BIG DEBATE: 24-hour weekend tube services


- Credit: Archant

Transport for London (TfL) recently announced plans for a 24-hour weekend tube trains from next September, with six services to run every hour across the Jubilee, Victoria and most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines.

Festus Akinbusoye

Festus Akinbusoye - Credit: Archant

Transport for London (TfL) says the move would support almost 2,000 jobs, but is it really a good idea in practice?

Festus Akinbusoye, founder of the Newham Conservatives Business Club and Chris Rice, a District line driver and member of the RMT’s East Ham Branch argue the cases for and against.


Festus Akinbusoye, founder of Newham Conservatives Business Club

Chris Rice

Chris Rice - Credit: Archant


Good news. A 24-hour Underground service is coming to a Tube station near you.

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Sadly, it will not begin until September 2015 and it will only be on weekends.

However, and for now, this is a positive step in the right direction towards an economy that means business.

More and more of us in London are using the Tube late at night. The number of late night Underground Tube journeys have risen at twice the rate of daytime journeys since 2000.

Newham is also set to benefit from the ‘Night Tube’ service with the inclusion of the Jubilee Line.

But it is astonishing that we are just getting here now.

New York is truly the city that never sleeps.

It has had a full 24-hour train service since 1904 when its first train started running from Lower Manhattan to the Bronx.

Copenhagen and Tokyo also run a 24-hour service.

For a city with London’s global economic influence, population and industry – September 2015 will mark an epochal moment in our transportation history.

Further on the benefits of this new service, evidence suggest that a sizable population of Newham’s working residents work outside the borough and a number of these rely on night time public transport.

As an employer, I have colleagues who work near Heathrow but live here in Newham.

Since getting home at night after a late shift requires a four-hour bus ride home, one can see how this new service will benefit such hard working people at weekends.

On another positive note, even the Trade Unions are in favour of this.

Christmas must be arriving early in 2015 – surely!

I look forward to the day when we can have a 24/7 Underground Tube service in London, but until then, just the weekends will have to do for now.


Chris Rice

District line driver and member of the RMT’s East Ham Branch


The “Night Tube” proposal will involve 24-hour running of trains on five Underground lines from August 2015.

The RMT are not in principle opposed to a 24-hour running of Tube services, however, we do have some genuine concerns which have not yet been addressed.

Firstly, is there an actual need for the enhanced service at all?

There remains a strong suspicion that the announcement was a political ploy designed to take attention away from the massive cuts being announced on the Underground under the “Fit for the Future” proposals.

In any case, London already has a well established 24-hour bus and night-bus network.

It is not clear whether running the very limited tube service proposed, a maximum of six trains an hour, will be useful or cost effective.

Secondly, with the extensive cuts to station staffing levels currently being proposed by management, will stations – and supporting roles – be adequately manned to guarantee the safety and comfort of the travelling public?

By the time the Night Tube comes into operation, all ticket offices have been scheduled for closure with the loss of more than 1,000 front-line staff.

We are concerned this may not offer the levels of service the public require.

Finally, there is the question of how the network will be maintained under the new plans.

Currently, maintenance work on trains and infrastructure is mainly carried out after traffic hours, in a short time-window of a few hours between the last train at night and the first train in the morning.

With the removal of this window, especially on Saturday nights – the busiest night for maintenance work – can the network be adequately maintained to ensure safety?

These and many other questions remain to be answered.

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