An announcement on the reopening of London's Night Tube transport service is expected 'in the next few weeks', according to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Weekend underground trains running on limited lines through the night were cancelled in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the step has been widely criticised due to safety concerns now the UK has been out of lockdown for almost three months.
At the time of writing, 85,540 people had signed a Change.org petition demanding a return of the Night Tube in order to make the city safer for women travelling home after visiting restaurants, bars and nightclubs, with standard services finishing at 1AM and not resuming until 5.30AM. UK law states that any petition which receives 100,000 signatures must be debated in Parliament.
The initiative was launched by Ella Watson, who believes the decision to pause Night Tube services has left women reliant on taxis to get home once standard public transport options close. "I understand what it’s like to be a woman and feel unsafe traveling home in London, especially at night," she said.
“The removal of the Night Tube has a disproportionate impact on women who are more likely to be sexually assaulted in public and it seems this has been completely overlooked," Watson continued.
Referring to the murders of Sabina Ness and Sarah Everard, both of who were walking home alone at night, the campaign page reads:
"In the UK and London women and girls are unsafe on the streets, especially at night... The decision taken by TfL to keep the Night Tube closed over the winter of 2021/2022 will have a disproportionate impact on women and low-income groups, with women forced to take expensive taxis home during the busy festive season as a result of being unsafe in public.”
A proposal by Andy Lord, managing director of London Underground, to potentially open a small number of lines for Night Tube services has been met with anger by Watson. "How can they justify selecting certain lines when this is an issue that affects women across the whole of London?," she told PA.
"They will still be jeopardising the safety of women who live in the areas where the lines remain closed. I would also like to see some solid commitments rather than vague promises in terms of the lines in question," she continued.
The Night Tube was originally introduced in August 2016, after being delayed by almost one year due to disputes between the operator and unions. At the time it was a key part of Khan's push to support what he described as the city's "iconic club scene".