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World train map annoys pretty much everyone

train map

(Image credit: Penguin)

A map of the world marked out with a London tube map-style guide to the cities that have Metro systems has managed to annoy pretty much everyone on Twitter. The map was posted on Twitter by 'the master of satire', with the caption "Imagine one day having this train map," and has since been picked apart by Twitter users, who all seem annoyed by it for different reasons. 

Many were irritated by the African section of the map. The version shared online shows just a few cities, with the links from Algiers to Lagos and further down the continent shown as "under construction" (an updated version is above, more on that later). It seems as maps and posters go, this one is more controversial than most – see our favourite poster designs for some slightly less divisive examples.

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Others were irked by the placement of cities on the map, which shows Lisbon as just a stop away from South America. One user even tried to map out how the map would look on Google Maps. It didn't go too well.

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However, most of these irritated posters have missed the point of the map, which according to its designer, Mark Ovenden, was never designed to represent actual connections between places. It features in his book Transit Maps of the World (it was originally made in 2002 for the book Metro Maps of the World) and was meant as a "whimsical way to illustrate the cities in the world that had a rapid transit system".

"The graphic iconography was purely inspired by the design of the London Underground diagram, originally created by Harry Beck in the early 1930s," Ovenden told Creative Bloq. "The shape of Beck's London Underground map deliberately exaggerated the central area where there are lots of stations in order to make it more legible and fit in the text of the station names. My design was approved by Transport for London and executed by the chap who updates the London Tube diagram, Alan Foale.

"Beck's diagram is famously not geographically accurate and neither was the intention of my design," continues Ovenden. "...there was no intention whatsoever of my light-hearted design being a comment on cities or countries which did not have metro-like systems at that time." 

Ovenden was surprised to see his design attracting such attention on Twitter, and replied to some of the comments explaining the context of the map. 

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"Many people posting on Twitter have understood the original intention (and some expressed interest in the book), but some people have taken it as a genuine proposal for actual rail links, which would of course be impossible across oceans, or been offended by the lack of ’stations’ in Africa or India," says Ovenden. He also notes he is "absolutely mortified" if his map has caused offence.

You can buy Ovenden's book on Amazon or purchase the 2008 version of the map as a poster via the London Transport Museum.

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Rosie Hilder

Rosie Hilder is operations editor of Creative Bloq. She previously worked on Computer Arts and 3D World magazines.