"Discover Japan" Map of Japanese Rail Routes, May 2012
A handsome diagrammatic map of rail services throughout Japan, this one from an issue of the “Discover Japan” magazine (Vol. 21, Issue 4) that seemed to deal mainly with seeing Japan by train.
Without the benefit of a translation for the map’s legend, I’d guess that the thick green lines are Shinkansen lines, blue ones are regional trains and brown lines are local/other services (Update: @suldrew has let me know that it’s Green = Shinkansen, Blue = JR Rail routes, Brown = Other non-JR Rail routes).
Some of the route lines are a little unnecessarily wiggly for my liking, but there’s no doubt that this is a very accomplished piece of map design. Cleverly implemented insets for the greater Tokyo area and other islands make very effective use of the space on the page. I also really like the subtle wave pattern in the ocean/sea areas of the map, and the adorable little icon representing Mount Fuji.
Related: This isometric map of JR West rail services, one of my favourite transit maps ever!
Official Map: Isometric JR West System Map
I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so completely, madly and totally in love with a transit map as I am with this. A giant, sprawling, isometric representation of much of Japan showing JR Group railway lines. The map is produced by the JR West company, and its operating area is shown in full detail within the green area (apart from the heavily urbanised areas around Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, where — wisely — not all stations are shown). Connecting services and routes operated outside the JR West area are also shown, but in less detail — only major stations along the routes are indicated. Shinkansen lines are light blue, JR West main line routes are dark blue (main line routes outside their operating area match the company that operates in that area - red for JR Kyushu, for example), while urban routes seem to follow their established colour-coding.
As can be seen from the two detail images from the area around Osaka, there’s both an English and Japanese version of the map. The Japanese version is arguably more effective because of the in-built ability to set the text vertically, but the English version isn’t half bad either. I particularly like the way the line names have been set to conform to the isometric grid — a very nice design touch.
Our rating: I like to imagine that this is the world map from some incredible railroad-building computer game. 5 stars!
(Source: Official JR West website)
Fantasy Map: United States High Speed Rail System
Submitted by thethingtobomb, who says:
Obviously this potential US High Speed rail system has some layout problems, but the map itself is intriguing. What’s your opinion?
Transit Maps says:
The problem with this map is that it’s based on incredibly optimistic projections of HSR in the United States (I believe the technical term for this is a “pipe dream”). Back in 2009, there was a big push for high-speed rail and it seemed that everyone was getting behind it — hence, all the routes shown here.
Cue the economic downturn and suddenly things don’t look so rosy. HSR is expensive.
Of everything shown here, only the incredibly controversial California High Speed Rail is getting anywhere near construction. If I remember right, Florida explicitly rejected Federal grant money for HSR there, and I know for a fact there’s almost no funding in Oregon.
Of current routes, only the Northeast Corridor is taking baby steps towards becoming a true high-speed corridor: the Acela Express barely qualifies at its highest speed, and there’s plenty of sections of track where it has to operate at slower speeds.
In short, HSR has a long way to go before acceptance and implementation in the United States, meaning maps like this remain strictly in the “fantasy” category.
Design-wise, the map is functional enough, although the font used is pretty ghastly, in my opinion.
Leaving aside the politics and cost for a minute, this is actually a pretty darn nice map. Attractive and informational. Drawing the “Super Express” and “Express” routes as dead straight lines definitely emphasises the idea of speed and direct connections between points. Long Island looks a little weird, though…