Launch date for Night Tube set to serve East London ‘in doubt’
- Credit: Archant
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has cast doubt over the date for the introduction of the capital’s Night Tube.
Speaking at City Hall as thousands of commuters struggled to get to work due to strike action, he refused to rule out a delay of its launch on September 12, as previously announced by Transport for London.
The service is set to serve East London’s night time economy, taking in the Central Line which serves Liverpool Street, Bethnal Green and Mile End, as well as the Jubilee Line which serves Canary Wharf.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, Aslef, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Unite have been in dispute over pay being offered for the new all-night Tubes, and staged a 24-hour walkout last night which will disrupt services until Friday morning.
Commenting on whether the discontent of unions meant the new train timetables could not be implemented as planned, Mr Johnson said: “I am not as hung up on the date. We will get it done this autumn.”
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Managers have tabled a “final” offer, including an average 2 per cent rise this year, at least retail prices index (RPI) inflation for each of the next two years and £2,000 for drivers on the new service.
Saying this was a “good offer” Mr Johnson added that union leaders simply were not interested in reaching an agreement.
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He said: “Obviously I very much apologise for all the delay, all the destruction. I congratulate the millions of Londoners and other around the City who are making a huge effort to get into work.
“I am very sorry for the Tube being down, we have just got to get through this.
“We have got to get on with the Night Tube. The unions don’t like it, they don’t think that we should be able to do this. I think it is essential for the city, they want to show that you can’t do a huge change like this without them expressing their views. “
The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip said the action was a “show of strength” from the unions, but that “we will get on with the Night Tube which is what London needs, it will be a massive boost for the economy.
The strike has also been condemned by the Government, but unions said London Underground was to blame.
Rush hour started early in London last night as offices closed and commuters scrambled to get home before the strike started.
The Tube handles up to four million journeys each day, and at peak times there are more than 535 trains in operation, according to London Underground.
Some rail platforms and buses were reported to be full before 6am.
Transport for London extra bus and river services will run while trams will operate a peak-time service all day in an effort to ease disruption.
The Tube strike coincided with a 48-hour stoppage by workers on First Great Western which will disrupt trains to and from London Paddington.