The launch of the planned Night Tube services has been postponed after a bitter struggle between unions and Transport for London (TfL) bosses.
Following joint strike action from four unions including the train drivers’ union Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) group, TfL said that it would ‘defer’ the launch of 24-hour services despite ‘practical arrangements’ being in place.
Recent talks had seen some progress as unions and bosses try to seek a solution to concerns around work life balance and pay, with strikes planned for this week having been called off.
‘As we continue discussions with our trade unions on rosters this means that it will not now be possible to agree these and communicate them to staff in time for the Night Tube to be launched on 12 September,’ TfL said in a statement, without providing another date for the services to begin.
London Underground managing director, Nick Brown, said: '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.
'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, said: ‘We welcome this decision by London Underground, which gives us all the time and space to negotiate properly on the introduction of the Night Tube in the capital. ‘ASLEF believes that a world-class capital city like London needs a 24-hour Tube service. But not at the expense of the work/life balance of our members. It has to be done in a way that works for London Underground, for passengers, and also for the drivers who deliver this service every day.’
Labour AM Val Shawcross, who is chair of the transport committee at City Hall, told Transport Network TfL’s handling of 24-hour Tube service plans was 'inept' and suggested the body put 'a gun to their [own] head' by setting the launch date as it did.