London will launch a 24-hour tube service from September next year, a week before the Rugby World Cup kicks off in the British capital.
Trains will run throughout the night on five Underground lines on Fridays and Saturdays to coincide with the tournament, which is being hosted by England next Autumn.
Transport for London has revealed that there will be one train every ten minutes through central London on the Central, Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria lines, and eight trains per hour on the Northern line through the busy West End.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “London is a bustling, 24-hour global city and by this time next year we’ll have a 24-hour Tube service to match.
“Running trains all through the night was once thought impossible, but with the huge investment we’ve put in and upgrades that have been delivered we stand ready to take the Tube to the next level.”
London Underground’s managing director Mike Brown said: “We are now less than a year away from the first ever 24-hour services operating on London Underground.
“Already over half a million Londoners use the Tube after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and the introduction of the Night Tube, which will cut journey times and open up new possibilities across the night time economy, is a historic step in our modernisation of the Underground.”
Transport unions have given a cautious welcome to the news, with Manuel Cortes of the TSSA union saying: “With Boris still wanting to axe 900 jobs and close all ticket offices, we want to ensure that the new service is properly staffed to ensure safe and secure travel for all passengers and that weekend maintenance work is not postponed to disrupt weekday services.”
On Monday, the RMT union announced it would ban overtime from today as part of a row over job cuts. The announcement, which was made just hours before Mick Cash was elected as the union’s new leader, was interpreted as a show of strength.
Transport for London plans to close all manned ticket offices on the London Underground due to a dramatic fall in use. Unions have pledged to fight any job losses that will result, and have already conducted a series of strikes.