining feature of London”, and is marked by double grey lines that run through Havering.

The Lioness Line: Named after the England women’s football team, the double yellow line runs through Wembley Stadium.

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