Night Tube: a low risk, steady launch

Night Tube Image copyright AFP
Image caption TfL said there were 100,300 trips on the Night Tube on the opening weekend

At last. After all that wrangling, the strikes, the delays, the safety concerns, Tube trains ran through the night on Friday and Saturday.

And it looks like it all went without a hitch.

Of course, technically there should not have been any problems as London Underground already runs trains through the night on New Year's Eve, however, this is a new service operated by an army of part-time drivers.

The latest figures show that over the weekend there were 100,300 trips on the Night Tube.

While that doesn't seem a lot compared to a daily usage that can peak at nearly five million trips, London Underground says it is confident it will see further growth.

You can attribute those lower figures in part to last week being the quietest week on the Tube network in the whole year. It also takes time for people to change travel behaviour.

But you certainly get the feeling after the agonisingly long gestation period for the Night Tube, that unsurprisingly London Underground went for the low risk, quiet option for the launch. That contrasts to the initial launch date of a much busier September in 2015.

Noise for neighbours

London Underground's initial modelling from two years ago predicted 180,000 trips over a weekend on all five lines - that has now been revised upwards to 200,000.

So with two and not five lines operating, and a quiet week in August, the 100,300 Night Tube trips taken over the weekend does not look that wide of expectations.

But there is still work to be done. Residents affected by noise through the night will still need some convincing.

Kurt Streigler, who lives near the Victoria line in Vauxhall, told me: "I am on tenter hooks since the Night Tube started.

"There is a train every 10 minutes. Less frequent than during the day but still very noticeable.

"TfL promised to fix this problem in October by installing shock absorbing technology to the tracks. My neighbours and I wait very nervously for that."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The service is staffed by mainly part-time workers

The unions also say they remain extremely vigilant over the Night Tube. They still have concerns over security and the impact on staff of running services round the clock.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) also says there remain "huge logistical challenges in areas like safety, maintenance and engineering" which it will keep under close scrutiny.

There still seems to be some issues to resolve around extending the Night Tube onto the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines.

So while a good start, the real test will be further down the line when more passengers start to use the service.

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