Night Tube London: Which lines are resuming services and what times will they run?

Underground partially revives late-running trains on Fridays and Saturdays after calls from activists for restoration to protect women travelling home

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 15 October 2021 12:09
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<p>The Night Tube opened to much fanfare in 2016 but had to be closed because of the pandemic </p>

The Night Tube opened to much fanfare in 2016 but had to be closed because of the pandemic

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that the Underground’s weekend Night Tube service will resume at the end of next month - but only on two lines.

As of Saturday 27 November, the mayor said, the Victoria and Central lines will resume operating a 24-hour service on Friday and Saturday nights from 12.30am to 5.30am, after which early-morning trains take over.

Introduced by Mr Khan and Transport for London (TfL) in August 2016, the Night Tube was intended to allow more weekend revellers and evening workers to return home safely via the Tube, rather than having to linger on the capital’s streets after dark waiting for cabs and buses.

But the service had to be discontinued when the first national lockdown was commenced in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and it has not returned before now because of a driver shortage caused by the coronavirus hindering training and by drawn-out negotiations with the RMT union over new rosters.

Of the partial reopening, Mr 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.”

As for when the Night Tube might resume on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, an exact date could not be given but TfL said the service would return “as soon as practicable”.

London Underground has faced renewed pressure in recent weeks to reopen the Night Tube after more than 140,000 people signed a petition organised by activist Ella Watson demanding its restoration to protect women in the wake of the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

Responding to the news of her success, Ms Watson told the BBC: “This is really positive. It’s a great start to enhancing women’s safety but we need to ensure that more lines open across the whole capital.

“The goal of the petition was to reinstate the Night Tube for everyone, whether they’re on the Northern line or the Jubilee, so I’m not ready to give up the campaign just yet.”

Joining Ms Watson in calling for all lines to be made available was Nickie Aiken, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, who revealed she had written to Mr Khan demanding as much, saying it was “very important for women’s safety” and pointing out that 60 per cent of workers in London’s bars, clubs and restaurants are women.

West End business leaders also broadly welcomed the Night Tube’s return, with Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, telling the Evening Standard: “With a focus on vulnerability, and the safety of women at night, and thousands of night workers within London we must push to get the full service established at the earliest opportunity and open London’s late night economy fully to the public.”

Not entirely satisfied, however, was Simon Thomas, chief executive of Leicester Square’s Hippodrome casino, who commented: “You wait months for one Night Tube to arrive and only half the service turns up.

“Business owners are working all hours to get the West End back on its feet and women travellers demand additional protection for their evening journeys. It’s time to listen to the people who live and work in the West End and reinstate the full night time tube service immediately.”

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, has meanwhile called for an agreement with drivers on the rosters question that doesn’t “leave staff burnt out and exposed to intolerable pressures”, describing the pre-pandemic Night Tube as “a magnet for violent, abusive and anti-social behaviour” where the antics of drunken passengers placed an unwelcome additional strain on Underground employees.

Unlike the reluctant return to the morning rush hour, Underground passenger numbers are already back up to 80 per cent of their pre-pandemic norm on Friday and Saturday nights, compared with just 55 per cent during the week.

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