Tube trains will run for 24 hours at weekends, it has been announced, but commuters are likely to get caught in all-out war between London Underground and transport unions.
By 2015 London Underground trains will operate through the night on Fridays and Saturdays, initially only on the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines, and part of the Northern line.
The announcement came as Transport for London confirmed plans to close all ticket offices on the network, with up to 750 job losses expected.
But all stations will still be staffed, with workers in ticket halls and platforms instead, while contactless bank card payment technology; extended Wi-Fi coverage and improved ticket machines will all be introduced under initiatives aimed at saving £50million a year and that are now subject to a 90-day consultation.
Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, accused Boris Johnson of being the ‘hypocrite of the decade’ having been elected as London mayor in 2008 on a pledge to keep all 268 Tube ticket offices open.
‘We shall be launching a joint campaign with Labour to reverse this decision and we urge all Londoners to back this campaign to prevent Boris’s long march to the leadership of the Tory system on the back of his lasting legacy of a second class Tube network,’ he said.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow had said the plans would reduce the Tube network to a ‘dangerous and hollowed out shell’.
‘RMT will fight these plans with every tool at our disposal and that includes political, public and industrial campaigning on an unprecedented scale,’ he said.
‘RMT will move quickly to make the necessary preparations for action that will confront these proposals head on and if the LU management under Boris Johnson don’t wake up and see sense that means, inevitably, industrial action across the entire network.’
Mr Johnson said the plans would take the Tube ‘to the next level’.
‘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,’ he said.
‘This will not just boost jobs and our vibrant night-time economy, it will further cement London’s reputation as the best big city on the planet to in which to live, work, visit and invest.’
Shadow London minister Sadiq Khan said the plans would make Londoners ‘feel more anxious’ travelling through deserted stations.
‘Commuters will have nowhere to turn when their Oyster card is lost, stolen or broken,’ he said, despite pledges that all stations would still be staffed.