Twenty-four hour tube travel starts beneath our streets on Friday 19th August – less than two weeks time. How is it going to affect residents of the West End, Covent Garden and Bloomsbury?
Although local community groups, including the Marchmont Association, have not been against the introduction of the night tube – it’s seen as useful in helping people get home from late night venues, and will improve journeys for night workers and residents alike – there are a number of concerns that many still believe need to be addressed.
Civic groups in the West End – including our neighbours in the Covent Garden Association – are asking for help from the Mayor’s office, following two fruitless years of no community consultation. One of the measures they are pressing for is the closure of Russell Square station at midnight.
Russell Square, as Covent Garden, is predicted to take heavy night-time traffic despite being in a residential area that is currently very quiet at night. Late night visitors to the area tend to walk away from the residential streets around Russell Square tube, and towards the main routes with night buses. But TfL predicts thousands of people using Russell Square station during the night. These journeys could easily be served by stations on major thoroughfares like Holborn, Kings Cross and Tottenham Court Rd. All are stations 5 to 10 minutes’ walk away, in areas already busy with night transport and having high ambient noise in wider streets.
Civic groups have asked TfL to operate midnight closures for both Covent Garden and Russell Square stations. So far TfL has been unwilling to consult or discuss the suggestion, saying that “closing stations confuses customers” – angering local people who say this shows what little weight is attached to the interests of residents.
A second big issue of local concern is the rumble of the trains beneath our beds. Many of us – and not just in basement flats – are used to the sound of trains until 12.30am, followed by the early morning resumption at 5.45am, and fear the night tube will bring this disturbance throughout the night. Residents need reassurance that TfL both has the technology to deal with this disturbance and will be able to deploy it very quickly. If this is not possible, community groups are asking TfL to secure a commitment to suspend services while any necessary works are carried out.