Thursday 27 June 2019

Map! - Bucking The Trend

I went out last night, going to the Fact to see a documentary about Deep Space Nine with Robert because I am the coolest.  On the train home I took the small sideways seat that's tucked in the back of the carriage because it's a good spot to take when you're a lone traveler only going a couple of stops.  It left me staring at the Merseyrail map - sorry, the Local Rail Network Map as it is now called.

I became fixated on one particular quadrant of the map, over on the right, for the simple reason that it's awful.  It's the spot on the West Coast Main Line where the branch via Buckshaw Parkway branches off to head towards Bolton, and it looks like this.

For one thing, it's so random, you could quite easily do without it.  That drop away from beneath Leyland is the entire extent of the line - there's not even a station on it before it vanishes off the edge of the map.  Secondly, it's at a weird angle.  For some reason, the designers have put it at sixty degrees from the vertical.  The traditional rule of transit maps is forty-five degree diagonals and it's a rule the Merseytravel map follows, with a single exception: the line from Wigan to Huyton.  You can see the top of it there.

I'm not sure why the designers went with sixty degrees here.  There's no need for geographical accuracy, because it's a barely existent spur.  It never even used to be shown on the map.  (Besides, the line pulls away from the main line in a gentle curve).  The other problem is its closest diagonal is a forty-five degree angle.  The Wigan-Southport line is a straight diagonal and it would be so much more pleasing if the Buckshaw line followed it.  Instead, it drifts.  I've marked it up with a series of arrows to show you what I mean.  Each of these lines is the same length.

Do you see what I mean?  It sort of wanders away.  Instead of paralleling the Wigan line (and the Manchester line below it) it goes off. 

It's a tiny detail but I couldn't stop staring at it.  It's attention grabbing in the worst way.  One tiny fix and I wouldn't have noticed it.  Instead it's unnecessary ugliness.

Unless of course I'm overthinking things again and nobody else cares.  This is also possible.

1 comment:

David said...

Truly jarring. Trainee/last minute job. Did Harry Beck die in vain?