London Underground in 24-hour plans as ticket offices shut

 

Boris Johnson reveals the Night Tube map

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London Underground will run weekend services 24 hours under plans that also involve ticket office closures and up to 750 job cuts.

The Night Tube will provide services on the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central, Jubilee and Northern lines.

But Transport for London (TfL) said every ticket office would close by 2015, resulting in the job cuts.

The RMT union said it had "not ruled out" strike action in the run-up to Christmas over the "lethal" cuts.

Three-week process

For action to take place the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) would have to hold a two-week ballot and give TfL seven days notice.

In a tweet, the BBC's transport correspondent Richard Westcott said: "RMT just told me they haven't ruled out calling for strikes b4 Christmas on the #londonunderground"

The transport authority is facing a budget reduction of about £78m in the financial years of 2013 and 2014 and said the plans would help it save more than £40m a year.

TfL says six major central London stations will have special customer points to help tourists and that every station will be staffed while the tube is running, with workers moved out of ticket offices into station booking areas.

It is also promising:

Closing all ticket offices is one of the most radical changes to the Tube in its history - it's up there with electrification and the Oyster card.

And it will be a huge sell for London Underground and the Mayor.

We knew cuts were looming but what they have done is bundle 24hr weekend running of the Tube into the same plan.

Cynics would say London Underground are trying to undermine the unions position by sweetening the pill for the travelling public. A later running tube will be very popular. They've also said there will be no compulsory redundancies.

The unions have already said they'll use everything at their disposal to head this off. They would not want their members at stations in outer London on their own at 3am with just an iPad for company.

They will not want job losses even if the promise is all stations will be staffed. It's difficult to not see the first tube-wide strikes in four years.

Ultimately, you suspect this will be decided in the court of public opinion of the Tube's passengers.

  • Wi-fi coverage across all below-ground stations
  • Disabled access at a further 27 stations
  • Contactless bank card payment to make it easier to pay for tickets
  • More new trains and updates for stations

The initial plans for the 24-hour Night Tube include overnight trains on Friday and Saturday, with plans for it to expand over subsequent years.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, said: "This is just the first stage in an opening up of the tube network to become 24 hours.

"For 150 years the Tube has been the beating heart of London, its tunnels and tracks providing the arteries that have transported millions of people and helped to drive the development and economic growth of our great city."

London Underground will now go into a 90-day consultation on its proposals but says there will be no compulsory redundancies and has promised that every member of staff who wants a job and who is "ready to be flexible" will have one.

The managing director of London Underground Mike Brown, said: "All Tube stations will continue to be staffed and controlled in future, with more staff visible and available to customers."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson announces a new 24 hour Tube service at weekends and changes to station staffing London Mayor Boris Johnson said it was time to take the Tube "to the next level"

But the RMT, which represents most of the station staff who would be affected, has said it would "fight these plans with every tool at our disposal and that includes political, public and industrial campaigning on an unprecedented scale".

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said the "proposed cuts will decimate staffing levels and hit the most vulnerable users" of Tube services.

He said: "The mayor must believe he is some sort of magician if he thinks he can slash a thousand jobs and still run safe services when everyone knows that staffing has already been cut to the bone while passenger demand continues to rise.

"Throwing in the plan for night time operation at the weekends is just a smokescreen to try and camouflage the real issue which is a savage cuts to jobs, access and safety."

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association rail union, accused the mayor of being the "hypocrite of the decade".

Tube statistics

  • In 2012/2013 1.2bn passengers carried
  • Length of network: 249 miles (402km)
  • Total staff 19,000
  • Stations managed: 260

Source: TfL

He said: "It beggars belief that the mayor, who was elected in 2008 on a pledge to keep open every ticket office, is now planning to close every single one, with all that means for safety and jobs.

"We shall be launching a joint campaign with Labour to reverse this decision."

Customers have expressed concern over the ticket office closures but broadly welcomed the 24-hour service.

Garvie Gay, 36, from Bedford said he regularly needed help from counter staff.

He said: "It's not good because I don't know where I'm going half the time. I've not really got a clue but for regulars I suppose it wouldn't be a problem."

In March, BBC London reported TfL is facing a 1% cut in its government grant this year, and 2% the following year.

In cash terms, it means a loss of £33m for 2013-14, and £45m for 2014-15.

In January, passengers saw a 4.2% increase on average in fares across the Tube, buses and trams.

 

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  • rate this
    +19

    Comment number 618.

    I live in central London. The only reason I have used a ticket office in the last 5 years is to claim a refunds after entering the station with my Oyster card only to find the trains not running.

    The Oyster card system knows you've entered and left the same station without having had time to go anywhere and yet still charges you!

    Maybe they will finally resolve this well-known issue.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 605.

    My tube station has a toilet. After being stuck for ages due to signal failure I desperately wanted to use it. I found the door locked and the ticket collector non-existent. Luckily, the person in the ticket office was able to unlock it. What would I have done if the ticket office had been closed? The underground reeks at times and I can imagine it getting a lot worse if the staff go.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 548.

    Some year ago I was assaulted on the platform of a tube station. There was no member of staff on the platform to assist me and I had to stagger to the ticket office and try to explain, through the glass screen, that I urgently needed an ambulance and that the offender was still in the train and might be apprehended at the next station. Put the staff where they might do some good.

  • rate this
    +80

    Comment number 190.

    I love how people comment on this when they clearly have no idea,

    luckily, there are people like me who actually work for london underground

    We are making a lot of changes to the underground in order to keep it to a world class standard. We need to progress and this is one of many ways forward

    and yes, the system is becoming automated but there will always be staff on the train

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 186.

    I think that the unions should concentrate on getting the best deal for its members that will be laid off . progress of this sort is unfortunately going to happen .

 

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