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Thanks to everyone who has alerted me to this rather wonderful map of the German Intercity rail network, created by a Reddit user known only as “theflyingindonesian”. This is actually something that I thought about tackling after I finished my French TGV network map way back in 2011, so I know how daunting and complex a project this is!
If you’ve never seen the official Deutsche Bahn diagrams for these networks, prepare to be very disappointed. They’re incredibly average pieces of work, with awful “RGB-bright” colours and arcane combinations of dotted and dashed lines to indicate service frequency. They’re also split up into two separate maps — one for EC/IC services, and another for ICE — probably because it would be impossible to work anything out at all if the two maps were combined. I reproduce the EC/IC map here, just so you can see how average it truly is. So right from the start, this new map is a major upgrade.
I particularly like the dead straight trajectory of the lines from Hamburg down to Fulda, and the clear treatment of the potentially difficult and convoluted Rhine-Ruhr area. I also like the way that the routes for trains that pass through major stations get a ghosted-back line to link the routes across the (sometimes very large) station rectangles.
On a map this complex, some labels are going to have to sit across route lines, but I think it’s generally been handled well and everything seems very legible. The route designation lozenges are distributed evenly across the map, and I generally don’t have any problem following a route from end-to-end. I’m not entirely sure about the usefulness of including a “selection” of RE routes: they make the map a bit busier than it needs to be, although perhaps it does help to indicate some gaps in the high-speed rail network.
The colours used for the routes are interesting: they mostly seem to be nicer, less bright versions of the ones on the official map. Which is fine, I guess, but I’d be interested to see a version where colour conveys more meaning. I’m pretty certain that the colours on the official maps are arbitrarily assigned for the sole purpose of keeping similar colours as far apart as possible, so with a little thought a more meaningful purpose could be assigned. Perhaps a trunk-based system like the New York Subway where lines that run along a major corridor get assigned like or similar colours could be employed?
A note: it would appear that many of the apparent typographical errors in the map are actually intentional and meant as some type of in-joke by the author. Make of that what you will!
Our final word: Infinitely superior to DB’s official maps, and quite glorious to look at. 4.5 stars!
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This article first appeared on www.transitmap.net
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