London’s long-delayed 24 hour ‘Night Tube’ is to start this August, almost a year later than former Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London planned.
First announced in 2013 by Mr Johnson and then Tube boss Mike Brown, now TfL Commissioner, the service was due to start last September.
However the launch date was announced without first securing a deal with Tube unions who subsequently held a series of strikes over what they claimed was an adverse and unfair impact on their members caused by the need to work later shifts.
TfL has spent much of the past year in discussions with the unions and both sides have agreed a new pay deal to address union and workers’ concerns.
That deal came too late for the service to launch during Mr Johnson’s mayoralty and today his successor, Sadiq Khan, was the one confirming the revised start date.
Mr Khan says the first services will run from 19 August on the Central and Victoria lines followed by the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines in the autumn.
London’s new mayor said: “The Night Tube is absolutely vital to my plans to support and grow London’s night time economy – creating more jobs and opportunities for all Londoners. The constant delays under the previous Mayor let Londoners down badly.
“I have made getting the Night Tube up and running a priority, and London Underground has now confirmed that services on the first two lines will launch on 19 August.”
City Hall predicts the service could boost London’s night-time economy by up to £360 million thanks to the greater ease and lower costs of getting home after a night out.
Transport Commissioner Mike Brown, said: “It is good news for London that the first ever all-night Tube service will be ready on 19 August.
“More than half a million people use the Tube after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and the introduction of the Night Tube, which will support London’s businesses and jobs, is a historic step in our modernisation of the Underground and our work to support London’s economic growth.”
Responding to the mayor’s comments, Conservative Assembly Member and transport spokesman, Keith Prince, said: “It is disappointing that the Mayor, who had a chance to be magnanimous and thank his predecessor for all the work he did to make the Night Tube happen, has instead chosen to attack him.
“Given Sadiq Khan’s union paymasters have already delayed the launch of the Night Tube by 11 months, it’s no surprise that he’s trying to blame Boris Johnson.
“It’s good news that Londoners will finally see the launch of two lines in August, but we need to know when the remaining lines will finally see twenty-four hour operation and I’ll be seeking assurances that the Mayor won’t be trying to buy off the unions with more of Londoners’ hard-earned money.”
Business leaders have welcomed today’s news.
Sue Terpilowski OBE, London Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We are delighted that a partial Night tube will kick-off in August this year. It has been a long time coming but small businesses will see significant benefits, particularly in the tourism sector.
“We would like to have seen a full roll out on the Piccadilly, Jubilee and Northern Lines all in one fell swoop and hope that TfL and the Unions can agree to a swift unveiling on other lines so that London can truly see the full benefits of a 24 hour weekend tube service.”
Meanwhile Colin Staybridge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “A 24 hour underground network will underpin the growth of our city and is a sign of confidence in London’s future.
“Thousands of existing jobs will be supported by tis development – and many thousands more created – this is all great news for the capital’s economy. The swift commencement of the night tube was one of the 20 key suggestions the LCCI made in its manifesto for a new mayor, “Towards a Greater London”.”