Putting the rail loop on the map: Vote for your favourite design
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Putting the rail loop on the map: Vote for your favourite design

When the Victorian premier announced a plan to build an underground suburban rail loop linking every major line in Melbourne, it wasn’t only train commuters who were excited.

The $50 billion project also sparked enthusiasm from the city’s cartographers who eagerly took up the challenge of putting the rail loop on the map.

The Age spoke to two hobby cartographers who have designed two very different looking maps of the proposed network. One of our designers has also taken up the challenge.

Vote for your favourite map below.

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The circular geographic map

Adam Mattinson, a spatial analyst and self-confessed “map geek”, said he was inspired by the Moscow Metro Map.

“Amongst cartographers [it] is famous for its circular representation of the loop line,” he said.

“Rather than adding the loop to the current network, I inverted that idea and put the current network to fit in with the loop.”

Mr Mattinson, who has been creating maps for fun since he was age eight, said since Harry Beck’s famous London Underground designs in the 1930s, transit maps had abstracted geography.

“Typically, they don’t allow for circular shapes, particularly when you’re working with a radial network of train lines,” he said.

“Adding this loop element gives an opportunity to shake things up a little, hence, the circles.”

The schematic map

Philip Mallis, a transport planner for Darebin Council who has been reading the Melways since he was in kindergarten, is a fan of Beck’s schematic maps.

These types of maps show nodes and the connections between them instead of being focused on geography. The first is often easier to read, while the latter is helpful for people navigating an unfamiliar area.

Mr Mallis said the proposed loop meant maps no longer needed to be centralised around the CBD or city loop.

He said it was an opportunity to explore the possibility of creating maps similar to those used in London and New York.

“It’s designed to provoke conversation or provoke a different way of looking at transport maps in Melbourne,” he said.

The geographical map

Our designer Jamie Brown has also created a map based on geography.

"Because the current one is familiar, I've based it on that and added the suburban link. It gives a clearer impression of distances," Mr Brown said.

Pick your favourite

Tell us what you think. You can vote for your preferred map here.