London’s Night Tube is to reopen 20 months after it was shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Round-the-clock services will resume from 27 November on two lines – with Transport for London (TfL) saying it aims to get more of them running overnight “as soon as possible”.
Almost 140,000 people signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of 24-hour Underground services in the wake of the killings of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard, saying that the lack of night services left women and girls unsafe.
From next month, the east-west Central Line will operate overnight on Fridays and Saturdays, as will the north-south Victoria Line. They last ran at this time in March 2020.
In a statement, TfL said the delay in restarting services was due to a backlog in training drivers, and making sure day services were appropriately staffed.
The company added that “off-peak leisure travel” was recovering faster than other types of journeys.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union had previously threatened to strike over proposed changes to drivers’ pay for night services.
The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) agreed to TfL proposals earlier this year to get the service up and running. While the number of journeys being completed on weekdays was only at about 55% of pre-pandemic levels, the Tube was at up to 80% of pre-COVID capacity on weekends.
“Night Tube drivers were recently offered the opportunity to convert from their part-time roles to permanent full-time roles, boosting London Underground‘s ability to provide a good overnight service while also benefitting drivers and meaning overnight services can now resume on the busiest two lines,” TfL said.
“Training still needs to take place on the other night Tube lines – the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines – so night Tube services on those lines can return as soon as possible. The return of these lines also has to be planned around complex vital operational and engineering closures.”
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London and chair of TfL, 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.”