Tube strikes: Night Tube delayed until 'later in autumn'
Two September strikes still planned as London Underground confirms delay to 24-hour service
London Underground has confirmed that it will delay the new Night Tube until later in the autumn to allow time for more talks with unions.
The 24-hour weekend service was due to begin on 12 September on the Jubilee, Victoria and most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines.
However, London Underground workers have been involved in an ongoing dispute about the new service. Unions staged two 24-hour Tube strikes in July and August, causing huge disruption for London commuters and tourists.
Another two Tube strikes, planned to take place across four days this week, were called off on Monday, but are now expected to take place on 8 and 10 September.
A new date for the launch of the Night Tube is yet to be announced, but London Underground expressed hope that it would be "later in the autumn", reports the BBC.
"Further to the progress made in recent days with the trade unions and the suspension of strike action, we believe we are not far from an agreement that protects the work-life balance of our employees and is affordable, sustainable and fair," said Nick Brown, London Underground's managing director.
"As such, we have decided to defer the introduction of Night Tube to allow more time for those talks to conclude. Our objective is to reach an agreement that ends this dispute and delivers the Night Tube for Londoners this autumn."
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, the train drivers' union, welcomed the "common sense" decision, but criticised London Underground for initially trying to introduce the new service "without consultation, and without negotiation".
The proposed strikes in September are likely to cause further headaches for commuters and would clash with an England v Switzerland fixture at Wembley Stadium.
Tube strikes called off - but two more announced
Two 24-hour Tube strikes, which were expected to disrupt services for four consecutive days this week, have been called off by unions "as a gesture of good will".
The decision was taken in order to allow talks at the conciliation service Acas to continue.
However, the threat of further industrial action has not been lifted, and the unions involved in the dispute have proposed two new Tube strikes on 8 and 10 September.
"Leaders from the three unions involved in the proposed strike action, Unite, the RMT, and the TSSA, agreed to suspend the action following last-ditch talks with London Underground bosses at Acas," says the London Evening Standard.
The train drivers' union Aslef had already decided not to participate in this week's Tube strikes, which would have been the third and fourth of the summer.
Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts told the BBC that sufficient progress had been made to justify suspending industrial action, but he also spoke of "remaining sticking points".
No further detail about any progress has been released.
The dispute relates to the introduction of the Night Tube, a 24-hour service on key Underground lines due to begin on 12 September – two days after the second of the newly announced Tube strikes.
However, many commentators expect that the all-night service will now be delayed.
"The key question is: is the Night Tube going to go ahead on 12 September?" says the BBC's London transport correspondent Tom Edwards. "It doesn't look too hopeful at the moment."
What is the row about?
The long-running dispute was triggered by the decision to launch a 24-hour weekend service on several Tube lines beginning in September this year. Job cuts and a lack of proper consultation have also contributed to the row. Unions accuse bosses of drawing up "rosters from hell" to plug the staffing gaps in the Night Tube plans which will affect employees' work-life balance and force the public to pay in terms of safety, reliability and quality. “Running tube services with fatigued and burnt-out staff is a recipe for disaster," says RMT General Secretary Mick Cash.
Bosses contradict these claims, with managing director Nick Brown saying the unions were simply demanding more money. London Underground says it has put forward a "very fair" revised offer to unions which includes a pay rise for all Tube staff and bonuses for those working on the night service as well as a guarantee that employees will not be required to work anymore weekends than they currently do. “You can’t have London being held to ransom forever," Transport for London's interim commissioner Mike Brown told the Evening Standard."We will bring in these changes."
Tube strike: how will your journey be affected?
London Underground managers are meeting union leaders today in a bid to avert Tube strikes due to take place later this week.
Members of three unions – the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association – are threatening to stage two 24-hour walkouts, which will affect services from Tuesday 25 August until Friday 28 August. The drivers' union Aslef has said it will not be taking part.
The unions are in dispute over pay and conditions for the new all-night Tube service, which is scheduled to begin on the Jubilee, Victoria and most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines on 12 September. There were suggestions earlier this month that the launch date might be postponed.
Transport for London (TfL) has said it will run as many services as it can over the next four days, depending on the number of staff who show up. Nevertheless it has advised all customers to allow more time for their journeys.
Here's what to expect if this week's strike goes ahead:
Tuesday 25 August
Tube services are due to stop running from around 6.30pm, with an "exceptionally busy" period between 4.30pm and 6.30pm.
Wednesday 26 August
"Most Tube services are unlikely to run at all and those that do will be less frequent than normal," says TfL. Any services that do operate may only stop at a limited number of stations and/or run for a limited number of hours.
Thursday 27 August
Tube services should be running again in the morning, although travellers have been warned that there may be some "lasting impact" from Wednesday's strike action. The Tube will then stop running at 6.30pm – again with an "exceptionally busy" period expected between 4.30pm and 6.30pm.
Friday 28 August
Friday's strike action is expected to be similar to Wednesday's, with Tube services "unlikely to run at all". Those that do will be less frequent than normal, may only service some stations and may only run for part of the day.
Saturday 29 August
London Underground services will open at the usual time, although scheduled engineering work will go ahead as planned.