The head of the RMT union has reacted angrily to the announcement that London Underground is hoping to extend the tube's running hours.
General Secretary Bob Crow said:
"It would be nice if senior tube officials had the decency to talk to their staff and their unions within existing agreements before they start spinning ideas out about extending hours and changing procedures.
"Major changes to operational hours mean major changes to rosters and would of course require the recruitment of more staff. They would also impact on maintenance, fleet and engineering works. None of that has been discussed with the unions in any forum and RMT does not conduct its negotiations via the media."
London Underground says that up to 5,000 people are at work under London's streets every night to work on maintaining the tube network. These essential works mean that the tube cannot run 24 hours a day.
Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, has ruled out 24-hour services on the tube, but said that he "recognise[d] the importance" of bringing in later running times at the weekend.
“We're currently carrying out a multibillion pound programme to continue to improve the Tube. This will make passenger journeys better and help meet the needs of London's growing population. Much of this complex work needs to be done during the few night time engineering hours available. There is clearly a balance to be struck between extending our hours of operation, which would mean less time to do upgrade work, and the understandable desire for a later running Tube.
"Now that the benefits of some of the modernisation are being realised, later running on Friday and Saturday nights is something that we are looking at again. This is not imminent and we still have much work to do, but I recognise the importance to London. The vital thing is that the Tube continues to receive the same sustained government investment that has enabled us to make the huge improvements that we have seen over the last few years."
– Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground