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London’s Tube Joins Elite Group of Cities Offering All-Night Subway Service

People in a Central Line underground train wait for the departure at Liverpool Street underground station in London.

People in a Central Line underground train wait for the departure at Liverpool Street underground station in London. // Sang Tan/AP

The London Underground has announced that in 2015  it will begin offering 24-hour subway service on weekends. By doing so, London joins an elite group of cities—Copenhagen, Berlin and New York—that offer all-night service options.

As part of his larger city transit plan, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson hopes the change will boost the economy and prepare the city of 8.3 million for the 500,000 new residents expected by 2031.

All night service of any type is a rarity on the metropolitan subway systems of the world. New York City’s MTA is joined by Copenhagen’s driverless all-night Metro in offering true all-night, underground train service, while Berlin’s U-bahn (Underground train) replaces its trains with buses for overnight service. Most major metropolitan transit systems, including those in Singapore, Boston, Tapei, Tokyo, Seoul, and Washington, D.C. shut down from 11:30pm-12am until 5am-6am.

These announcements were marred by the news that the Underground will lay off 750 station agents and ticket sellers, closing most of the ticket offices. Some workers will be transferred from ticket offices to train platforms. The changes are expected to save £270 million  ($437 million) over the next five years.

Update: Readers have pointed out that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) offers limited late night service on select routes of the “L” (“elevated“) train system.

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