Unofficial Map: Rail Transport of the Randstad, the Netherlands
Here’s a submission via the Transit Maps Facebook Page from reader Dave Kramer. This is a beautiful map of NS rail service within the Netherland’s Randstad region: an informal name for the conurbation of the four largest Dutch cities - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht - and the surrounding areas.With a combined population of 7.1 million, it’s one of the largest conurbations in Europe and is serviced by a comprehensive rail system.
Dave points out that the map was created in 2009, so the routes may or may not be totally accurate now (I seem to recall a Sprinter train that ran through Schiphol to Amsterdam when I was there in late 2010, but I may be wrong).
Have we been there? My sole experience with NS trains has been from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal and back again.
What we like: Looks fantastic. A very clean, stylish and oh-so-European diagram. The typography is particularly nice (I can even forgive the 90-degree angled type because it’s handled so deftly). Different levels of service are denoted through use of colour alone - a dangerous approach when considering color-blind users - but there’s enough contrast between those colours for it to work relatively well (I ran the map through a colour-blindness simulator to check this).
What we don’t like: Major hub stations where every train stops could benefit from an “interchange station” style marker, rather than individual dots on each line. This is especially true for all the “Centraal” stations. The final destinations of routes that leave the Randstad are labelled within the route lines themselves, which makes them a little small and hard to read.
Our rating: Excellent. 4 stars!
(Source: Dave Kramer)
Official Map: Rotterdam Metro, The Netherlands
The very best transit diagrams have every element working in harmony to present a cohesive visual message. When even one element is out of place, a map can suffer. When that element is as important as the depiction of the region’s geography, the results can be disastrous, as shown by this map of Rotterdam’s Metro.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: The routes themselves are shown very clearly, with interchange stations and the National Rail system given the right importance. In fact, this would be a quite excellent example of European transit map design if it wasn’t for one thing…
What we don’t like: …the hideous blurry background. Quite possibly the worst attempt at rendering geography on a transit map I’ve seen yet. It’s not realistic, it’s not diagrammatic, it’s just… fuzzy. I can only guess that the reasoning behind this was to make it clear that this is not an accurate to-scale rendering of the landscape, but it just ends up looking indistinct, out of focus, poorly executed and a jarring visual contrast to the clean diagram placed on top of it.
Our rating: A quality diagram poorly let down by a terrible background. Two-and-a-half stars.
(Source: Official RET website)
Unofficial Map: Amsterdam Metro and Railway Connections by Eric Hammink
The simplified rectilinear grid is such a familiar form for transit maps that when we see something that breaks that mould, the results can be visually stunning. That’s certainly the case with this beautiful map from designer Erik Hammink, who uses the natural circular shape of Amsterdam’s canals to great effect.
Have we been there? Yes, although I’ve only used the tram network rather than the Metro service.
What we like: Lovely, minimalist European design, with echoes of 1930s Art Deco transit posters in its stylised, circular rendering of the IJ and the Amsterdam Metro type to the top right of the map. Beautifully clear and easy to read. I especially like the rendering of Amsterdam’s ring of canals, which orients the user perfectly.
What we don’t like: The need to adhere to the radial spoke design form means that some of the curves where routes change direction look a little uneven. The icon for Schiphol airport looks very large and out of character compared to the smaller, more elegant icons for the Metro and rail termini stations. The gradients behind the legends at the top of the map look a little modern and iOS-like compared to the beautiful retro feel the rest of the map has.
Our rating: Stunning work, especially when you also know that Eric has also produced a map of Amsterdam’s dense tram network that appears to fit onto the same radial grid. A true labour of love, and it shows. Four stars.
(Source: Hammink Design website - free download for personal use)