Piccadilly Line's Night Tube troubles could continue until end of the year after unions warn of driver shortage

 
Rebecca Smith
Historic Night For London Underground As Trains Run through The Night
The Night Tube runs on five Underground lines including the Piccadilly and Central (Source: Getty)

Night Tube services on the Piccadilly Line are being derailed by fewer trains being run than scheduled, leading Transport for London (TfL) to draw up an amended schedule in an effort to minimise disruption.

New figures obtained by City A.M. reveal that since July, the line has been running considerably fewer trains than scheduled, which unions have said meant lengthy waits for customers.

Read more: Get ready, hipsters: The Night Tube is coming to the Overground

On Saturday 19 August, just a third of the scheduled trains ran, and on many weekends since mid-July, more than a quarter of trains planned did not run.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union last month warned of a crisis on the Piccadilly Night Tube, saying there was a persistent driver shortage that had reduced the Night Tube on the line “to chaos”. But TfL said at the time it was due to staff sickness.

The troubles have persisted however, and City A.M. understands it is likely to continue up to the end of the year as London Underground trains up more drivers.

Finn Brennan, district organiser at train drivers’ union Aslef, said: “It is completely wrong to blame driver absence for the problems on the Piccadilly line Night Tube. In fact the delays and disruption are caused by the failure of LU [London Underground] management to recruit and train enough drivers to operate the service.”

Nigel Holness, director of network operations for London Underground, said:

Overall 99 per cent of scheduled trains have run, but recently services on the Piccadilly Line have fallen short of the high levels we expect for our customers, for which we apologise.

We have made some immediate changes to rectify this, including implementing an amended timetable that enables us to provide a consistent level of service for customers, and we’re working hard to make sure a full Night Tube service returns to the Piccadilly Line as quickly as possible.

All-night services operate on the Central, Victoria, Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines every Friday and Saturday, since the Night Tube was first introduced in August last year.

The night services rollout, which is extending to the Overground in December, has otherwise been a success so far, topping expectations to boost London’s economy by £171m in its first year of operation.

Read more: The Night Tube has smashed expectations in its first year

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