Extending London’s Tube and Overground services for overnight operation needed considerable planning as well as input from the British Transport Police and TfL staff. Almost two years on from its introduction, Peter Brown looks at the processes needed to give Londoners a night-time rail service to be proud of – and a safe one.
Transport for London’s vision for a 24-hour Tube at weekends finally reached fruition on August 19, 2016 when tens of thousands of passengers were conveyed on the Central and Victoria lines. In the first night alone, 50,000 journeys were made.
It was an answer to the growing number of cynics who predicted ‘Night Tube’ would never happen as former London mayor Boris Johnson stood firmly against various demands from trade unions. Transport for London (TfL) management also took a tough stance and eventually an agreement was reached for what was being billed as public transport for the economy of a major world city.
While the disputes raged on, newspapers and news bulletins on radio and television, particularly in the London area, gave much space and time for what had turned into a political issue. However, this article is not the place to pursue the arguments. Night Tube is successfully up and running – and that is what matters to the people in and around the capital.
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Watching the first night by joining passengers using the service was London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who was constantly being updated as the success unveiled itself. Oxford Circus proved to be one of the busiest stations with 6,500 passengers tapping in with their Oyster cards, while Stratford saw 4,250 completing their journeys.
“It’s wonderful that so many thousands of Londoners were able to benefit from a faster and simpler journey home overnight,” the mayor said. “The Night Tube is going to provide a huge boost to our capital and very clearly demonstrates that London is open.
“It was a real pleasure for me to see at first-hand how workers and those who had been out enjoying everything our city has to offer could take advantage of this fantastic new service.”
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