This evening London’s 150-year-old tube network will make history and join a select number of cities that operates a 24-hour weekend service. This service has long been anticipated but due to conflicts over safety fears, pay and conditions, it has been delayed by nearly a year. Now fully supported by the RMT Union, tonight is the night that the Central and Victoria Lines will run all night!
It is a service that is greatly needed, according to TFL over half a million people use the tube after 10pm on Friday and Saturdays and as London continues to develop this is likely to increase. There are obvious socio-economic advantages for operating 24 hours, it will create a number of permanent jobs, TFL estimates approx. 2000 linked to the night time economy. The Centre for Economic and Business Research suggested unlocking London’s night-time economy will deliver a £3bn boost to the capital, with hospitality, catering and entertainment being the biggest beneficiaries, as the Night Tube unlocks the potential of longer operating hours. Finally it will make London safer to travel around as it negates that need for dubious mini-cabs (although Uber has to a greater extent aided in this regard).
However there are some other issues which must be considered. The greatest users of the night tube, besides the night shift workers, are likely to be revellers coming home from an evening out. By their nature many will be drunk and anyone who has taken the night bus home can testify that it can often feel like a party bus, with drunken singing and other, often comical, antisocial behaviour. There may well be an increase in antisocial behaviour at the stations themselves.
There will be also be a number of residential homes affected by greater noise pollution as the tube lines run under or close to many homes and over the weekend the quiet enjoyment of their home will be lost. Despite advantages in technology, the rumbles and vibrations from the tunnels are very audible in many homes, and when the tube runs for 24 hours there is no respite from this. The knock on effect is the devaluation of your property.
An old country client of ours decided that he didn’t want to use a buying agent in London and bought himself a very charming house in Kensington. He was aware that the tube ran close to the house but couldn’t hear it when he visited so didn’t investigate it further. What no one told him was the district line ran directly under the house, but was closed for renovation works, thus the lack of noise, so he went ahead and bought it, without further due diligence. When the line finally reopened the entire house shook and the noise reverberated straight through the house via the central atrium. With no respite from the noise it was an expensive mistake.
I know that with further lines planning to open for 24 hours and a plan to roll out the 24/7 opening across the network, it will become an even more difficult decision when consider purchasing a house that is directly affected by tube noise.