TOCs AS v48 May 2021.pdf is a map of the UK rail network showing every station. It is a single page with a nominal size of about 2.4 meters wide and 3.4 meters high.

In Acrobat Reader/Adobe Reader it is possible to zoom in on the map until the text is visible, then smoothly scroll around it to view different parts of the network.

Unfortunately Adobe stopped releasing Acrobat reader for Linux years ago. The last version they released does still run, but it is somewhat of a pain to get it installed on a recent Linux system and it of course hasn't had any security updates in a long time. Running under Wine is possibly a solution, but the last time I tried that I couldn't get it to work.

I have tried a number of other PDF readers, but I find that none of the ones I have tried have been usable with the aforementioned PDF. They either slow to a crawl or display a blurry image with unreadable text.

Do people have any suggestions for the best way to deal with such PDFs under Linux?

  • 1
    You could mention which pdf readers you have tried.
    – Damien
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 9:06

2 Answers 2


I tried zooming and moving around in your PDF file with Xreader, MuPDF, Zathura, Evince, LibreOffice Draw, Chromium, Firefox, GIMP and Okular. The following are the winners of my tests.


For your document Okular was fast enough for me. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move. Use ctrl+ or - to zoom in or out or ctrl and the mouse wheel. You can search for a station with ctrl+f

Chromium (or Chrome)

Same shortcuts as Okular. Although I prefer Firefox, Chromium was really faster for rendering your PDF when zooming in and out.

GIMP (even if it's not a PDF reader)

Note : with GIMP you loose resolution at higher zoom level.

Don't know if GIMP keeps the proportion but it's fast to zoom in and out and to move.

To move easily you can access the Navigation Window from the image menubar through View → Navigation Window, The Navigation Window command opens the navigation window. This allows you to easily navigate through the image, to set zoom levels and to move the visible parts of the image.

It takes some time to open the PDF in GIMP but after that it is fast. GIMP isn't a PDF reader but in this specific case, on my computer it beats the PDF readers that are really slow.

I also converted the PDF to PNG and JPG but with image viewers it was slow too or the proportions where not good.

I think the best way to deal with a large map in a PDF is to find an alternative map in OpenStreetMap.


  • Railways and metro.
  • There is a search box. An example for Kensal Rise :

Kensal Rise

I also find this map : British Railways, An interactive map of Great Britain's rail network.

  • Only railways
  • On mouse over a dot you have basic information.
  • When you click on a station you have detailed information.



I can recommend Foxit Reader for Linux for really big PDFs. Was looking for a PDF Reader which can handle huge architecture plans, and did not found any open source PDF reader which could handle them.

Foxit Reader works well on these PDFs.

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