Night tube expansion ‘unlikely’ in near future

TfL puts off previously planned expansion of London Underground night service for financial reasons, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Night tube roundel
Night tube roundel (credit TfL)

Tight finances at Transport for London (TfL) mean the ‘night tube’ service is unlikely to be expanded at any point in the near future, figures at City Hall have suggested.

Introduced in 2016, and expanded in 2017/18, the service covers five of the tube’s eleven lines, as well as the Overground’s East London line.

Mayor Sadiq Khan had outlined proposals to further grow the network in his 2018 transport strategy, but a spokesperson said that because those plans did not anticipate the Covid pandemic and subsequent funding crisis, they were no longer an accurate depiction of Khan’s priorities.

Asked in a recent interview whether she wanted to see the night tube expanded, Khan’s night czar, Amy Lamé, said: “It’s not a secret that TfL has had some financial challenges, due to the pandemic and due to the way central government has been treating TfL. I’d say for the future, nothing is off the table, but I think there are big financial challenges.”

The night tube was one of the first services to be suspended at the start of the pandemic, and was only reopened several months after the last lockdown ended – with the Northern and Piccadilly Lines taking until July 2022 to reopen.

A spokesperson for Khan said a further expansion of the night tube would first be dependent on the completion of a scheme to transform the track and infrastructure shared by the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.

The original timeline for the project’s signalling upgrades was scrapped due to the pandemic, though the programme has continued to make progress since then.

The spokesperson said: “The night tube continues to play a vital role in boosting London’s night-time economy, enabling those working throughout the night to travel to and from work safely and giving Londoners and visitors more ways to enjoy the capital’s world-leading hospitality and entertainment after dark.

“TfL also operates an extensive night bus network along with the ‘night overground’, to ensure everyone can travel around the capital throughout the night. More than 100 routes currently run through the night and ridership on buses is regularly at 80%.”

Responding to Amy Lamé’s point about the government’s treatment of TfL, a spokesperson at the Department for Transport said it is for the mayor and TfL to ensure the organisation is able to sustain itself financially. They added that in August 2022, the government agreed a longer-term funding settlement to provide TfL with just under £1.2billion of grant funding until the end of March 2024 – or until TfL becomes financially sustainable, if sooner.

They said this was helping to enable almost £3.6billion worth of critical infrastructure projects, matching the mayor’s own pre-Covid capital spending plans, and taking government funding to over £6bn since the onset of the pandemic.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else. £84 annual supporters get a print copy by post and a digital copy of each month's before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly 

More Information about donations