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'Til the Break of Dawn

London’s Tube joins an elite group of cities to offer all-night subway service

This item has been corrected. 

The London Underground announced today that in 2015  it will begin offering 24-hour subway service on weekends. By doing so, London joins an elite group of cities—including 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.

The expansion will only affect certain central London lines: the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Picadilly, and Victoria lines. Every day 3.5 million trips are taken on the Tube, with the lion’s share—around 73%—along these lines.

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.

Correction: Vienna also offers late night subway service. Our original criteria were that each system be primarily underground and that the late service option offer access to the majority of major subway routes. An expanded definition would include even more systems, like Chicago, Barcelona, and Stockholm.

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