All aboard ‘fantastic’ first trip on the Night Tube
PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 August 2016
Last weekend, Reporter Matthew Clemenson joined Havering’s London Assembly member Keith Prince on a tour of the new 24-hour service. Here is his full account.
Our Friday tour of the Night Tube started, rather fittingly, in a way that will soon be extinct in London at the weekend – running for the final Tube.
Redbridge’s London Assembly Member, Keith Prince, and I meet at just gone 11pm in Gants Hill to jump on an everyday Central Line service to Kings Cross, where we plan to meet some representatives from London Underground before taking the first ever Night Tube.
One is Peter McNaught, operational director of London Underground’s Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines. At Oxford Circus, I ask Peter how nervous he’s been in the build-up to this week’s unveiling.
“The thing about Night Tube is that we know we can do it, we do it every year at New Year anyway,” he tells me.
“The test for us is to work out the logistics – how we keep stations tidy when we’re no longer able to clean them at night or how we schedule making repairs to trains, for example.”
As we jump back into a carriage I’m struck by just how many police there are, both on trains and at certain stations.
Peter tells me this is because London Underground has colour co-ordinated the stations to make it clear to British Transport Police which stations need to be most heavily policed.
On our way back east we arrange to stop off at Stratford, where we speak to Met Police officers who reveal they spent most of their evening stopping people from mistakenly prolonging their journey by using buses.
One said: “There’s not been much trouble. Most of it has been people coming to us asking which bus stop they need for Leicester Square and we’ve just pointed them at the station and told them they can get the Tube.”
At Stratford, Keith and I bid farewell to Peter, who is off to do a complete tour of the Victoria line stations before his shift ends, and after a short ride we’re sitting on benches at Leytonstone station, waiting for the service to Hainault that will take us back into Redbridge proper.
As we wait we find ourselves talking to a group of men from Barkingside who didn’t seem to realise quite how late it was, nor that they are about to board a Night Tube service on the first night of its history.
“All-night Tube starts tonight?” one of them asks another. “That’s brilliant, now we can go all night!”
As we pull back into Gants Hill, I get Keith’s verdict on the Night Tube and what it will mean for his constituents.
He says: “I think it’s fantastic for the people of Redbridge that they can now make the most of a 24-hour Tube.
“It was amazing to see all the hard work that has been put into the Night Tube by London Underground staff paying off – it all seemed to run smoothly.
“I have to give credit to the new Mayor of London as well, he’s done incredibly well to make this become a reality.”