I've seen criticism of Beck's famous Tube map as geographically misleading, but it would be hard to be even approximately geographically accurate without eating up a LOT of space.As to his map being the first of its sort of schematic map, I think that one can test that hypothesis by looking at maps of urban-rail systems of various cities over the years. Someone might have already done that, but I'd have to do a lot of searching to find out.In any case, I found someone's work on automatic drawing of rail-network schematic maps, Martin Nöllenburg's publications; his master's thesis was "Automated drawing of metro maps". However, he had not published his source code, though I think that it might be possible to develop a passable imitation of it.
It just so happens that Damien Merrick, Tim Dwyer and I have a paper being presented at ISVC in dec on metromap layout. It is a much simpler algorithm than Nöllenburg's, but which produces compelling layouts. There is an implementation in 2geom.org in src/2geom/toys/fitterThe source seems to have bitrotted slightly, I'll look at it on the weekend. It is much much faster (real time vs hours), though given the time to make a new metro line, performance may not matter ;) It may end up in inkscape soon.Here is the output from the london rail network.
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