They will mark a partial return to the Night Tube service.
Since March 2020 the night tube – which had given Londoners a simple route home on Fridays and Saturdays into the early hours – has remained shut, despite Covid restrictions no longer mandating the closure of late-night venues across the city.
In recent months, pressure has mounted on Mayor Sadiq Khan and London legislators to bring back the service, which saw five underground services (as well as parts of the Overground line) run all through the night.
Back in October, the Mayor has revealed that two Night Tube routes would return on November 27: the Central and Victoria Lines. Once they reopen, it will mark 19 months since they were last in use. The service operates from around 12:30am on both lines until the morning on Fridays and Saturdays when the day’s service begins. There is no news on when the remaining former Night Tube lines (Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and parts of the London Overground) will return.
Mayor Sadiq 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.”
However, as you’ve probably heard, there’s a strike-shaped spanner in the works. Today (Friday November 27), a 24-hour walkout across 5 tube lines (Central, Victoria, Northern, Piccadilly, and Jubilee) is taking place. But it doesn’t end there, with action continuing across the Central and Victoria lines from 8.30pm on Saturday 27 November, coinciding with the return of the night tube.
Both Mayor Sadiq Khan and TFL have stated confidence in being able to restart the night tube, but conceded that fewer trains may run than initially hoped. So, anyone planning to use the restored night tube service must be prepared for lengthy delays/no shows. Passengers should regularly check live updates via the TFL site.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family friendly agreements that helped make the original Night Tube such a success. Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.
“We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks since the off to resolve this dispute but it is clear that London Underground bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and have no interest whatsoever in the well-being of their staff or the service to passengers.”
TFL have called strike action “unnecessary”.
Earlier in October, MP Nickie Aiken revealed in a letter to Sadiq Khan that the Mayor had been considering the reopening of the Central and Victoria Lines’ night tube service by Christmas. Aiken did, however, go on to demand that all lines reopen “in full, immediately”.
“With the beginning of the festive period nearly upon us, a time which is vital to the economic recovery of the West End, I urge you to please reopen the Night Tube in its entirety,” reads Nickie Aiken’s letter to the Mayor. “I understand that you are considering reopening the Victoria and Central Lines before Christmas, which I obviously welcome, but for the sake of women’s safety we need all five night tube underground lines and the Overground night service reopened.”
A particular area of concern has been what the closure means for women travelling home at weekends, many of whom have spoken out to voice fears with fewer safe options to get home.
This has been compounded by the strain on taxi services, such as Uber, Bolt and black cabs, caused in part by the reduced train service. As a result, a petition was set up by 26-year-old Ella Watson, who lives in Brixton, which calls for the service to be reinstated. Previously, TFL said Night Tube service would not return until 2022 at the earliest.
The full petition can be viewed and signed here, with the opening statement reading: “In the UK and London women and girls are unsafe on the streets, especially at night. The rightful outcry at the recent murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard on London’s streets, epitomises the fear women face of walking alone or standing on the streets in the evening and at night.
In the petition, it later goes on to relay data from the UN which found that over 70% of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment in public.
So far, the petition has amassed over 150,000 signatures.
Andy Lord, managing director of London Underground said: “Ensuring women and girls can travel safely on London’s public transport networks is an absolute priority.
“We are running as close to a full service as possible across all our services and the Tube continues to serve central London with last trains leaving around 1am and starting again at 5.30am.”