Night Tube: Residents' concern over sleepless nights

Tom Edwards
Transport correspondent, London
@BBCTomEdwardson Twitter

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image captionTom Edwards with resident Ash Khan who believes he should have compensation

We still don't know when the Night Tube will start, although we're told sometime 'in the autumn'.

Feasibly that could mean the start date could be at any time before December while more talks with the unions continue.

By pre-empting a change to the start date, the mayor of London seemed to take the heat out of the talks and the criticism of delaying the start. There is still a slim possibility it won't happen by the end of the year, but there does seem to be progress.

What has emerged though is that it isn't only the unions that have concerns about the introduction of the Night Tube.

Residents close to the Central line in Woodford, north-east London, have realised they are going to have noisy trains passing close to their bedroom windows every 20 minutes throughout Friday and Saturday nights.

image copyrightTfL
image captionTfL has emphasised the benefits to the night economy

They think their quality of life will be affected as well as the price of their homes, and they are now demanding compensation from Transport for London (TfL).

They also want triple glazing to reduce the noise.

What is striking is, they say, they have had very little contact from TfL and that is in direct contradiction to what the local government organisation is claiming.

In a reply to Green London Assembly, Member Darren Johnson, TfL said: "Since plans for the Night Tube were first announced in November 2013, TfL has been engaging and working closely with stakeholders across London, including residents, to understand their concerns and minimise any negative impacts of the Night Tube, while also meeting Londoners' demands for extended night-time transport services.

"This has included meetings with boroughs across London and with London Councils' forums, as well as communicating directly with concerned residents.

"Work is progressing to identify potential noise issues across the Night Tube network and London Underground (LU) is taking steps to address noise levels that are considered unsatisfactory.

image captionKevin Dunning from TfL says engineering trains often run in the night already

"This involves mapping information onto a geographical information system, which can then be used to plan and implement maintenance works to improve the condition of the rails and reduce noise levels.

"Once the Night Tube is operational, LU will of course continue to work with residents to help resolve any issues. Tube services already run for up to 20 hours each day, and engineering trains often operate overnight too.

"As such, the potential for disturbance from less frequent night-time services on Fridays and Saturdays is expected to be limited. "

The London business community is very keen on the Night Tube.

An independent report by Volterra, commissioned by TfL, finds the Night Tube will create 1,965 jobs. The average saving on journey times at night will be 20 minutes and over 30 years it will generate £360m.

Other major cities like New York, Chicago and Stockholm have 24-hour Tube services and the thinking is that it is vital for London to also have it so it remains attractive to tourists and stays competitive.

If you drill down into the numbers the benefits aren't quite as clear.

Financial benefits

The benefit-to-cost ratio of the Night Tube is 2.7: 1, meaning for every pound spent it will generate £2.70.

image captionTraffic light improvements are the most cost-beneficial to TfL

Compare that with:

So the Night Tube has an economic benefit but it is towards the bottom of the scale compared with other projects.

Certainly some who live next to the Tube lines are hoping it never happens.

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