London night tube: what will the environmental impact be?
Article by Katie Anderton – Principal Consultant
With the London night time economy estimated to be worth approximately £66 billion a year to the UK, according to the Night Time Commission, some would say London is already a 24/7 City. Many of us now work into the night on account of having international colleagues, enjoying leisure and tourism, or working in the service industry late into the evening. This is only set to rise in the future.
This month, August 2016, will see the launch of London’s first night tube on both the Central and Victoria lines with six trains an hour. The night tube is expected to be to be launched on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines in autumn 2016. For the first time London will be able to join cities like New York City, Chicago, Berlin and Sydney in offering a night time tube service.
This comes after London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans which could help “cut night-time journeys by an average of 20 minutes” according to Transport for London. This will mean that on a Friday and Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, Londoners and visitors will be able to travel on the tube, making the most of London’s night time economy.
Sadiq Khan announced plans which could help “cut night-time journeys by an average of 20 minutes”
With an ever-increasing night time economy, the night tube is expected to “play a vital role in the capital opening up a host of new opportunities, supporting around 2,000 permanent jobs and boosting London’s night time economy by £360m” according to Transport for London.
Demand for night time travel is on the rise with evening travel often just as busy as the morning and evening peaks. Transport for London suggests “travel on night buses has outstripped all other forms of transport in London and has risen by more than 170% since 2000. Around 560,000 people use the tube after 10pm on Friday and Saturdays”.
However, what are the long-term likely environmental effects associated with London’s night time economy? What are the impacts for local residents from noise and vibration?
With longer operational hours (i.e. working days and nightlife) and weekend night time tube services there is likely to be some sort of impact on local residents, but to what extent?
In terms of the night tube itself, there are likely to be some level of increased noise, especially in the more suburban areas of London where the tube is above ground. The BBC reported last year that local residents were concerned about noise and the impact on their quality of life.
Appropriate mitigation is the key to addressing any environmental impacts associated with London’s night time economy
Appropriate mitigation is the key to addressing any environmental impacts associated with London’s night time economy and more specifically the night tube. Mitigation such as, adequate noise insulation, alternative means of ventilation other than by opening windows; and testing of the effectiveness of the noise insulation measures should be considered.
In response to the night tube, Transport for London state “we are sensitive to the potential of additional noise and disturbance created by the Night Tube. We have carried out a thorough assessment of noise issues alongside local authority Environmental Health Officers and have undertaken an enormous amount of work to the tracks to mitigate any noise issues before the service begins. Once the Night Tube is operational, we will continue to work with residents to investigate any issues regarding noise. We will also ensure that any station announcements do not cause excessive noise levels.”
Overall, it would seem that most Londoners are excited about the impending night tube and the growth in night time activity that it will bring. As for an increase in associated environmental impacts, only time will tell.