Night tube begins tonight…at long last!

Night Tube Pocket Map-August 2016(c)

About bloody time. Finally London joins the modern world and night owls will no longer be reliant on expensive cabs or painfully slow night buses. After all the delays and upheaval people wont need to anxiously check their watch for that last tube.

It’ll be goodbye to night buses for many, at least for entire journeys. Despite big improvements over the past 15 years, not using them can’t come soon enough for some. Sure, they’re ok if you live in zone 2. But with many forced further and further out by high rent and house price costs, a night bus or two to zone 3 or further is not great at all.

I have memories of two to three hour trips from nights out to SE London. Me and friends often couldn’t be arsed. I doubt we were alone. Pubs and bars suffer loss of trade. But for some in London at least, things will be much better.

One of the very early posts on this blog was about possible late night travel. I wasn’t too optimistic. But here we are. The first two lines to kick it off are the Central and Victoria. I’ve already got a couple of trips lined up that either I wouldn’t have done or would have had to curtail around midnight. And who wants to do that?

When other lines like the Jubilee kick off I’m also hoping to take a trip to Billingsgate on a Saturday morning. I’ve never been, am curious and the thought of getting up at silly-o-clock and then heading there was off-putting.

Me and a friend have long talked about going but currently it seems too much hassle. Now we can have some beers and take a night tube at 3am. I realise I’m probably alone in wanting to do this but, hey, at least we now have a reasonable chance to do so!

In the shadow of Canary Wharf. Taken from DLR
In the shadow of Canary Wharf. Taken from DLR

I’ve heard all the scare stories about crime or people being sick etc many times. If a worry about that was enough to halt late night transport we’d have no night bus service. 100 extra police will patrol the tube lines to aid safety.

South East London?

Admittedly none of this is much good for south-east London, except for those taking the Jubilee to North Greenwich and then a night bus. Which is still better than now, but not great. And for many it’s still two buses from there. But at least now people will only have to pay for one ticket even if using two buses under new Mayor Sidiq Khan’s 1 hour transfer ticket (another thing that’s common around the world that is very welcome in London).

There’s vague talk of parts of London Overground going 24 hours on a weekend, and being a pretty much new line shouldn’t be too difficult to work around engineering work. The old east London line does pass many of the most popular night spots. If TfL takeover Southeastern routes in 2018 it’d also be welcome to see later trains on a weekend. Even a couple of hours more would help.

There’s also the DLR. I’ve no doubt the Woolwich branch would be very popular. Lewisham too, but that cannot happen until 2021 at the earliest as it was built under a private-public partnership, and contract alterations make it prohibitive. Another triumph for PPP and PFI.


Then there’s Crossrail. Surely this is being considered? It’s looking likely under current plans that they’ll be four trains an hour from Abbey Wood to Heathrow during the day. That looks a possible candidate to become all night given it serves an airport. Four trains from Reading to Shenfield would then give eight an hour in the core.

On the subject of Crossrail, an important milestone at Abbey Wood will be reached this week. The newly built platform 2 towards Kent should be open by Monday when trains begin serving it. The new track will be connected and the old platform 2, in use since 30th July 1849, will be served no more. The wrecking balls will take it out soon enough and the new island platform serving Crossrail will begin construction. Many more weekend closures to come.

Comprehensive photo updates of the work to rebuild the station can be seen at Bexley is Bonkers here.

Late night transport brings life and vitality to cities. Shutting up shop at midnight in much of London seems utterly bizarre if you’ve spent time living in most other UK cities – where people can walk home, a cab is cheap or night buses aren’t too arduous, – let alone the rest of the world. Tonight is hopefully the first step on the road to that all changing. It does mean however that other battles have to be won, including over-zealous authorities trying to limit and close venues across the capital.


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Many thanks

J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    0 thoughts on “Night tube begins tonight…at long last!

    • For work purposes I have lived in Abbey Wood/Thamesmead for over 5 years, whilst still living in my family home in Leeds on a weekend. Over that time I have enjoyed reading your informative articles on the development of Abbey Wood/SE London. I can’t help but smile when, in relation to through the night transport, you reference other parts of the UK regarding night time travel…….where you can walk home, cabs are cheaper or bus journeys not as arduous! Please tell me where this is! Yes, you can walk home in Leeds late in the night-good luck on arriving safely; cabs are similarly priced; and finally, buses, well they are not as much arduous as non-existent! A late night bus in Leeds is as rare as the proverbial rocking horse…….. Ah and just to mention, the typical fare into Leeds is about £3 for a single journey. I’m not trying to compare London to other capital cities, but if you compare it to the rest of the UK, the travel infrastructure, frequency of buses and tubes is outstanding.

      Once again many thanks for the continued enlightening insight into the ever developing SE London – great job!


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