24hr Tube Nightmares

If there is one thing that we Londoners love it’s a good old-fashioned whinge. From the prices of oddly named craft beers to never being fully #beachbodyready we simply must have something to complain about or we’ll die. It is the fuel of London life. But if there has been one bellyache that has been grumbled from one Londoner to another since its inception, it has to be our much loved-and-loathed Underground.

As daily commuters, we have simply come to accept the city’s transport systems as a part of our lives. The ever-rolling escalators, dirty tunnels with scrabbling mice and the 27,000 step staircase at Covent Garden that only tourists and Olympic athletes are dumb enough to climb… these are all things we’ve become accustomed to. We’ve spend so much time and money using it that we could have done something worthwhile like volunteer work, shopping for a Celine handbag, having delicious extra hours in bed… and other such commendable activities.

Now, as you will undoubtedly already know, they are attempting to make us waste more of our time travelling by giving us the option to travel at any time of the day or night with a 24-hour tube services (supposedly starting this autumn, but we’ll see about that). And if the numerous strikes weren’t a telltale sign, there are some people who are none too pleased with these plans, with the tube unions and the TFL still hashing it out in these supposed ‘talks’ that are getting no one anywhere fast. Come on guys, I need to be in South Ken by five!

If you have ever been on the last train home at night then you will be well acquainted with the regular sights. The group of rowdy friends just heading out. The group of rowdy friends heading home and quite obviously trying to hold down the contents of their cocktails. And the guy over there who you really hope gets off at the next stop… Then there’s you, who I hope is none of the above. So let’s just leave the occasionally functioning Underground just the way it is, with plenty of drunks and shifty-looking folk.

Now contrary to popular belief the Tube strikes are not about the pay for drivers (or at least not just about that) but also work-life balance of all the London Underground employees including those who work in ticket halls and are on far lower salaries, and would be working unsocial hours with the new service. Not to mention having to deal with the increased number of drunkards falling onto the tracks. I mean sure, it’d be great to know you can always get home without racking up too many debts with cab companies and going into your overdraft because of Uber… but it’s worrying that so much staff will have to work so much more. Wouldn’t it be great if it would result in a whole load of brand new jobs to lower unemployment in the city? But in typically sinister government-garble, the ‘Executive Summary’ TFL put out simply skims the issue by saying it “will lead to a gross impact” of roughly 2000 “permanent” jobs. Define “permanent”, people. Are these just the previous Underground employees in over-hours contracts? They are much more vocal about how much money this will make for TFL itself. In fact a third of the ‘Executive Summary’ is dedicated to outlining how they’ll be lining their pockets… and if you listen closely; you might hear the pitter-patter of your pennies as you’re robbed of them. Never mind though! We can all be assured that “It will support and help maintain London’s status as a vibrant and exciting place to live, work and visit.” Goodie!

This mastermind plan could only have come from one source. It’s all thanks to everyone’s favourite blonde bobble-head comedian, I mean politician, the usual suspect Boris Johnson, who was just itching to get things going. “As I’ve previously made clear, I’m not interested in a staring match over September 12 and I want to see the Night Tube introduced this autumn.”

Stern words straight from the horse’s mouth, but also his first mistake. Setting a date before all the issues had been sorted just gave the unions more leverage in their strike actions. It’s like being rude to a waiter in a restaurant then being surprised to find something, erm… extra, in your food. Don’t piss them off; they hold all the power here. Dear Boris went on to say that “Agreement on this is in everyone’s best interests – Londoner’s, businesses, visitors to our city and the hard working London Underground staff who are central to making this happen.” Again only adding to the bargaining power of those who strike. So really it is all Boris’ fault, let’s just blame him shall we? Sorry Boris, but everyone loves a scapegoat.


  • Jess Hollingworth

    Steven, I’m not sure your points entirely ring true with your bio.

    A love for the “fast pace of city life” would actually mean that you’d be in support of a 24/7 tube, for how else can we keep up the pace? There is definite demand for this service, in this “ever-evolving city”.

    I’m particularly concerned over this comment: “Then there’s you, who I hope is none of the above”. Really? A group of friends heading out, and a group of friends heading home? Does this mean, despite the bio, you do not go on a night out in London, or return? Even if this is true, I’m shocked at your dismissal of others.

    “Shifty looking folk”? Can you please define this more clearly? Perhaps these people are returning from a nights shift at work, or visiting a friend who called for help. From a “Londoner”, your prejudice and oversight is incredible!

    Be good to hear your thoughts on the above.


    • Steven Westgate

      Dear Jess,

      I do indeed have a love for the fast pace of city life here in London, but that does not mean that I have to be fully in support of every new service that allows it to increase its velocity. My bio is written as an opinion on the current state of my life in the city and does not mean that I should be in alliance with all innovations to come, which is where you mistake my words of “ever-evolving city” to mean that I should accept all evolutions as being good. I am, like you, entitled to my opinion on what I think is good for the city, and I am sorry that you think what I have said is in conflict with my bio, but I do not believe that it is.

      Where you mention my words on the groups of people on the trains late at night, what I meant by this is that as someone who may be travelling alone and not always comfortable by large groups of people making lots of noise, this may be upsetting to some and feel that it causes disruption to others on the train. It is more about having the respect for other passengers than it is my own “dismissal” for people going out or coming home and having a good time.

      You seem very upset when I use the words “shifty looking folk” and are very quick to call me prejudice for saying this. Your comment that these people may just be returning from a night shift is fair, but let me ask you, how often have you seen such a person and sat next to them to ask how their day has been? How often to do speak to any stranger when you are alone at night? It is not about judging someones but about the way that people perceive each other in certain situations. I would never dare to make any solid judgements on who a person is, but based on what we see around us we know that it is just safer for us to distance ourselves from someone who may pose a possible danger to us. It is not good to assume that of people but as we do not know them from the next person it is just about looking out for number one.

      I am sorry that you have taken conflict with my piece on this Jess, and I do think you may have been quick to judge me as a hypocrite but I do hope that this response has cleared up some of your concerns and that we can move forward.

      All the best,

      Steven Francis Westgate

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