Night Tube closure 'putting more women at risk' says Tory MP, as Khan hints service will run by end of year

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wears a mask as he waits on a platform at Westminster Station to catch a train on the Underground to visit the London Transport Museum.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wears a mask as he waits on a platform at Westminster Station to catch a train on the Underground to visit the London Transport Museum.

More than 80,000 people have signed a petition calling on Transport for London to resume the 24-hour service this winter to keep women and girls safe

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he will be disappointed if the night Tube is not up and running by the end of the year, as tens of thousands of people called for it to resume to protect women and girls.

Mr Khan said he is hoping to make a “good news” announcement in the coming weeks on the resumption of night services on the London Underground.

The night Tube was first launched in August 2016 under Mr Khan.

Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Special Committee on Women and Equality, told The Telegraph that delays to the reopening of the service was “putting women at more risk”.

“I would like to know what the Met Police will be doing to keep women, especially women, safe,” Caroline Nokes MP said.

“As the nights have got darker and as we move towards the Christmas period, you can expect more people will be out celebrating and wanting to find a safe way home,” she said.

Caroline Nokes, the Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North and Chair of the Special Committee on Women and Equality
Caroline Nokes, the Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North and Chair of the Special Committee on Women and Equality

It is understood the busiest services will be prioritised to open first when they can be staffed, such as the Central Line.

Mr Khan said the service had stopped during the pandemic as night operators were moved to cover days as staff were off sick or isolating due to coronavirus.

He told the PA news agency: “We needed daytime service to be running – that’s why we moved the operators.

“Because of the pandemic and the rules around social distancing, we couldn’t train new operators, new drivers, new staff.

“Now that social distancing rules have been relaxed we’re now training more and more staff to drive trains, become operators.

“I’m hoping to make an announcement in the next couple of weeks to give an early date for the first night Tube to be up and running.”

Mr Khan said he wants to see it return “as soon as possible” and will be “disappointed” if night services are not running by the end of the year.

He added: “I feel personally it’s really important that we listen to the concerns raised by Londoners.”

Ella Watson, who launched the petition, said the outcry following the murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard has reinforced how unsafe women and girls feel walking home at night.

The 26-year-old told PA: “The removal of the night Tube has a disproportionate impact on women who are more likely to be sexually assaulted in public and it seems this has been completely overlooked.”

Writing on the page, Ms Watson said: “The decision taken by TfL to keep the night Tube closed over the winter of 2021/2022 will have a disproportionate impact on women and low-income groups, with women forced to take expensive taxis home during the busy festive season as a result of being unsafe in public.”

Andy Lord, managing director of London Underground, said the “feasibility” of reintroducing one or two lines at night more quickly is being “explored”.

He added that ensuring women and girls can travel safely on London public transport is an “absolute priority” for the service.