London’s iconic Tube map getting an update with new names, colors

A new London Overground network map which was unveiled by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan during a visit to Highbury and Islington underground station, north London, to announce that London Overground services will be split into separate lines, which will (Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)

Taking the trains in London is almost a necessity when traveling in the United Kingdom’s capital city. 

And for anyone who passes through the city and uses public transportation, they can look to London’s iconic Tube map to figure out where to go. 

But for the past few years, there's been something not quite right about the map originally designed by Harry Beck in 1933 — a collection of orange train lines, mostly orbiting the inner city, known as the London Overground. 

They are like interlopers on the carefully crafted and easy-to-navigate map. 

Yes, it's been confusing for Londoners too. 

But now, the map will be getting an update as London Mayor Sadiq Khan hopes to bring some clarity to the suburban rail network that was established in 2007. 

"Giving each of the Overground lines distinct colors and identities will make it simpler and easier for passengers to get around," Khan said Thursday. "In re-imagining London’s tube map, we are also honoring and celebrating different parts of London’s unique local history and culture." 

The six names and colors will be:

  • Lioness: This line runs through Wembley Stadium in north London and honors the recent achievements of the England women's soccer team. It will be shown as double yellow lines on the map.
  • Mildmay: The name honors a small charitable hospital in east London that played a crucial role caring for those with HIV/Aids in the early days of the illness in the 1980s. It will be shown as double blue lines on the map.
  • Windrush: This line commemorates the ship that landed near London in 1948, carrying more than 800 passengers from the Caribbean to new lives in Britain. A number of the stations on the line have historic Black communities, such as Peckham Rye and West Croydon. It will be shown as double red lines on the map.
  • Weaver: This line runs from the heart of the financial district in Liverpool Street to places such as Spitalfields, Bethnal Green and Hackney, where the textile trade blossomed. It will be shown with double maroon lines on the map.
  • Suffragette: The name celebrates the role of the working-class movement in the east of the city in the fight for women's rights. The line runs to Barking, home of the longest surviving suffragette Annie Huggett, who died at the age of 103 in 1996. It will be shown with double green lines on the map.
  • Liberty: The name celebrates the eternal freedoms of the city and goes through Havering, which has historically had more self-governance than other parts of London. It will be shown with double grey lines on the map.

Transport for London expects the full rebranding to be completed by the end of the year. It will include an updated Tube map and station signs as well as the rerecording of public address announcements. 

Last year, Transport for London changed the name of Bond Street tube station to Burberry Street for a week as part of a sponsorship deal, drawing widespread criticism. Detractors said the temporary name change, along with signage in blue instead of London underground red, caused confusion for visitors. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.