After being suspended because of the pandemic, Transport for London (TfL) has said that the Night Tube is set to make a comeback in time for Christmas.
From 27 November, services will run on the Central and Victoria lines throughout the night – historically two of the busiest routes on the Night Tube network. TfL says the service will ensure more options for customers who need to travel at night either for leisure or for work, while also making journey times shorter and offering safer routes home for women, girls and all Londoners.
It also hopes that it will provide a welcome boost to the night-time economy.
The Night Tube is designed to provide a safe, low crime environment. Over 2,500 police and police community support officers and 500 TfL enforcement officers patrol London’s transport network, while thousands of frontline transport staff are put in place to support customers. All of which is overseen by an extensive CCTV network across the Tube.
The service had been suspended during the pandemic because of absences and to reallocate staff for peak times. The service had also found it difficult to train new drivers during this time.
Now, however, there are also plans to resume services on the other Night Tube routes: the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. These returning services need to be planned around training new drivers as well as complex vital operational and engineering closures.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The reason why I was so keen to be the first Mayor in London’s history to start the Night Tube in 2016 and to restart it now, after the Covid pause, is because I know how important this is to London’s thriving night-time economy, to London’s recovery and to the confidence and safety of everyone travelling home at night, particularly women and girls. I am determined to make our city as safe as possible for all Londoners.
“That’s why I’m delighted to see the return of the Victoria and Central Night Tube lines next month, which will make a huge difference to people travelling around our city at night and making their way home, offering them an additional safe, reliable transport option. I will continue to work with TfL and the Government to do everything we can to bring back the full Night Tube network as soon as possible.”
Nick Dent, London Underground’s director of customer operations, said: “The return of the Night Tube will be a huge boost to the night-time economy and help our customers travel around London at weekends.
“The Tube has played a vital role during the pandemic and will continue to be vital to London’s recovery. We continue to run a regular, orderly and clean service at and will continue to work hard to return the full Night Tube network as soon as possible.”
Union representatives added their own thoughts to the news.
TSSA organising director, Lorraine Ward, said: “Our union welcomes this move. It’s the right thing to do at the right time.
“Clearly we need to get people back safety onto the London Underground because there can be no Covid recovery without our railways playing a major role.
“The people of London need to know they have a fully functioning public transport system there for them when they need it. Reopening these Night Tube lines will not only help boost revenue and the night time economy, but play a vital role in the safety of women, and workers generally, after dark.
“What we need to see now from Government is a meaningful long term financial settlement for London Underground and services across Transport for London which will allow our capital city to thrive as we move out of the shadow of the pandemic.”
General secretary Mick Lynch said, however, the safety of staff was important: “No one has worked harder to ensure a safe environment for women on London Underground than the RMT. While Tube bosses have axed staff and left stations routinely unstaffed, with all of the obvious risks, we have campaigned relentlessly for the front line, physical presence of visible staff on stations and platforms.
“RMT supports the reintroduction of the Night Tube but we know full well that prior to its suspension during the pandemic it was a magnet for violent, abusive and anti-social behaviour. The Mayor and his officials cannot ignore that fact.
“The reintroduction of the service must be thoroughly risk assessed with the involvement of our reps and it is also important that rosters are agreed which don’t leave staff burnt out and exposed to intolerable pressures.
“We warned months ago that slashing two hundred Night Tube Train Driver positions would create a staffing nightmare and London Underground need to start facing up to that reality. “