It’s been a long time coming (after a lengthy stand-off between drivers and their bosses over pay and working hours) but the Night Tube in London is almost here. And it’s set to change the social lives of millions of Londoners and tourists.

From 19 August, Transport for London (TfL) will begin operating 24-hour Underground train services on Friday and Saturday nights – bringing a host of benefits to not just late-night revellers but pubs and clubs too.

Currently, if you want to catch the Tube home you have until around 12.30am – well before closing time at many of the capital’s venues – to race to the nearest station for the last service home. Alternatively, if you can’t tear yourself away from the dance floor, you can steel yourself for an epic journey on the dreaded night bus or stump up the cash for a taxi, which always seems wasteful when you’ve already forked out for a monthly Travelcard to use public transport.

But these worries will become a thing of the past when the Night Tube is running as you’ll be able to catch a train every 10 to 20 minutes throughout Friday and Saturday nights – meaning you can end your big night out at a time of your choosing.

London Underground - Photo by Negativexpositive (CC 2.0)
The Night Tube is set to change the social lives of Londoners – Photo by Negativexpositive (CC 2.0)

Even better, TfL says it will charge standard off-peak fares for travelling on the Night Tube, so it won’t cost an arm and a leg. And for visitors with Day Travelcards, these will be valid until 4.29am. For solo Night Tubers worried about potential safety implications of late-night travel, TfL is promising “an enhanced policing presence” of more than 100 British Transport Police officers.

“PERHAPS THE ONLY CONCERN IS THAT US LONDONERS ARE LIKELY TO END UP WORSE FOR WEAR”

A caveat to this utopian vision is that the service will initially only cover the Central (east to west) and Victoria (north to south) lines, so if you’re partying elsewhere in London or don’t live within walking distance of any of the stops on those two lines you’ll still have to hail a bus or call a cab, albeit you can shorten the distance you need to travel via these modes of transport.

However, as the nights get longer and colder things will get more flexible, with the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines pencilled in to join the subterranean fun in the autumn, although modernisation work will need to finish before the Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines can operate for 24 hours. TfL says it is also considering a similar move above ground by incorporating London Overground in 2017 and the Docklands Light Railway in 2021.

Perhaps the only concern is that us Londoners are likely to end up worse for wear both financially and physically when you factor in all the extra boozing we’ll be doing without the threat of the last Tube hanging over us. Bar operators and kebab shop owners are no doubt rubbing their hands.

Given what happened with the previous launch date (September 2015), fingers crossed that this time the Night Tube arrives on schedule. Just remember to the mind the gap!

For more on the Night Tube, visit the TfL website.

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