London mayor Sadiq Khan said during his “Speak to Sadiq” segment on British radio LBC that an announcement regarding the reopening of the night Tube will be made soon.
Khan, replying to host James O’Brien’s question, said: “I will have an announcement in the next couple of weeks. We’ve been working incredibly hard to bring it back.”
Khan said that London authorities could not restart the service earlier because of a combination of factors including government’s doing and a lack of revenues, but also as a result of train drivers being moved from one Tube line to the other to keep the network moving post-Covid.
“I understand the importance of the night Tube not simply for women’s safety – a really important issue – [but] additionally for the night-time economy.” The mayor also added that Tube services from Central London start at 5.30am ending at 1am.
Khan’s response comes after 80,000 Londoners signed a petition to reinstate the night Tube, mainly to keep women and girls safe while walking around the city – especially after the Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa’s murders. As reported by City A.M., the petition was launched by 26-year-old Ella Watson when she could not find a similar one.
Watson highlighted that, as women and girls feel clearly unsafe when walking alone around London, Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to keep the 24-hour night tube closed for the 2021/2022 winter will have a huge impact, as women will be forced to take other means of transportation such as taxis to get back home.
“Whilst it is important to recognise the tube itself, much like other public transport, is not perfect and more needs to be done to protect women when using it, the running of a well-lit and well-connected tube network, with platform CCTV and appropriately trained security staff serves as the best transport option to ensure millions of women across London can get home safely in the evenings and at night this coming winter,” wrote Watson in her Change.org petition.
The reopening of the night economy after lockdown without this infrastructure is a disservice to women’s safety.
London Underground managing director Andy Lord said the feasibility of bringing back a couple of night Tube lines quicker is being “explored”, adding that ensuring the safety of women and girls is paramount for London Underground.
Watson replied, given the proportions of the problem, reopening a couple of lines was not enough. “How can they justify selecting certain lines when this is an issue that affects women across the whole of London?,” she said.
“They will still be jeopardising the safety of women who live in the areas where the lines remain closed.”
The night Tube’s reopening needs to focus on public as well as staff’s safety first, said the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).
“We know from previous experience that the Night Tube has been a magnet for anti-social and violent behaviour and those risks require a fresh assessment with the unions centrally involved before any reopening,” said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch. “Staffing levels are crucial to that safe operation and corners must not be cut and crucial decisions rushed for the sake of political expediency.”