Night Tube 'not just for revellers', London Underground chief says
The long-delayed Night Tube will be "not just for revellers" when it launches this weekend, the new boss of London Underground (LU) said.
Mark Wild predicted that about 100,000 people will use the service every Friday and Saturday night as "there's clearly a demand for it".
He joined LU as managing director just eight weeks ago after launching night services in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this year.
"What happened there is what I expect will happen here," he said.
"It's not just for revellers. It's for the night-time economy - people working in hospitality, shift workers, nurses.
"We expect a nice mix of people who enjoy the fantastic night life of the city, but it's also a lot about giving people mobility."
The Night Tube was originally due to start last autumn but was held up because of a dispute with trade unions.
Trains will operate through the night on the Victoria line - which usually shuts down from around 12.30am - and parts of the Central line where some passengers have to get their last train before midnight.
Night Tube services on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines will follow in the autumn.
Mr Wild said: "Customers won't spot the difference. It will be seamless to them. The actual operation of it is no more of a challenge than we have during the day."
About half a million people use the Tube after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays combined, and LU hopes this figure will be increased by around 40% once all five Night Tube lines are running.
Gerard McCann, general manager of Mint Leaf restaurant in Haymarket, predicted the service is more likely to be used by his employees - who sometimes do not start their journeys home until 2.30am - rather than customers.
He said: "When we first opened the large majority of our staff lived in zones 1 and 2.
"That was 14 years ago but London has become so tremendously expensive that our staff are now housed in Zones 4, 5 and 6.
"They've got sometimes hellish journeys home on night buses. Having the Tube available is going to be great."
A recent study by business membership organisation London First estimated the Night Tube could be worth £77 million each year to the capital's economy by 2029.
London Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Colin Stanbridge described the service as "vital to underpinning London's 24-hour economy".
He went on: "We need to be offering those enjoying London's night life the most convenient way of travel and, indeed, help businesses operate as effectively as possible by ensuring that staff can commute to and from work as they need."
Alan Miller, chairman of industry group Night Time Industries Association, claimed Tube trains running throughout the weekend will be a "fantastic contribution towards London".
He explained: "Workers and those who have got a lower income who can't afford to even split a taxi will be able to actively enjoy things much more rationally."