New plans for the London Underground will see services extended to run all night – first at weekends and then during the week.
From 2015, weekend services will run through the night on core parts of the system – initially the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines and sections of the Northern line. However with more people using Oyster cards TfL plans to move staff out of offices out into the stations.
The RMT is resisting the move – which will see the loss of 750 jobs by voluntary redundancy – and has balloted for strike action – the ballot closes in January.
In a statement TfL said, ‘In future…rather than being remote from customers behind closed doors or glass windows, Tube station staff will not be based in ticket offices, but in ticket halls, on gate lines and on platforms, ready and available to give the best personal and face-to-face service to customers.’
London’s population is set to grow from 8.4m today to around 10m by 2030 and an expanded London Underground service is regarded as essential. More frequent trains will be introduced across a wide range of lines, including a 20 per cent increase in capacity on the Northern line next year and further uplifts to the frequency of Jubilee and Victoria line services, to 33 and 36 trains per hour respectively at the busiest times.
Metropolitan line customers are now travelling on a new fleet of air- conditioned trains with open, walk through carriages. These are now being introduced on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines, with the District line to follow shortly.
Says Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, ‘For 150 years the Tube has been the beating heart of London, its tunnels and tracks providing the arteries that have transported millions of people and helped to drive the development and economic growth of our great city.
‘Now it is time to take the Tube to the next level and so for the first time in London’s history, we will provide a regular 24-hour ‘Night Tube’ service at weekends. This will not just boost jobs and our vibrant night-time economy, it will further cement London’s reputation as the best big city on the planet in which to live, work, visit and invest.’
Contactless bank card technology will be introduced next year and wi-fi rolled out to all remaining below-ground stations by the end of 2014, with the exception of four stations that are currently undergoing major upgrade work. However, people remain at the heart of the Tube.
Says Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, ‘People are at the heart of this vision – our customers and staff. My commitment to London is that all Tube stations will continue to be staffed and controlled in future, with more staff visible and available to help customers buy the right ticket, plan their journey and keep them safe and secure.
‘We will continue to make the Tube more accessible and provide assistance at stations for all our customers who need it. Rebuilt stations, new trains and signalling systems mean we are now running some of the most frequent metro services anywhere in Europe.
‘To meet the challenge of London’s growing population and development, we must continue to invest and deliver even more efficiently in future. Our vision is for a Tube network and service that is truly fit for London and our customers in the 21st century – a better face-to-face service at our stations, a 24-hour service at weekends, with easier and more personalised ways to plan and pay for journeys, on and off our network.’