The Night Tube may not be up and running until after the mayoral elections in May. A bitter dispute over pay and working conditions between tube workers’ unions and Transport for London has delayed the service. Although a strike meant for today was called off at the last minute and services are running normally, union leaders now predict there can be little progress this side of May’s election.
The Night Tube is set to serve the Central, Northern (Bank branch), Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly lines with a 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays. Tower Hamlets will benefit with Bethnal Green and Canary Wharf tube stations included in the plan. The service was expected to start last September but Finn Brennan, London Underground organiser for tube drivers’ union Aslef, said: “We could still be months away from a start for the Night Tube. We hope the progress that’s been made means that London will finally get a Night Tube service this year.”
Brennan continued: “If London Underground had been ready to negotiate a fair agreement from the start, then the delay and two days of strike action last year, could have been avoided. Let’s hope they learn the lesson for the future.”
London Underground is trying to employ 700 part time staff to run the service. So far they have received 6,000 applications for the new service but it would take 12 weeks to train the new tube drivers.
Steve Griffiths, London Underground chief operating officer, told the Evening Standard: “Following constructive talks at ACAS (the conciliation service,) all four trade unions have suspended their strike action due to take place this week. Our very fair offer reiterates our previous guarantees on protecting the work-life balance of our staff and a four-year pay deal, which remains within our business plan.
Strike action planned for today was suspended, following an improved offer of pay and conditions. The offer has not been formally accepted by all unions and more 24-hour strikes in February are still on the cards.
Follow our reporter Huw Sambrook on Twitter: @huwsambrook