The mad dash for the Tube is to be a thing of the past. As of 2015 London will keep the Underground running throughout the night at weekends, boosting night-time businesses and adding lustre to its global status as it competes with 24-hour cities such as New York.
In a sign of the sweeping changes under way at the world’s oldest metro system, Transport for London also said it was talking to Amazon, the online retailer, about converting its ticket offices – which will be closed in favour of automatic ticket machines – to “drop-off” points for its goods.
As part of a radical plan drawn up by the city’s transport authorities – and fiercely contested by the unions – the five busiest lines on the London Underground network will run nonstop from Friday morning to Sunday night.
Boris Johnson, London mayor, said it would be invaluable to the city “which is increasingly a 24-hour economy, interacting with time zones around the world”.
All-night operations will start on most of the Central and Piccadilly lines, the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line and the whole of the Jubilee and Victoria lines. More lines will be added to the night-time network as they are upgraded. TfL said it hoped to extend the 24-hour service into the week.
All ticket offices at the 240 stations on the network will close under the plan, with a net loss of 750 jobs among the 5,750 station staff.
The closures will bring staff on to the forecourt to help travellers buy tickets. But they also throw open the commercial possibilities for the vacated spaces, such as the idea being discussed with Amazon for managing the physical side of online commerce.
Amazon did not return requests for comment. But Asda this week announced a deal with TfL to launch “click and collect” services from car parks outside six Tube stations.