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24-hour Tube promised by 2015 – but ticket offices to close

A new 24-hour service will be introduced on the Tube from 2015, TfL has announced in its ‘vision for the future’. But rail unions are up-in-arms about plans to close most ticket offices and cut 750 jobs as part of a radical restructure, bringing staff out into the ticket halls.

The ‘Night Tube’ will run on Friday and Saturday nights, initially on the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines as well as key sections of the Northern line. It will be expanded in later years.

The vision also sets out the closure of most ticket offices, with around 750 jobs losses expected. TfL said that less than 3% of all Tube journeys involve a visit to a ticket office. Staff will be moved onto platforms and all stations will continue to be staffed.

TfL stated: “No longer will [staff] have to be confined to station control rooms or ticket offices in order to serve customers, manage stations and ensure the highest standards of safety and security. A new, simplified staffing model will reflect the fact that customers have different needs at each of the different types of station across the network.”

The latest technology will be used to monitor and manage stations “on the move”, it added.

Other features in the vision include more frequent services, with a 20% increase in capacity on the Northern line. The Jubilee and Victoria lines are to get 33 and 36 trains per hour services, respectively, at the busiest times.

Contactless bank payment will be rolled out later than expected, from next year. Shashi Verma, TfL’s director of customer experience, who heads the contactless project, told RTM in an interview earlier this year that the go-live date for the Tube, DLR and Overground would be before the end of 2013. It is already live on London’s buses.

Wi-fi will be installed in all remaining below-ground stations by the end of 2014, apart from the four that are undergoing major upgrades.

TfL will also deliver improved customer service training and technology, as well as more raised platform sections, boarding ramps, improved information and signage, 27 more step-free stations and enhanced disability training.

More and better ticket machines will be introduced, which will automatically complete journeys when customers forget to swipe out, and improvements to Tube stations will continue.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “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 to in which to live, work, visit and invest.”

Mike Brown MVO, managing director of London Underground, said: “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.”

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “No matter how this is dressed up by Boris Johnson and his officials, today’s announcement is all about slashing £270m from the annual London transport budget and the proposed cuts will decimate staffing levels and hit the most vulnerable users of tube services the hardest. The mayor must believe he is some sort of magician if he thinks he can slash a thousand jobs and still run safe services when everyone knows that staffing has already been cut to the bone while passenger demand continues to rise.

“Throwing in the plan for night time operation at the weekends is just a smokescreen to try and camouflage the real issue, which is savage cuts to jobs, access and safety. Any move to run through the night would require huge additional capacity and staffing and wholesale changes to fleet and infrastructure maintenance that would require the agreement of the tube unions and the issue has only been flagged up today as a diversion from the massive cuts agenda.”

He said the union would “fight”, and is already considering balloting on strike action.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Ricp   24/11/2013 at 09:27

It is a great pity that TfL and its 'Blonde Boris Bombshell' leader cannot grasp reality and deliver what is genuinely possible. Walk before you run. It has been long argued that an extra hour of Underground operation on Friday and Saturday would be a major benefit to the social structure of London as a 24 hour city, while allowing night time work to continue. Will there still be the odd weekend total closure for major works, I bet there will!

Ian Sargent   26/11/2013 at 11:34

And what happens about those tickets that are not currently issued from ticket machines?

Tony   10/12/2013 at 00:23

What about visitors to London with no ticket office? How about those transferring across the central area - it's already a nightmare finding your way with a suitcase - now how do you get a ticket when you've not seen these machines before?

Kevin Egan   21/01/2014 at 17:47

Any TfL service improvement, expansion and extension news is good news. Naturally, it might not go well at the first attempt, but we'll have to adopt and adapt - it was ever thus - as those of us that have commuted for 30+ years will attest ... if only the trades unions could be made to disappear though - then that would be a real service upgrade!!!

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