This is my attempt at improving the Sydney Trains network map whilst maintaining most of the original design language, as well as incorporating the future Sydney Metro Network. This is my first completed attempt at drawing a transit map. It’s the one of my home city, and one whose current iteration frustrates me.
My unoffical map features the recently announced proposed update to the T2 and T5 Lines terminus being moved to Leppington.
It should be noted that I took a lot of advice and inspiration from transitmaps.net – A very informative blog that looks into transit map designs from all over the world. (It’s editor having quite a bit to say about Sydney Trains Network map himself.)
As explained in great detail but also very succinctly in this post by transitmaps.net, there were a number of issues in the general design of the first iteration of the “Sydney Trains Network Map” published in 2013. For those not familiar, “Sydney Trains” was a huge rebranding of the transport network in New South Wales. Originally called “CityRail”, the rebranding involved splitting suburban and intercity operations into two different organisations; Sydney Trains and NSWTrainlink. (Suburban and intercity respectively.)
The Aim –
To create a clearer, evenly spaced, and somewhat more geographically accurate transit map.
The current map has a number of lines with strange bends and odd alignments, distorting the geography of Sydney quite a bit. The past two iterations of the network map always involved heavy distortions of Sydney’s geography, involving heavy modifications to Sydney’s shorelines to fit the lines.
The entire T3 Bankstown Line, and the T1 and T5 lines between Blacktown and Parramatta have unnecessary bends which I’ve opted to correct. There are also some very big gaps between some of the stations. I can somewhat understand some are purposefully placed as such for clearer station labeling, but it’s incredibly strange looking having a small cluster of labels and big gaps around them.
The T4 Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line is far from a straight vertical line. In the real world turns notably horizontal between Kograh and Oatley, and so my version aims to reflect that, and includes the line passing over the George’s River.
I do also believe I’ve tidied up the mess of labels, lines and interchanges in this area of the map by creating more parallel lines as well as between spacing of the labels. I feel the idea of increased font sizes for labels at terminus stations were good at heart, but incredibly unappealing to look at. Direct on-map labeling of lines with both alphanumeric line identifier (T1) with line name (North Shore, Northern and Western Line) made the map look rather clunky and visually unappealing so I’ve omitted them. The distinct colours of the lines and the key in the bottom left corner should be enough for people to follow the map.
It does also seem like the original designer was constrained by having both northernmost and southernmost termini on a fixed horizontal axis. That did not help with maintaining an accurate geographical representation of the network.
Sydney Metro –
I am assuming that changing modes between the Sydney Metro and Sydney Trains will be a near seamless experience, and not require any transfers through gates, and thus can belong on the same map. (i.e. have a common fare rules, unlike the Light Rail system currently in place.)
I was internally debating the choice of line colour, as well as how to label the line, as I could not find a definite ruling on these issues. The mock-ups and renders of the new stations have varied, and station indicator boards are often too hard to make out. (Some have had the old yellow/white text on blue background, others appear to be the updated white-grey with dark-purple(?) labeling.) One thing that has been mostly consistent in renderings is the Metro logo, which features a white-bordered turquoise circle with a sharp “M”, which I assume stands for ‘Metro’. This would be consistent with current transport mode labeling involving a single letter in a solid colour roundel.
The current line-colour on the Sydney Metro website has the line as a lime-green for Metro Northwest, whilst the Metro City and Southwest is of a similar turquoise colour as the Metro logo. I chose against the lime-green as I fear it would be too similar to the T2 line, which is also a shade of green. So for the moment, I have left the line-colour purple. It is the only mainstream colour not currently used anywhere on TfNSW’s rail network.
Cherrybrook Station is also a good distance from Epping Station (it lies well beyond even Pennant Hills Station) and hence the vast distance between the two. It should be noted that the same thinking was used for Holsworthy and Glenfield on the T2 Line.
Side note: If a Sydney University Station were built instead of the current plan of a Waterloo alignment as part of the City and Southwest Line, it would have made designing a map considerably more difficult.
Known Issues –
The Epping-Chatswood link has very tightly arranged and horizontal station labels, inconsistent with the rest of the map. However this is the neatest way I could come up with without overlapping other labels or lines whilst maintaining relatively even spacing. It also doesn’t reflect the actual path of the track, which is absolutely not a straight line in the real world. There are also a dotted horizontal line going through it. =/
The “City Circle”
I decided to remove this grey circle around what is known to many (and I believe officially) as The City Circle. This area encompassed seven stations that fall under “City”, which meant one could exit and/or enter from any of these seven stations with the one paper ticket. (I have fond memories of going to the person at the ticket window and asking for a “Return – Concession to The City please.”) Whether or not this geographically defined area will still be relevant… I’m not sure. “City” is no longer an option on the Sydney Trains fare calculator.
The font I use predominately in this is not the same font used by TfNSW. Instead, I am using Myriad Pro, which as I know is a very common font, but it has a mostly friendly face to it, and I dislike the ‘o’s. in Eastwood for some reason. Feels like they’re glaring at me.
My Sydney Trains map declutters the current TfNSW map with unnecessary labeling and straightening many of the bends in some of the lines. The overall goal was to achieve a clearer, more easier to approach map that also fits on an A4 page.