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24-hour Tube may not be realistic

No decisions have yet been taken, but the possibility of all night running has been raised before – in 2003 it was mentioned in London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

However, late night running would present a maintenance challenge as this work is undertaken every night.

London Underground asset performance director Phil Hufton says that, in the past, when there has been industrial action, it has been able to prepare trains to run without maintenance. Whether this can be done for whole weeks at a time is debatable.

Extended night time running is possible on some nights, though, as the experience of late running for New Years Eve shows.

But in 2005, TfL asked passengers if they wanted the Tube to run later at weekends. The results showed an estimated 140,000 passengers would benefit if the Tube ran for an hour extra on Friday and Saturday nights – less than 5% of the 2.93M people who use it every day.

Running the Tube later at weekends would have also meant starting the Sunday service later to allow for maintenance. This was estimated to affect 55,000 people who use the Tube during the first hour at weekends.

The Olympics will doubtless see an increase in the number of people using the Tube as some 500,000 spectators make their way to and from Olympic events each day, so late running could help ease congestion.

London mayor Boris Johnson is in favour of a 24 hour Tube but he admitted last year that this would have to wait almost a decade until the Tube upgrades are complete.

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