It’s something of an understatement to say that London’s night-time economy has not had the best time of late.
In the past few months Madame Jo Jos and Manbar have closed in Soho. The Yard Bar faces uncertainty over its future. So does The Coronet Theatre in Elephant & Castle. Last year, Area in Vauxhall closed and Club 65 had its licence suspended. The The Royal Vauxhall Tavern changed hands amongst reports of heavy financial losses. A little further back, Profile & Lo-Profile in Soho and Cable in London Bridge closed. (Update 13 April 2015: The Black Cap can now be added to the list of closures.)
Any shot in the arm is welcome. And the Night Tube might just do that.
From Saturday 12 September 2015, the Tube will run through Friday and Saturday nights on the entirety of the Victoria and Jubilee lines, through Zones 1, 2 and beyond on the Picadilly and Central lines and the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line. (Full map below & service details below).
Update 12 August 2015: The launch of the night tube is likely to be delayed as Transport for London has not yet agreed on terms and conditions for Night Tube services with the RMT, TSSA and ASLEF unions who represent drivers and station staff.
There will be no more rushing for the last Tube. Of course, there have always been night buses and taxis, but the beauty of the Tube is that it is just there. There will be no queuing at bus stops or chasing expensive taxis. We’ve experienced 24 hour subway services in New York and it makes it markedly easier to get around at night.
It does also mean that the clusters of gay nightlife in Soho, Vauxhall, Southwark (XXL) and Clapham will be much closer together.
The beauty of a city like London is the ability to do things spontaneously, so whether you fancy a late night coffee at Bar Italia, or steak and eggs at Balans Café in the middle of the night, or after hours clubbing in Southwark or Vauxhall, all will be just a short tube journey away from each other.
The one exception is that the Night Tube will not run on the Bank branch of the Northern line, nor the Overground so Shoreditch and Dalston (for now) and Elephant & Castle won’t be so well connected.
The one other downside is that Transport for London say Night Tube trains to London will run up to every ten minutes. This will naturally disappoint those who think waiting more than three minutes for a Tube train is an absolution aberration!
Of course, issues of licensing, redevelopment and how much money people have in their back pocket (and how much of that actually gets spent at the bar) are not going to go away but, all in all, it will be interesting to see what impact the Night Tube has and how businesses and the public across London respond.
Update: The Government has announced that Night Tube services are will eventually be extended to the Metropolitan, Circle, District, and Hammersmith and City lines and the Docklands Light Railway (exact dates yet to be specified), and the East London Line section of London Overground coveriing services from Dalston Junction or Highbury & Islington to New Cross Gate by 2017.
Update June 2015: Transport for London has confirmed the following service patterns for the Night Tube.
Jubilee and Victoria lines: Trains running on average every 10 minutes across the entire lines
Central line: Trains running approximately every 10 minutes between White City and Leytonstone and approximately every 20 minutes between Ealing Broadway to White City and Leytonstone to Loughton/ Hainault
No service between North Acton and West Ruislip, Loughton and Epping and Woodford and Hainault
Northern line: Trains running on average every 8 minutes between Morden and Camden Town and approximately every 15 minutes from Camden Town to High Barnet / Edgware
No service on the Mill Hill East and Bank branches
Piccadilly line: Trains running on average every 10 minutes between Cockfosters and Heathrow Terminal 5
No service on the Terminal 4 loop, or between Acton Town and Uxbridge