Boldly going where no tube has before, the Central and Victoria lines made the leap to 24 hour operation on Aug. 19, running throughout the night on Fridays and Saturdays, and will be joined by the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines in the autumn. The night tube initiative has been launched to meet growing demand over the last decade. London is a 24-hour city, and since the turn of the millennium the number of people using the tube on Friday and Saturday nights has risen by 70 percent, with over half of a million passengers travelling after 10pm. It is hoped the extended service will give a major boost to the nighttime economy, and provide a lifeline to London’s struggling nightlife industry (40 percent of the city’s live music venues have closed in the last 10 years), encouraging longer operating hours for a range of entertainment venues and allowing residents from the city’s outskirts to travel to central London for leisure or work with ease. Some restaurants are also looking to extend their opening hours. Many people’s journeys will be cut by 20 minutes, while the length of more long-haul trips could be reduced by up to an hour. Independent research has found that the service could boost the economy by £360 million over 30 years and support 2,000 permanent jobs.
However, as with the night buses the night tube will not see the same frequency of service as during the daytime. On the Central line, trains will run at intervals of about 10 minutes between White City and Leytonstone, and every 20 minutes for stations further outwards (although there will be no service between North Acton and West Ruislip, Loughton and Epping and Woodford and Hainault), while Victoria line trains will run every 10 minutes across the entire line. Come autumn, trains on the Piccadilly line will run every 10 minutes between Cockfosters and Heathrow Terminal Five, with no service between Acton and Uxbridge or on the Heathrow Terminal Four loop. On the Northern line, trains between Morden and Camden Town will depart every eight minutes, and every 15 for trains travelling from Camden Town towards High Barnet and Edgware, with no service between Mill Hill East and Bank branches, while on the Jubilee trains will run every ten minutes across the entire line. Fares across the night tube will be the same as standard off-peak prices during the day, with daily capping on Oyster and contactless cards applying. Day travelcards will be accepted until 4.29am the following day.
Safety has been a particular concern regarding the introduction of the night tube since the plans were announced in mid-2014. However, Transport for London have confirmed staff will be on hand throughout the night, with more than 100 police officers patrolling across the 144 stations that will be operating as part of the night network. The rail operators have also taken steps to reduce the risk of additional noise and disturbance to the areas surrounding tube stations, ensuring station announcements do not cause excessive levels of noise pollution.
While the five lines launching this year remain the only ones with firm start dates, TfL do plan to expand the night service even further. In 2017, some services could operate on the London Overground and may be joined by the DLR by 2021. Once the modernisation programmes currently being implemented are complete, a 24-hour service is planned to be introduced on the Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith and City lines. However, given the number of setbacks and delays already encountered thus far, who knows how long we will have to wait to see the full night tube in all its glory.
Take a look at the night tube map here.