NIGHT RIDER

Surreal scenes from the first time the London Tube ran all night

Emptiness fills the night.
Emptiness fills the night.
Image: Quartz/Kata Karáth
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At 3.30am, on the amber-lit stairs of Bethnal Green station, night owl passengers trickled into the East End stop to ride the long-awaited London Night Tube.

On a nearly empty platform three years after the plan to run the city’s iconic underground system all night was revealed, an announcement saying trains would only run every 10 minutes overnight bounced off the curved tunnel walls.

I took a trip to the end of the Central line (one of the two lines running 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays) to see who was riding through the night.

I expected to find nurses, porters, perhaps even people battling insomnia. But the underground reality was more fitting to a city whose vibrant night life has until now depended upon taxis and night buses: Endless lines of empty tube cars sporadically filled up with groups of drunk people dozing off or staring blankly at each other.

Most of the passengers I encountered were people heading home from a night out with friends, but some were the people who help London start its day.

Below, some of the sights and voices from an inaugural voyage on the London Night Tube:

A walk down the center of the line.
Image: Quartz/Kata Karáth
Humans-of-the-London-Night-Tube
Oli, 25, an office worker, was heading home: “We went to watch the Olympics after work… I think the Night Tube is dangerous for women.”
Image: Quartz/Kata Karáth
Humans-of-the-London-Night-Tube
Nadia, 43 and Roland, 49, are Eurostar railway service staff: “We feel like as if we are coming back from clubbing. We’re going to work. It helps with our shifts, but I’m not sure if it’s faster.”
Image: Quartz/Kata Karáth
Humans-of-the-London-Night-Tube
Antonio, 24, is a hotel worker: “It’s good. It’s faster, and the station is closer to my home”
Image: Quartz/Kata Karáth
Amber-lit-stairs-of-Bethnal-Green-London-Tube-Station
Amber-lit stairs.
Image: Quartz/Kata Karáth
Nearly-empty-Bethnal-Green-London-Tube-station
Ten minutes of silence between trains.
Image: Quartz/Kata Karáth
London-Night-Tube
An early bird or a night owl?
Image: Quartz/Kata Karáth