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Osborne and Boris plans for more 24-hour Tube services dubbed ‘pre-election stunt’

Plans for round-the-clock Tube services have been expanded before they have even begun, after George Osborne and Boris Johnson announced a potential extension to cover four new lines as well as London Overground and the DLR.

The chancellor and London mayor donned hard hats and joined members of the London Underground night shift before unveiling an election promise to extend the ‘night Tube’ to the Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines.

Originally announced in November 2013, all-night Tube services are expected to run on Fridays and Saturdays on the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central, Jubilee and Northern lines from September this year.

Osborne and Johnson unveiled a pledge that by 2017, the first London Overground services will go 24-hour and they will be joined by the Docklands Light Railway in 2021.

The two politicians said in a statement: “By the end of the next Parliament we can further extend the 24-hour core night Tube lines that begin on September 12. We can then look to extend to the Metropolitan, Hammersmith and City, District and Circle lines. The London Overground will start 24-hour operations from 2017. And as part of wider fovernment investment in data networks, we will extend wi-fi to all below-ground sections of the Tube by the end of the next Parliament.”

However critics have dubbed the announcement a “pre-election stunt”, and pointed out that London will have a new mayor next year who will not feel bound by these policies, and neither will a new government should the Tories lose in May.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA union, said: “How [Johnson] and George Osborne think they can dream up policies in Tory central office for the next Labour mayor to follow when he or she is elected next year is beyond me.

“His night Tube starting in September will lose millions and is not due to break even for another 18 years, and yet here he is, with another back of a fag packet publicity stunt.”

Mick Cash, leader of the RMT was critical the lack of discussion about the plans. He said: “This announcement has been dropped on London by the mayor as a blatant pre-election stunt without a shred of consultation.

“That is a ridiculous way to conduct important negotiations and to unveil major service developments. RMT is not opposed to extended running but there are massive issues on staffing, safety and maintenance which have not been addressed and which would need to be signed off by our reps.”

He added: “Night running would mean increased drunkenness and risks to both passengers and staff alike and could only work with substantial increases in staffing right across the board, and that means an immediate reversal of the current cuts programme.”

(Image source: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

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